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DEMCO 38-297 


3 1924 100 532 054 

Cornell University 

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BOSTON: ,\V..-^" 





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A.?o8Ti r^ 

Entered, ace<$rdiiig to Act of CongresB, in the yeflr 1871b 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

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. 19 Spring Idne. f ^ 




NecesBitT of studying the oldest Beliefs of the Ancients in 

order to understand their Institutions. .•..••• 9 




I. Notions about the Soul and Death 15 

II. The Worship of the Dead 23 '^ 

III. The Sacred Fire 29 ?«■ 

IV. The Domestic Beligion H i~ 




K I. Beligion was the constituent Fifinciple of the an- 
cient Family 49 '~ 

II. Marriage auoog the Greeks and Bomans 63 

III. The Continuity of the Family. Celibacy forbidden. 

Divorce in Case of Sterility. Inequality be- 
tween the Son and the Daughter 61 




IV. Adoption and Emancipation C8 

v. Kinship. What the Romans called Agnation. . . 71 

VI. The Right of Property 76 X 

VII. The Right of Succession 93 

1. Nature and Principle of the Right of Succes- 

sion among the Ancients 93 

2. The Son, not the Daughter, inherits 95 

3. Collateral Succession 100 

4. Effects of Adoption and Emancipation. . . . 103 

6. Wills were not known originally 101 

6. The Right of Primogeniture 107 

VIII. Authority in the Family lllj( 

1. Principle and Nature of Paternal Power 

among the Ancients Ill 

2. Enumeration of the Rights composing tho Pa- 

ternal Power 117 

%X. Morals of the Ancient Family 123 

X. The Gens at Rome and in Greece 131 

1. What we learn of the Gens from Ancient Doc- 

uments 134 

2. An Examination of the Opinions that have 

been offered to explain the Roman Gens. . 138 
8. The Gens was nothing but the Family still 
holding to its primitive Organization and 

its Unity 141 

\ 4. The Family (Gens) was at first the only Form 

of Society 14 j 





I. The Phratry and the Cury. The Tribe 154 '^ 

II. I'Ne'w Religious Beliefs. 159 

1. The Gods of Physical Nature 159 

2. Relation of this Religion to the Development 

of Human Society 161 

III. The City is formed 167 

rv. The City. Urbs. 177 

I'V. Woraliip of the Founder. Legend of ^neas. . . 188^ 

vYl. The Gods of the City 193 

k-VII. The Religion of the City. . . '. 205 

1. The Public Meals 205 

2. The Pestirals and the Calendar 210 

8. The Census 213 

4. Religion in the Assembly, in the Senate, in the 

Tribunal, in the Army. The Triumph. . . 216 

VIII. The Rituals and the Annals 222 

IX. Government of the City. The King 231 

'''l. Religious Authority «f the King 231 f^*^ 

2. Political Authority ofTke King.'' 236 J 

X. The Magistracy 239 J 

XI. The Law 248 

XII. The Citizen and the Stranger 258 

XIII. Patriotism. Exile 264 

XTV. TheJJunieipal Spirit 268 

XV. Relations between the Cities. War. Peace. The 

Alliance of the Gods 273 

XVI. The Roman. The Athenian 280 

XVII. Omnipotence of the State. The Ancients knev 

nothing of Individual Liberty 293 




I. Patricians and Clients 299 

II. The Plebeians ^^^ 

III. First Revolution ^1* 

^ 1. The Political Power is taken from the Kings, y 

who still retain their Religious Authority. . 314 

2. History of this Revolution at Sparta 316 

3. History of this Revolution at Athens 319 

4. History of this Revolution at Rome 324 

IV. The Aristocracy govern the Cities 330 

V. Second Revolution. Changes in the Constitution 

of the Family. The Right of Primogeniture 

disappears. The Gens is dismembered 336 

f- VI. The CUents are Freed 341 

1. What Clientship was at first, and how it was 

transformed 341 

2. Clientship disappears at Athens. The Work 

of Solon 349 

3. Transformation of Clientship at Rome. . . . 354 
VII. Third Revolution. Plebs enter the City. .... 360 

1. General History of this Revolution 360 

2. History of this Revolution at Athens 372 

3. History of this Revolution at Rome 379 

VIII. Changes in Private Law. Code of the Twelve 

Tables. Code of Solon 410 

IX. The New Principle of Government. The Public 

Interest and the Suffrage 423 

X. An Aristocracy of Wealth attempts to establish it- 
self. Establishment of the Democracy. Fourth 

Revolution. . . , . . 430 


XI. Bules of the Democratic GoTernment. Examples 

of Athenian Democracy 439 

XII. Bich and Poor. The Democracy falls. Popular 

Tyrants 419 

XIII. BeTolutions of Sparta 453 


'I. New Beliefs. Philosophy changes the Principles 

and Bules of Politics 470 

II. The Boman Conquest 481 / 

1. A few Words on the Origin and Population 

of Bome 482 

2. FirstAggrandizementofBome(753-350B. C.) 486 

3. How Borne acquired Empire (360-140 B. C). 490 

4. Bome eyeryvrhere destroys the Municipal 

System 600 

6. The Conquered Nations successiyely enter the 

Boman City 508 

i^lIL Christianity changes the Conditions of Govern- 
ment 619 



The Necessity of stndying the earliest Beliefs of the An« 
cients in order to understand their Institutions. 

It is proposed here to show upon what principles 
and by what rules Greek and Roman society was gov- 
erned. We unite in the same study both the Greeks 
and the Romans, because these two peoples, who were 
two branches of a single race, and who spoke two 
idioms of a single language, also had the same insti- 
tutions and the same principles of government, and 
passed through a series of similar revolutions. 

We shall attempt to set in a clear light the radi- 
cal and essential differences which at all times distin- 
guished these ancient peoples from modern societies. 
In our system of education, we live from infancy in 
the midst of the Greeks and Romans, and become ac- 
customed continually to compare them with ourselves, 
to judge of their history by our own, and to explain 
our revolutions by theirs. What we have received 
fi'om them leads us to believe that we resemble them. 
We have some difficulty in considering them as for- 



eign nations; it is almost always ourselves that we 
see in them. Hence spring many errors. We rarely 
fail to deceive ourselves regarding these iancient na- 
tions when we see them through the opinions and facts 
of our own time. 

Now, errors of this kind are not without danger. 
The ideas which the moderns have had of Greece and 
Rome have often been in their way. Having imper- 
fectly observed the institutions of the ancient city, 
men have dreamed of reviving them among us. They 
have deceived themselves about the liberty of the an- 
cients, and on this very account liberty among the 
modems has been put in peril. The last eighty years 
have clearly shown that one of the great diflSculties 
•which impede the march of modem society, is the 
habit which it has of always keeping Greek and Ro- 
man antiquity before its eyes. 

To understand the truth about the Greeks and Ro- 
mans, it is wise to study them without thinking of 
ourselves, as if they were entirely foreign to us ; with 
the same disinterestedness, and with the mind as free, 
as if we were studying ancient India or Arabia. 

Thus obsei-ved, Gi-eece and Rome appear to us in a 
character absolutely inimitable; nothing in modem 
times resembles them ; nothing in the future can rer 
semble them. We shall attempt to show by what 
rules these societies were regulated, and it will be 
freely admitted that the same rules can never govern 
humanity again. 

Whence comes this ? Why are the conditions of 
human government no longer the same as in earlier 
times ? The great changes which appear from time to 
time in the constitution of society can be the effect 
neither of chance nor of force alone. 


The cause which produces them must be powerful, 
and must be found in man himself. If the la-ws of 
human association are no longer the same as in an- 
tiquity, it is because there has been a change in man. 
There is, in fact, a part of our being which is modified 
from age to age ; this is our intelligence. It is always 
in movement ; almost always progressing ; and on this 
account, our institutions and our laws are subject to 
change. Man has jiot, in our day, the way of thinking 
that he had twenty-five centuries ago; and this is why 
he is no longer governed as he was governed then. 

The history of Greece and Rome is a witness and 
an example of the intimate relation which always exists 
between men's ideas and their social state. Examine 
the institutions of the ancients without thinking of 
their religious notions, and you find them obscure, 
whimsical, and inexplicable. Why were there patri- 
cians and plebeians, patrons and clients, eupatrids and 
thetes; and whence came the native and ineffaceable 
differences which we find between these classes ? What 
was the meaning of those LaeedsBntonian institutions 
which appear to us so contrary to nature ? How are 
we to explain those unjust caprices of ancient private 
law; at Corinth and at Thebes, the sale of land pro- 
hibited ; at Athens and at Rome, an inequality in the 
succession between brother and sister ? What did the 
jurists understand by agnation, and by gens f Why 
those revolutions in the laws, those political revolu- 
tions ? What was that singular patriotism which some- 
times effaced every natural sentiment? What did 
they understand by that liberty of which they were 
always talking ? How did it happen that institutions 
so very different from anything of which we have an 
idea to-day, could become established and reign for so 


long a time? What is the superior principle which 
gave them authority over the minds of men ? 

But by the side of these institutions and laws place 
the religious ideas of those times, and the facts at once 
become clear, and their explanation is no longer doubt- 
ful. If, on going back to the first ages of this race, — 
that is to say, to the time when its institutions were 
founded, — we observe the idea which it had of human 
existence, of life, of death, of a second life, of the divine 
principle, we perceive a close relation between these 
opinions and the ancient rules of private Jaw; between 
the rites which spring from these opinions and their 
political institutions. 

A comparison of beliefs and laAvs shows that a primi- 
tive religion constituted the Greek and Roman family, 
established mairiageand paternal authority, fixed the 
order of relationship, and consecrated the right of 
property, and the right of inheritance. This same re- 
ligion, after having enlarged and extended the family, 
formed a still larger association, the city, and reigned 
in that as it had reigned in the family. From it came 
all the institutions, as well as all the private law, of the 
ancients. It was fi-om this that the city received all 
its principles, its rules, its usages, and its magistracies. 
But, in the course of time, this ancient religion became 
modified or effaced, and private law and political in- 
stitutions were modified with it. Then came a series 
of revolutions, and social changes regularly followed 
the development of knowledge. 

It is of the first importance, therefore, to study the 
religious ideas of these peoples, and the oldest are the 
most important for us to know. For the institutions 
and beliefs which we find at the flourishing periods of 
Greece and Rome are only the development of those 


of an earlier age ; we must seek the roots of them in 
the veiy distant past. The Greek and Italian popula- 
tions are many centuries older than Komulus and 
Homer. It was at an epoch more ancient, in an an- 
tiquity without date, that their beliefs were formed, 
and that their institutions were either established or 

But what hope is there of arriving at a knowledge 
of this distant past? Who can tell us what men 
thought ten or fifteen centuries before our era ? Can 
we recover what is so intangible and fugitive — beliefs 
and opinions? We know what the Aryas of the East 
thought thirty-five centuries ago: we learn this from 
the hymns of the Vedas, which are certainly very 
ancient, and from the laws of Manu, in which we can 
distinguish passages that are of an extremely early date. 
But where are the hymns of the ancient Hellenes? 
They, as well as the Italians, had ancient hymns, and 
old sacred books; but nothing of these has come down 
to us. What tradition can remain to us of those gen- 
erations that have not left us a single written line ? 

Fortunately, the past never completely dies for man. 
Man may forget it, but he always preserves it withini 
him. For, take him at any epoch, and he is the product, 
the epitome, of all the earlier epochs. Let him look 
into his own soul, and he can find and distinguish 
these difierent epochs by what each of them has left 
within him. 

Let us observe the Greeks of the age, of Pericles, and 
the Romans of Cicero's time ; they carry within them 
the authentic marks and the unmistakable vestiges of 
the most remote ages. The contempornry of Cicero (I 
speak especially of the man of the people) has an im- 
agination full of legends ; these legends come to him 



from a very early time, and they bear witness to tlie 
manner of thinking of that time. The contemporary of 
Cicero speaks a language whose roots are very ancient ; 
this langaage, in expressing the thoughts of ancient 
ages, has been modelled upon them, and it has kept the 
impression, and transmits it from centuiy to century. 
The primary sense of a root will sometimes reveal an 
ancient ojDinion or an ancient usage ; ideas have been 
transformed, and the recollections of them have van- 
ished; but the words have remained, immutable wit- 
nesses of beliefs that have disappeared. 

The contemporary of Cicero practised rites in the 
sacrifices, at funerals, and in the ceremony of marriage; 
these rites were older than his time, and what proves it 
is, that they did not correspond to his religious belief 
But if we examine the rites which he observed, or the 
formulas which he recited, we find the marks of what 
men believed fifteen or twenty centuries earlier. 



Notions about the Soul and Death. 

Down to the latest times in the history of Greece 
and Rome we find the common people clin^ng to 
thoughts and usages which certainly dated from a very 
distant past, and which enable us to discover what 
notions man entertained at first regarding his own 
nature, his soul, and the mystery of death. 

Go back far as we may in the history of the Indo- 
European race, of which the Greeks and Italians are 
branches, and we do not find that this race has ever 
thought that after this short life all was finished for 
man. The most ancient generations, long before there 
were philosophers, believed in a second existence after 
the present. They looked upon death not as a disso- 
lution of bur being, but simply as a change of life. 

But in what place, and in what manner, was this 
second existence passed ? Did they believe that the 
immortal spirit, once escaped from a body, went to ani- 
mate another? No; the doctrine of metempsychosis 
was never able to take root in the minds of the Greco- 
Italians; nor was it the most ancient belief of the 



Aryas of the East ; since the hymns of the Vedas teach 
another doctrine. Did they believe that the spirit 
ascended towards the sky, towards the region of light ? 
Not at all ; the thought that departed souls entered a 
celestial home is relatively recent in the "West; we 
find it expressed for the first time by the poet Pho- 
cylides. The celestial abode was never regarded as 
anything more than the recompense of a few great 
men, and of the benefactors of mankind. According 
to the oldest belief of the Italians and Greeks, the soul 
did not go into a foreign world to pass its second ex- 
istence; it remained near men, and continued to live 
under ground.' 

They even believed for a very long time that, in this 
second existence, the soul remained associated with 
the body ; born together, they were not separated by 
death, and were buried together in the grave. 

■ Old as this belief is, authentic evidences of it still 
remain to us. These evidence^ are the rites of sepul- 
ture, which have long survived this primitive belief, 
but which certainly began with it, and which enable us 
to understand it. 

The rites of sepulture show clearly that when a 
body was buried, those ancient peoples believed that 
they buried something that was living. Virgil, who 
always describes religious ceremonies with so much 
care and precision, concludes the account of the funeral 
of Polydorus in these words : " We enclose the soul iu 
the gi-ave." The same expression is found in Ovid, 
and in Pliny the Younger; this did not correspond 
to the ideas which these writers had of the soul, 

' S-ub terra censehant reliqrtam viiam agi morttiorum. Cicero 
Tusc, I. 16. Euripides, Ale, 163 ; ffec, passim. 


but from time immemorial it had been perpetuated in 
the language, attesting an ancient and common belief.' 
It was a custom, at the close of a funeral ceremonj', 
to call the soul of the deceased three times by the 
name he had borne. They wished that he might live 
happy under ground. Three times they said to him 
Pare thee well. They added, May the earth rest lightly 
upon thee.' Thus firmly did they believe that the per- 
son would continae to live under ground, and that he 
would still preserve a sense of enjoyment and suffering. 
They wrote upon the tomb that the man rested there — 
an expression which survived this belief, and which has 
come down through so many centuries to our time. We 
still employ it, though surely no one to-day thinki 
an immortal being rests in a tomb. But in 
ancient days they believed so firmly that a man 
there that they never failed to bury with him the ob- 
jects of which they supposed he had need — clothing, 
utensils, and arms. They poured wine npon his tomb 
to quench his thirst, and placed rood there to satisfy 
his hunger. They slaughtered horses and slaves wit 
the idea that these beings, buried with the dead, woo, 

' Ovid, Fa^., V. 451. Pliny, ie«er«,lvil. 27. \irg. JiEn., 
III. 67. Virgil's description relates ta the employment of 
cenotaphs ; it was admitted that when tie body ofl^relative 
could not .>e found, they might performV a cereraotiy which 
exactly reproduced all the rites of sepulture ^nd it nras believed 
that in this way, in the absence of the body,'riiewenclos&d the 
soul in the tomb. Eurip., Helen., lOGl, 1240l/Scholiast, ad 
Find. Fyth., IV. 284. Virg., VI..603; XII. 2^ 

" Iliad, XXIir. 221. Pausanias, II. 7, 2. Eurip., AIL, 
463. Virg., JEn., III. 68. Catul., 98, 10. Ovid, Trist., III. 
3," 43; Fast., IV. 852; Metam., X. 62. Juvenal, VII. 207. 
Martial, I. 89; V. 35; IV. 30. Servius, ad ^n., II. 644; 
III. G8 ; XI. 97. Tacit., Agric., 46. 


serve him in the tomb, as they had done during his 
life. After the taking of Troy, the Greeks are about to 
return to their country ; each takes with him his beauti- 
ful captive ; but Achilles, who is under the earth, 
claims his captive also, and they give him Polyxena.' 

A verse of Pindar has preserved to us a curious 
vestige of the thoughts of those ancient generations. 
Phrixus had been compelled to quit Greece, and had 
fled as far as Colchis. He had died in that country; 
but, dead though he was, he wished to return to Greece. 
He appeared, therefore, to Pelias, and directed him to 
go to Colchis and bring away his fioul. Doubtless this 
soul regretted the soil of its native country, and the 
tomb of its family ; but being attached to its corporeal 
remains, it could not quit Colchis without them.* 

From this primitive belief came the necessity of 
burial. In order that the soul might be confined to 
this subterranean abode, which was suited to its second 
life, it was necessary that the body to which it remained 
attached should be covered with earth. The soul that 
had no tomb had no dwelling-place. It was a wander- 
ing spirit. In vain it sought the repose which it would 
naturally desire after the agitations and labor of this 
life ; it must wander forever under the. form of a larva, 
or phantom, without ever stopping, without ever receiv- 
ing the ofierings and the food which it had need of. 
Unfortunately, it soon became a malevolent spirit ; it 
tormented the living ; it brought diseases upon them, 
i-avaged their harvests, and frightened them by gloomy 
apparitions, to warn them to give sepulture to its body 

' Eurip., me., passim; Ale, Iphig., 162. Iliad, XXIII. 166. 
Virg., JSn., V. 77; VI. 221; XI. 81. Pliny, N. H., VIII. 40. 
Suet., Ceesar, 84. Lucian, De Luctu, 14. 

* Pind., Pyihic, IV. 284, ed. Heyne; see the Scholiast. 


and to itself. From this came the belief in ghosts. AH 
antiquity was persuaded that without burial the soul 
was miserable, and that by burial it became forever 
happy. It was not to display their grief that they 
performed the funeral ceremony, it was for the rest and 
happiness of the dead.' 

We must remark, however, that to place the body 
in the ground was not enough. Certain traditional 
rites had also to be observed, and certain established 
formulas to be pronounced. We find in Plautus an 
account of a ghost ; * it was a soul that was compelled 
to wander because its body had been placed in the 
ground without due attention to the rites. Suetonius 
relates that when the body of Caligula was placed in 
the earth without a due observation of the funeral 
ceremonies, his soul was not at rest, and continued to 
appear to the living until it was determined to disinter 
the body and give it a burial according to the rules. 
These two examples show clearly what efiects.were 
attributed to the rites and formulas of the funeral cere- 
mony. Since without them souls continued to wan- 
der and appear to the living, it must have been by them 
that souls became fixed and enclosed in their tombs ; 
and just as there were formulas which had this virtue, 
there were others which had a contrary virtue — that 
of evoking souls, and making them come out for a time 
from the sepulchre. 

We can see in ancient writers how man was toi"- 
mented by the fear that after his death the rites would | 

• Odyssey, XI. 72. Eurip., Troad., 1085. Hdts., V. 92. 
Virg., VI. 371, 379. Horace, Odes, I. 23. Ovid, Fast., V. 483. 
Pliny, Epist., VII. 27. Suetonius, GaVig., 59. Servius, ad 
^n., III. 68. 

' Plautus, MosieUaria. 



not be observed for him. It was a source of constant 
inquietude. Men feargd-dfiath less th an the privation 
of burial ; for rest and eternal happiness were at stake. 
We ought not to be too much surprised at seeing the 
Athenians put generals to death, who, after a naval 
victory, had neglected to bury the dead. These gen- 
erals, disciples of philosophers, distinguished clearly 
between the soul and the body, and as they did not 
believe that the fate of the one was connected with the 
fate of the other, it appeared to them of very little con- 
sequence whether a body was decomposed in the earth 
or in the water. Therefore they did not brave the 
tempest for the vain foiinality of collecting and burying 
their dead. But the multitude, who, even at Athens, 
still clung to the ancient doctrines, accused- these gen- 
erals of impiety, and had them put to death. By their 
victory they had saved Athens ; but by their impiety 
they had lost thousands of souls. The relatives of the 
dead, thinking of the long-suffering which these souls 
must bear, came to the tribunal clothed in mourning, 
and asked for vengeance. In the ancient cities the law 
condemned those guilty of great crimes to a terrible 
punishment — the privation of burial. In this manner 
they punished the soul itself, and inflicted upon it a 
punishment almost eternal. 

We must observe that there was among the ancients 
another opinion concerning the abode of the dead. 
They pictured to themselves a region, also subterranean, 
but infinitely more vast than the tomb, where all souls, 
far from their bodies, lived together, and where re- 
wards and punishments were distributed according to 
the lives men had led in this world. But the rites of 
burial, such as we have described them, manifestly dis- 
agree with this belief— a certain proof that, at the epoch 


when these rites were established, men did not yet be- 
lieve in Tartarus and the Elysian Fields. The earliest 
opinion of these ancient generations was, that man lived 
in the tomb, that the soul did not leave the body, and 
that it remained fixed to that portion of ground where 
tlie bones lay buried. Besides, man had no account to 
I'ender of his past life. Once placed- in the tomb, he 
had neither rewards nor punishments to expect. This 
is a very crude opinion surely, but it is the beginnihg 
of the notion of a future life. 

The being who lived under ground was not suf- 
ficiently free from human frailties to have no need of 
food ; and, therefore, on certain days of the year, a 
meal was carried to eveiy tomb. Ovid and Vii'gil 
have given us a description of this ceremony. The 
observance continued unchanged even to their time^ 
although religious beliefs had already undergone great 
changes. According to these writers, the tomb was 
surrounded with large wreaths of grasses and flowers, 
and cakes, fruits, and flowers were placed upon it ; 
milk, wine, and sometimes even the blood of a victim 
were added.' 

We should greatly deceive ourselves if we thought 
that these funeral repasts were nothing more than a sort 
of commemoration. The food that the family brought 
was really for the dead — exclusively for hira. What 
proves this is, that the milk and wine were poured out 
upon the earth of the tomb ; that the earth was hollowed 
out so that the solid food might reach the dead ; that 
if they sacrificed a victim, all its flesh was burnt, so 
that none of the living could have any part of it ; that 

' Virgil, ^n., III. 300 et seq. j V. 77. Ovid, Fast, II. 


they pronounced certain consecrated formulas to in- 
vite the dead to eat and drink; that if the entire familj 
were present at the meal, no one touched the food ; 
that, in fine, when they went away, they took great 
care to leave a little milk and a few cakes in vases ; and 
that it was considered gross impiety for any living 
person to touch this scant provision destined for the 
needs of the dead.' 

•These usages are attested in the most formal manner. 
" I pour upon the earth of the tomb," says Iphigenia 
in Euripides, "milk, honey, and wine; for it is with 
these that we rejoice the dead."' Among the Greeks 
there was in front of every tomb a place destined for 
the immolation of the victim and the cooking of its 
flesh.^ The Roman tomb also had its cvMna, a species 
of kitchen, of a particular kind, and entirely for the use 
of the dead.* Plutarch relates that after the battle of 
Platsea, the slain having been buried upon the field of 
battle, the Platseans engaged to offer them the funeral 
repast every year. Consequently, on each anniversary, 
they went in grand procession, conducted by their first 
magisti-ates to the mound under which the dead lay. 
They offered the departed milk, wine, oil, and perfumes, 
and sacrificed a victim. When the provisions had been 
placed upon the tomb, the Platseans pronounced a 
formula by which they called the dead to come and 
partake of this repast. This ceremony was still per- 
formed in the time of Plutarch, who was enabled to 
witness the six hundredth anniversary of it.* A little 

> Hdts.,II. 40. Eurip., /Tec, 636. Pausanias, II. 10. "Virgil, 
V. 98. Ovid, Fast., II. 566. Lucian, Charon. 
" .ffisch., Choeph., 476. Eurip., Iph., 162. 
' Euripides, Electra, 613. 
* Festus, V. Culina. 
' Plutarch, Aristides, 21. 


later, Lucian, ridiculing these opinions and usages, 
filiows how deeply rooted they were in the common 
mind. "The dead," says he, "are nourished by the 
provisions which we place upon their tomb, and drink 
the wine which we pour out there ; so "^hat one of the 
dead to whom nothing is offered U condemned to 
perpetual hunger.'" 

These are very old forms of belief and are quite 
groundless and ridiculous ; and yet they exercised 
empire over man during a great number of generations. 
They governed men's minds ; we shall soon see tliat 
they governed societies even, and that the greater part 
of the domestic and social institutions of the ancients 
was derived from this source. 


The Worship of the Dead. 

This belief very soon gave rise to certain rules of 
conduct./ Since the dead had need of food and drink, 
it appeared to be a duty of the living to satisfy this 
need. The care of supplying the dead with sustenance 
was not left to the caprice or to the variable senti- 
ments of men; it was obligatory. Thus a complete 
religion of the dead was establishedj whose dogmas 
might soon be effaced, but whose rites endured until 
the triumph of Chiistianity. The dead were held to 
be sacred beings. To them the ancients applied tiie 
most respectful epithets that could be thought of; they 

' Lucian, De Luctu. 


called them good, holy, happy. For them they had 
all the veneration that man can have for the divinity 
whom he loves or fears. In their thoughts the dead 
were gods.' 

This sort of apotheosis was not the privilege of 
great men ; no distinction was made among the dead. 
Cicero says, " Our ancestors desired that the men who 
had quitted this life should be counted in the number 
of the gods." It was not necessary to have been even 
a virtuous man : the wicked man, as well as the good 
man, became a god ; but he retained in the second life 
all the bad inclinations which' had tormented Lim in 
the flrst.^ 

The Greeks gave to the dead the name of subter- 
ranean gods. In JEschylus, a son thus invokes his 
deceased father: "O thou who art a god beneath the*'' 
earth." Euripides says, speaking of Alcestis, " Near 
her tomb the passer by will stop and say, ' This is now 
a thrice happy divinity.' "* 

The Romans gave to the dead the name of Manes.t^ 
"Render to the manes what is due them," says Cicero; 
" they are men who have quitted this life ; consider 
them as divine beings."* 

The tombs were the temples of these divinities, and 
they bore the sacramental inscription, Dis Manibm, 
and in Greek, ^colg x^ovlotg. There the god lived 

-Slsch., Choeph., 469. Sophocles, Antig., 451. Plutarch, 
'Jolon, 21; Rom. Quest., 52; Gr. Quest., 5. Virgil, V. 47- 
V". 80. 

'' Cicero, Ve Legib., 22. St. Augustine, City of God, IX. IJ ; 
VIII. 26. ;> J , , 

' Eurip., Ale, 1003, 1015. 

* Cicero, Be Legib., II. 9 Varro, in St. Augustine, Citj, of 
God, VIII. 26. " ■' 


beneath the soil, manesque sepuUi, says Virgil. Be- 
fore the tomb there was an altar for the sacriiices, as 
before the temples of the gods.' 

We find this worship of the dead among the Hel- 
lenes, among the Latins, among the Sabines," among 
the Etruscans ; we also find it among the Aryas of 
India. Mention is made of it in the hymns of the Reg- 
Veda. It is spoken of in the Laws of Manu as the 
iaost ancient worship among men. We see in this 
book that the idea of metempsychosis Lad already 
passed over this ancient belief, even before the religion 
of Brahma was established; and still beneath the 
worship of Brahma, beneath the doctrine of metemp- 
sychosis, the religion of the souls of ancestors still 
subsists, living and indestructible, and compels the 
author of the Laws of Manu to take it into account, 
and to admit its rules into the sacred book. Not the 
least singular thing about this strange book is, that it 
has preserved the rules relative to this ancient belief^ 
whilst it was evidently prepared in an age when a 
belief entirely different had gained the ascendency. 
^ This proves that much time is required to transform 
a human belief, and still more to modify its exterior 
forms, and the laws based upon it!} At the present day, 
even, after so many ages of revolutions, the Hindus 
continue to make offerings to their ancestors. This 
belief and these rites are the oldest and the most persist- 
ent of anything pertaining to the Indo-European race. 
This worship was the same in India as in Greece and 

' Virgil, JEn., IV. 34. Aulua Gellius, X. 18. Plutarch, 

Bom. Quest, 14. Eurip., Troades, 96; Elevtra, 613. Sue- 
tonius, Nero, 50. 

» Varro, De Ling. Lat, V. 74. ■', 


Italy. The Hindu had to supply the manes with the 
^ recast, which was called sraddha. "Let the master 
of the house make the sraddha with rice, milk, roots, 
and fruits, in order to procure for himself the good- will 
of the manes." 

The Hindu believed that at the moment whei. he 
offered this limeral repast, the manes of his ancestore 
came to seat themselves beside him, and took the nour- 
ishment which was offered them. He also believed 
that this repast afforded the dead great enjoyment. 
"When the sraddha is made according to the rites, the 
ancestors of the one who offers it experience un- 
bounded satisfaction." ' 

Thus the Aryas of the East had, in the beginning, 
the same notions as those of the West, relative to man's 
destiny after death. Before believing in metemp- 
sychosis, which supposes an absolute distinction be- 
tween the soul and the body, they believed in the 
vague and indefinite existence of man, invisible, but 
not immaterial, and requiring of mortals nourishment 
and offerings. 

The Hindu, like the Greek, regarded the dead as 
divine beings, who enjoyed a happy existence ; but their 
happiness depended on the condition that the offerings 
made by the living should be carried to them regularly. 
If the sraddha for a dead person was not offered regu- 
larly, his soul left its peaceful dwelling, and became a 
wandering spirit, who tormented the living; so that, 
if the dead were really gods, this was only whilst the 
living honored them with their worship. 

The Greeks and Romans had exactly the same be- 
lief. If the funeral repast ceased to be offered to the 

' LamofManu, I. 95; III. 82, 122, 127, 146, 189, 274. 


dead, they immediately left their tombs, and became 
■wandering shadeB, that were heard in the silence of the 
night. They reproached the living with their negli- 
gence; or they sought to punish them by afflicting 
them with diseases, or cursing their soil with sterility. 
In a word, they left the living no rest till the funeral 
feasts were re-established. The sacrifice, the offering 
of nourishment, and the libation restored them to the 
tomb, and gave them back their rest and their divine 
attributes. Man was then at peace with them.' 

If a deceased person, on being neglected, became a 
malignant spirit, one who was honored became, on 
the other hand, a tutelary deity. He loved those who 
brought him noxu'ishment. To protect them he con- 
tinued to take part in human affairs, and frequently 
played an important part there. Dead though he was, 
he knew how to be strong and active. The living 
prayed to him, and asked his support and his favors. 
When any one came near a tomb, he stopped, and said, 
" Subterranean god, be propitious to me." ' 

We can judge of the power whicli the ancients 
attributed to the dead by this prayer, which Electra 
addresses to the manes of her father : " Take pity on 
me, and on my brother Orestes ; make him return to 
this country ; hear my prayer, O my father ; grant my 

• Ovid, Fast., II. 549-556. Thus in JSschylus: Clytem- 
nestra, V arned by a dream that the manes of Agamemnon are 
irritated against her, hastens to send ofierings to his tomb. 

* Eurip., Ah„ 1004 (1016) : "They believe that if we have 
no care for those dead, and if we neglect their worship, they 
will do us harm, and that, on the contrary, they do us good if 
we render them propitious to us by offerings." Porphyry, De 
Aistin , II. 87. See Horace, Odes, II. 23; Plato, Lavii, IX. p. 
926, 927. 


wishes, receiving my libations." These powerful god 
did not give material aid only ; for Electra adds, " Giv 
me a heart more chaste than my mother's, and pure 
hands." ' Thus the Hindu asks of the manes " tha 
in his family the number of good men may incivas* 
and that he may have much to give." 

These human souls deified by death were what th 
Greeks called demons, or heroes?' The Latins gav 
them the name of Lares, Manes, Genii. " Our ances 
tors believed," says Apuleius, " that the Manes, whei 
they were malignant, were to be called larvce ; the; 
called them Lares when they were benevolent am 
propitious." " Elsewhere we read, " Genius and Lar i 
the same being ; so our ancestors believed." ■* And ii 
Cicero, " Those that the Greeks called demons we eal 

This religion of the dead appears to be the oldes 
that has existed among this race of men. Before raei 
had any notion of Indra or of Zeus, they adored th 
dead ; they feared them, and addressed them prayers 
It seems that the religious sentiment commenced ii 
this way. It was perhaps while looking upon the dea( 

' ^soh., Choeph., 122-133. 

* The primitire sense of this last word appears to have bee 
that of dead men. The language of the inscriptions, which i 
that of the common people among the Greeks, often employs : 
in this sense. Boeckh, Corp. inscript., Nos. 1629, 1723, 1781 
1784, 1786, 1789, 3398. Ph. Lebas, Monum. de Moree, p. 201 
Vide Theognis, ed. Welcker, V. 313. The Greeks also gave t 
one dead the name of Saifimv. Eurip. Ale, 1140, et Scho! 
^seh., Pers., 620. Fausanias, VI. 6. 

' Servins, ad Mn., III. 63. 

* Censorinus, 3. 

' Cicero, Timceus, 11. Dionysius Halicarnasseus translate 
Lar famUiaris by o xa%' oixiav (gcos. {Antiq. Rom., IV. 2.) 


that man first conceived the idea of the supernatural, 
and began to have a hope beyond what he saw. Death 
was the first mystery, and it placed man on the track 
of other mysteries. It raised his thoughts from the 
visible to the invisible, from the transitory to the 
eternal, from the human to the divine. 


The Sacred Fire. 

In the house of every Greek and Roman was an 
altar; on this altar there had always to be a small 
quantity of ashes, and a few lighted coals.' It was a 
sacred obligation for the master of every house to keep 
the fire up night and day. Woe to the house where 
it was extinguished. Every evening they covered the 
coals with ashes to prevent them from being entirely 
consumed. In the morning the first care was to revive 
this fire with a few twigs. The fire ceased to glow upon 
the altar only when the entire family had perished ; 
an extinguished hearth, an extinguished family, were 
synonymous expressions among the ancients.' 

' The Greeks called this altar by various names, |?mjios, 
Iffjfago, iaria; this last finally prevailed in use, and was the 
name by which they afterwards designated the goddess Vesta. 
The Latins called the same altar ara ox focus, 

= Bomeric Rymns, XXIX. Orphic Hymns, LXXXIV. He- 
siod. Opera, 732. iEsch., Agam., 1056. Eurip., Berc. Fur., 
603, 599. Thuc, I. 136. Aristoph., Plut., 795. Cato, De Rt 
Rust., 143. Cicero, Pro Domo, 40. Tibullus, I. 1, 4. Horace, 
Upod., ir. 43. Ovid, A. A., I. 637. Virgil, II. 512. 


It is evident that this usage of keeping fire always 
upon an altar was connected with an ancient belief. 
The rules and the rites which they observed in regard 
to it, show that it was not an insignificant custom. It 
was not permitted to feed this fire with every sort of 
wood; religion distinguished among the trees those 
that could be employed for this use from those it was 
impiety to make use of.' 

It was also a religious precept that this fire must 
always remain pure ; ' which meant, literally, that no 
filthy object ought to be cast into it, and figuratively, 
that no blameworthy deed ought to be committed in 
its presence. There was one day in the year — among 
the Romans it was the first of March — when it was 
the duty of every family to put out its sacred fire, and 
light another immediately.^ But to procure this new 
fire, certain rites had to be scrupulously observed. 
Especially must they avoid using flint and steel for this 
purpose. The only processes allowed were to concen- 
trate the solar rays into a focus, or to rub together 
rapidly two pieces of wood of a given sort.* These 
diflerent rules sufficiently prove that, in the opinion of 
the ancients, it was not a question of procuring an ele- 
ment useful and agreeable; these men saw something 
else in the fire that burnt upon their altars. 

This fire was something divine ; they adored it, and 
offered it a real worship. They made offerings to it 
of whatever they believed to be agreeable to a god — 

' Virgil, VII. 71. Pestus, v. Felids. Plutarch, Numa, 9. 

» Eurip., Berc. Fur., 715. Cato, De Ee Rust., US. Ovid, 
Fast., III. 698. 

^ Macrob. Saturn., 1. 12. 

* Ovid, Fast., III. 143. Festus, v. Felids. Julian, Speech 
on the Sun. 


flowers, fruits, incense, wine, and victims. They be- 
lieved it to have power, and asked for its protection. 
They addressed fervent prayers to it, to obtain those 
eternal objects of human desire — health, wealth, and 
happiness. One of these prayers, which has been pre- 
served to us in the collection of Orphic Hymns, runs 
thus : " Render us always prosperous, always happy, 
O fire; thou who art eternal, beautiful, ever young; 
thou who nourishest, thou who art rich, receive favor- 
ably these our offerings, and in return give us happiness 
and sweet health." ' 

Thus they saw in the fire a beneficent god, who main- 
tained the life of man ; a rich god, who nourished him 
with gifts; a powerful god, who protected his house 
and family. In presence of danger they sought refuge 
near this fire. When the palace of Priam is de- 
stroyed, Hecuba draws the old man near the hearth. 
" Thy ai-ms cannot protect thee," she says ; " but this 
altar will protect us all." " 

See Alcestis, who is about to die, giving her life to 
save her husband. She approaches the fire, and in- 
vokes it in these terms : " O divinity, mistress of this 
house, for the last time I fall before thee, and address 
thee my prayers, for I am going to descend among 
the dead. Watch over my children, who will have no _ 
mother; give to my boy a tender wife, and to my girl 
a noble husband. Let them not, like me, die before 
the time ; but let them enjoy a long life in the midst 
of happiness." ' 

' Orphic Hymns, 84. Plaut., Captiv., II. 2. Tibull., I. 9, 
U. Ovid, A. A., I. 637. Plin., Nat, Mist., XVIII. 8. 

' Virgil, ^n., II. 523. Horace, Epist., I. 6. Ovid, Trist., 
IV. 8, 22. 

' Eurip., Alt; 162-168. 


In misfortune man betook himself to his sacred tire, 
and heaped reproaches upon it; in good fortune lie 
returned it thanks. The soldier who returned from 
war thanked it for having enabled him to escape the 
perils, ^schylus represents Agamemnon returning 
from Troy, happy, and covered with glory. His first 
act is not to thank Jupiter ; he does not goto a temple 
to pour out his joy and gratitude, but makes a sacri- 
fice of thank-offerings to the fire in his own house.' 
A man never went out of his dwelling without address- 
ing a prayer to the fire ; on his return, before seeing 
his wife or embracing his children, he must fall before 
the fire, and invoke it.' 

The sacred fire was the Providence of the family. 
The worship was very simple. The first rule was, that 
there should always be upon the altar a few live coals ; 
for if this fire was extinguished a god ceased to exist. 
At certain moments of the day they placed upon the fire 
diy herbs and wood ; then the god manifested himself 
in a bright flame. They offered sacrifices to him ; and 
the essence of every sacrifice was to sustain and reani- 
mate the sacred fire, to nourish and develop the body 
of the god. This was the reason why they gave 
him wood before everything else; for the same rea- 
.son they afterwards poured out wine upon the altar, 
— the inflammable wine of Greece, — oil, incense, and 
the fat of victims. The god received these offerings, 
and devoured them ; radiant with satisfaction, he 
rose above the altar, and lighted up the worshipper 
with his brightness. Then was the moment to invoke 
him ; and the hymn of prayer went out from the heart 
of man. 

' Msch., Agam., 1015. 

* Cato, De Be Rust,, 2. Eurip., Here. Pur., 523. 


Especially were th« meals of the family religious 
acts. The god presided there. He had cooked the 
bread, and prepared the food ; ' a prayer, therefore, was 
due at the beginning and end of the repast. Before 
eating, they placed upon the altar the first fruits of the 
food ; before drinking, they poured out a libation of 
wine. This was the god's portion. No one doubted 
that he was present, that h« ate and drank ; for did they 
not see the flame increase as if it had been nourished 
by the provisions offei-ed ? Thus the meal was divided 
between the man and the god. It was a sacred cere- 
mony, by which they held communion with each other." 
This is an old belief, which, in the course of time, faded 
from the minds of men, but which left behind it, for 
many an age, rites, usages, and forms of language of 
which even the incredulous could not free themselves. 
Horace, Ovid, and Petronius still supped before their 
fires, and poured out libations, and addressed prayers 
to them.^ 

This worship of the sacred fire did not belong ex- 
clusively to the populations of Greece and Italy-. We 
find it in the East. The Laws of Manu, as they have 
come to us, show us the religion of Brahma completely 
established, and even vergilig towards its decline ; but 
they have preserved vestiges and remains of a religion , 
still more ancient, — that of the sacred fire, — which the 
worship of Brahma had reduced to a secondary rank, 
but could not destroy. The Brahmin has his fire to 
keep night and day; every morning and every evening 
he feeds it with wood ; but, as with \he Greeks, this 

' OTid, Fast., VI. 316. 

" Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 64 ; Comm. on Hesiod, ii- Ilomerit 
Hymns, 29. 
» Horace, Sat., II. 6, 66. Ofid, Fast., II. 631. Petronius, 60. 



muBt be the wood of certain trees. As the Greeks an 
Italians offer it wine, the Hindu pours upon it a fe 
niented liquor, which he calls soma. Meals, too, ai 
religious acts, and the rites are scrupulously describe 
in the Laws of Manu. They address prayers to tl) 
file, as in Greece; they offer it the first fruits of ric 
l)iitter, and honey. We read that " the Brahmin shoul 
not eat the rice of the new harvest without havin 
offered the first fruits of it to the hearth-fire; for tli 
sacred fire is greedy of grain, and when it is not hoi 
ored, it will devour the existence of the negligci 
Brahmin." The Hindus, like the Greeks and the R 
mans, pictured the gods to themselves as greedy n( 
only of honors and respect, but of food and drinl 
Man believed himself compelled to satisfy their hung( 
and thirst, if he wished to avoid their wrath. 

Among the Hindus this divinity of the fire is calle 
Agni. The Rig-Veda contains a great number c 
hymns addressed to this god. In one it is said, " < 
Agni, thou art the life, thou art the protecto/ o 
man. ... In return for our praises, bestow upon tl: 
father of the family who implores thee glory an 
riches. . . . Agni, thou art a prudent defender and 
father; to thee we owe life ; we are thy family." Thi 
the fire of the hearth is, as in Greece, a tutelary powe 
Man asks abundance of it : " Make the earth ever li 
eral towards us." He asked health of it : " Grant thi 
I may enjoy long life, and that I may arrive at old ag 
like the sun at his setting." He even asks wisdom c 
it: "O Agni, thou placest upon the good way tl 
man who has wandered into the bad. . . . Ifwehai 
committed a fault, if we have gone far from thee, pa 
don us." This fire of the hearth was, as in Greec 
essentially pure : the Brahmin was forbidden to thro 
anything filthy into it, or even to warm his feet by : 


As in Greece, the guilty man could not approach his 
hearth before he had purified himself. 

It is a strong proof of the antiquity of this belief, and 
of these practices, to find them at the same time among 
men on the shores of the Mediterranean and amons 
those of the peninsula of India. Assuredly the Greeks 
did not borrow this religion from the Hindus, nor the 
Hindus from the Greeks. But the Greeks, the Italians, 
and the Hindus belonged to the same race ; their an- 
cestors, in a very distant past, lived together in Central 
Asia. There this creed originated and these rites were 
established. The religion of the sacred fire dates, there- 
fore, from the distant and dim epoch when there were 
yet no Greeks, no Italians, no Hindus ; when there 
were only Aryas. When the tribes separated, they 
can-ied this worship with them, some to the banks of 
the Ganges, others to the shores of the Mediterranean. 
Later, when these tribes had no intercourse with encli 
other, some adored Brahma, others Zeus, and still others 
Janus; each group chose its own gods; but all pre- 
served, as an ancient legacy, the first religion which 
they had known and practised in the common cradle 
of their race. 

If the existence of this worship among all the Indo- 
European nations did not sufficiently demonstrate its 
high antiquity, we might find other proofs of it in the 
■religious rites of the Greeks and Romans. In all sac- 
rifices, even in those offered to Zeus or to Athene, the 
first invocation was always addressed to the fire.' 
Every prayer to any god whatever must commence 
and end with a prayer to the fire." At Olympia, the 

' Porphyry, De Abstin., II. p. IOC. Plutarch, De Frigido. 
' Homeric Hymns, 29 ; Ibid., 3, v. 33. Plato, Cratyhis, 18. 


first sacrifice that assembled Greece offered was to the 
hearth-tire, the second was to Zeus.' So, too, at Rome, 
the first adoration was always addressed to Vesta, who 
was no other than the hearth-fire. Ovid says of this 
goddess, that she occupied the first place in the religious 
practices of men. We also read in the hymns of the 
Rig- Veda, " Agni must be invoked before all the other 
gods. We pronounce his venerable name before that 
of all the other immortals. O Agni, whatever other 
god we honor with our sacrifices, the holocaust is 
always offered to thee." ' It is certain, therefore,, that 
at Rome in Ovid's time, and in India in the time of 
the Brahmins, the fire of the hearth took precedence 
■,»f all other gods ; not that Jupiter and Brahma had 
not acquired a greater importance in the religion of 
men, but it was remembered that the hearth-fire was 
much older than those gods. For many centuiies he 
had held the first place in the religions worship, and 
the newer and greater gods could not dispossess him 
of this place. 

The symbols of this religion became modified in the 
course of ages. When the people of Greece and Italy 
began to represent their gods as persons, and to give 
each one a proper name and a human form, the old 
worship of the hearth-fire submitted to the common 
law which human intelligence, in that period, imposed 
upon every religion. The altar of the sacred fire was 
personified. They called it kaila, Vesta; the name 
was the same in Latin and in Greek, and was the same 

Besychius, &tp' sarias. Diodorus, VI. 2. Aristoph., Birds, 

' Pausaniaa, V. 14. 

' Cicero, De Nat. Deorum, II. 27. Ovid, Fast, VI. 804. 


that in the common and primitive language designated 
an altar. By a process frequent enough, a common 
noun had become a proper name. By degrees a legend 
was formed. They pictured this divinity to themselves 
as wearing a female form, because the word used for 
altar was of the feminine gender. They even went so 
far as to represent this goddess in statues. Still they 
could never efface the primitive belief, according to 
which this divinity was simply the fire upon the altar ; 
and Ovid himself was forced to admit that Vesta was 
nothing else than a "living flame." ' 

If we compare this worship of the sacred fire with 
the worship of the dead, of which wo have already 
spoken, we shall perceive a close relation between 

Let us remark, in the first place, that this fire, which 
was kept burning upon the hearth, was not, in the 
thoughts of men, the fire of material nature. What 
they saw in it was not the purely physical element that 
warms and burns, that transforms bodies, melts metals, 
and becomes the powerful instrument of liuman in- 
dustry. The fire of the hearth is of quite another 
nature. It is a pare fire, which can be produced only 
by the aid of certain rites, and can be kept up only with 
certain kinds of wood. It is a chaste fire ; the union 
of the sexes must be removed fhr from its presence.' 
They pray to it not only for riches and health, bat also 
for purity of heart, temperance, and wisdom. "Render 
UB rich and flourishing," says an Orphic hymn ; " make 
us also wise and chaste." Thus the lieai'th-flre is a sort 
of a moral being; it shines, and warms, and cooks the 

' Ovid, Fast., VI. 291. 

' Hesiod, Opera, 731. Plutarch, Coram, on Hes,, frag. 43. 


sacred food ; but at the same time it thinks, and has 
conscience ; it knows men's duties, and sees that tlie; 
are fulfilled. One might call it human, for it has th 
double nature of man ; physically, it blazes up, it move* 
it lives, it procures abundance, it prepares the repasi 
it nourishes the body; morally, it has sentiments an( 
affections, it gives man purity, it enjoins the beautifu 
and the good, it nourishes the soul. One might sa; 
that it supports human life in the double series of it 
manifestations. It is at the same time the source o: 
wealth, of health, of virtue. It is truly the god oi 
human nature. Later, when this worship had beei 
assigned to a second place by Brahma or by Zeus, ther 
still remained in the hearth-fire whatever of divine wa 
most accessible to man. It became his mediator witl 
the gods of physical nature; it undertook to carry b 
heaven the prayer and the offering of man, and to briuj 
the divine favors back to him. Still later, when the; 
made the great Vesta of this myth of the sacred firs 
Vesta was the virgin goddess. She represented in th 
world neither fecundity nor power; she was order, bu 
not rigorous, abstract, mathematical order, the in: 
perious and unchangeable law, (i^ttyx/?, which was earl 
perceived in physical nature. She was moral ordei 
They imagined her as a sort of universal soul, whic' 
regulated the different movements of worlds, as th 
human soul keeps order in the human system. 

Thus are we permitted to look into the way o 
thinking of primitive generations. The principle o 
this worship is outside of physical nature, and is foun 
in this little mysterious world, this microcosm — man. 

This brings us back to the worship of the deac 
Both are of the same antiquity. They were so closel 
associated that the belief of the ancients made but on 


religion of both. Hearth-fire demons, heroes, Lares, 
all were confounded.' We see, from two passages of 
Plautns and Columella, that, in the common language, 
they said, indifferently, hearth or domestic Lares ; and 
we know that, in Cicero's time, they did not distingiiisli 
the hearth-fire from the Penates, nor the Penates from 
the Lares.' In Servius we read, " By hearth the an- 
cients understood the Lares;" and Virgil has writ- 
ten, iudifferenlJy, hearth for Penates and Penates for 
hearth." In a famous passage of the JEneid, Hector 
tells ^neas that he is going to intrust to hira the Trojan 
Penates, and it is the hearth-fire that he commits to 
his care. In another passage jEneas, invoking these 
same gods, calls them at the same time Penates, Lares, 
and Vesta.* 

We have already seen that those whom the ancients 
called Lares, or heroes, were no other than the souls 
of the dead, to which men attributed a superhuman and 
divine power. The recollection of one of these sacred 
dead was always attached to the hearth-fire. In ador- 
ing one, the worshipper could not forget the other. 
Tljey were associated in the respect of men, and in 
their prayers. The descendants, when they spoke of the 
hearth-fire, recalled the name of the ancestor : " Leave 
this place," says Orestes to his sister, "and advance 
towards the ancient hearth of Pelops, to hear my 

' Tibullus, II. 2. Horace, Odes, IV. 11. Ovid., Trist, III. 
13 ; V. 5. Tlie Greeks gave to their domestic gods or heroes 
the epithet of iipinrioi or i(irio«;foi. 

' Plaut., Aulul., II. 7, 16 — In foco nostra Lari. Coluniolla, 
XI. 1, 19 — Laremfocumque familiar em. Cicero, Pro Domo, 
41 ; Pro Quintio, 27, 28. 

•" Servius, in ^n.. III. 13i 

* Virgil,, IX. 259; V. 744. 


words." ' So, too, -^neas, speaking of the sacred fire 
which he transports across the waters, designates it by 
the name of the Lar of Assaracns, as if he saw in this 
fire the soul of his ancestor. 

The grammarian Serving, who was very learned in 
Greek and Roman antiquities (which were studied 
much more in his time than in the time of Cicero), 
saj's it was a very ancient usage to bury the dead in 
tlie houses; and he adds, "As a result of this custom, 
they honor the Lares and Penates in their houses." 
This expression establishes clearly an ancient relation 
between the worship of the dead and the hearth-fire. 
We may suppose, therefore, that the domestic fire was 
in the beginning only the symbol of the worship of the 
dead ; that under the stone of the hearth an ancestor 
I'eposed ; that the fire was lighted there to honor him, 
and that this lire seemed to preserve life in him, or 
represented his soul as always vigilant. 

This is merely a conjecture, and we have no proof 
of it. Still it is certain that the oldest generations of 
the race from which the Greeks and Romans sprang 
worshipped both the dead and the hearth-fire — an an- 
cient religion that did not find its gdds in physical 
nature, but in man himself, and that has for its object 
the a<loration of the invisible being which is in us, the 
nioial : ud thinking power which animates and governs 
our bodies. 

This religion, afler a time, began to lose its power 
over the soul ; it became enfeebled by degrees, but it 
did not disappear. > Contemporary with the first ages 
of the Aryan race, it became rooted so deeply in the 

' Euripides, Orestes, 1140-1 ll2. 

' Servius, in JEn., V. 84 ; VI. 152. See Plato, Minos, p. 315. 



minds of this race that thd brilliant religion of the 
Greek Olympus could not extirpate it; only Christianity 
could do this. We shall see presently what a power- 
ful influence this religion exercised upon the dotnestic 
and social institutions of the ancients. It. was con- 
ceivecl and established in that distant age when this 
race was just forming its institutions, and determined 
the direction of their progress. 

The Domestic Beligiou. 

We are not to suppose that this ancient religion 
resembled those founded when men became more en- 
lightened. For a great number of centuries the human 
race has admitted no religious doctrine except on two 
conditions : first, that it proclaimed but one god ; and, 
second, that it was addressed to all men, and was 
accessible to all, systematically rejecting no class or 
race. But this primitive religion fulfilled neither of 
these conditions. Not only did it not offer one only 
god to the adoration of men, but its gods did not ac- 
cept the adoration of all men. They did not offer 
themselves as the gods of the human race. They did 
not even resemble Brahma, who was at least the god 
of one whole great caste, nor the Panhellenian Zeus,, 
who was the god of an entire nation. In this primitive 
religion each god could be adored only by one family. 
Religion was purely domestic, j^ 

We must illustrate this important point; otherwise 
the intimate relation that existed between this ancient 



leligion and the constitution of the Greek and Romai 
family may not be fully understood. 

The worship of the dead in no way resembled tin 
Christian worship of the saints. One of the first rule 
of this worship was, that it could be offered by eacl 
family only to those deceased persons who belongei 
to it by blood. The funeral obsequies could be reli 
giously performed only by the nearest relative. As ti 
the funeral meal, which was renewed at stated seasons 
the family alone had a right to take part in it, an( 
every stranger was strictly excluded.' They believet 
that the dead ancestor accepted no offerings save fron 
bis own family; he desired no worship save from hii 
own descendants. The presence of one who was no 
of the family disturbed the rest of the manes. Th< 
law, therefore, forbade a stranger to approach a tomb. 
To touch a tomb with the foot, even by chance, was ai 
impious act, after which the guilty one was expectec 
to ,pacify the dead and puiify himself. The word bj 
which the ancients designated the worship of the deac 
is significant ; the Greeks said noTgiiiZsiv, the Roman! 
said parentare. The reason of this was because th< 
prayer and offering were addressed by each one only t( 
his fathers. The worship of the dead was nothing mor< 
than the worship of ancestors.^ Lucian, while ridicul 
ing common beliefs, explains them clearly to us wher 

• Cicero, Be Legib., II. 26. Varro, L. L., VI. 13 — Ferun 
epulas ad sepulcrum quibus jus Hi parentare. Gaius, II. 5 
6 — Si modo mortuifunus ad nos periineat. Plutarch, Solon. 

' Pittacus omnino accedere quemquam vetat infunus aliorum 
Cicero, De Legib., II. 26. Plutarch, Solon, 21. Demosthenes 
in Timocr. Isaeus, I. 

^ In the beginning at least; for later the cities had their loca 
and national heroes, as we shall see. 


he says the man who has died without leaving a 
son, receives no offerings, and is exposed to perpetual 

In India, as in Greece, an offering could be made to 
a dead person only by one who had descended from 
him. The law of the Hindus, like Athenian law, for- 
bade a stranger, even if he were a friend, to be invited 
to the funeral banquet. It was so necessary that these 
banquets should be offered by the descendants of the 
dead, and not by others, that the manes, in their resting- 
place, were supposed often to pronounce this wish: 
" May there be successively born of our line sons who, 
in all coming time, may offer us rice, boiled in millc, 
honey, and clarified butter."' 

Hence it was, that, in Greece and Rome, as in India, 
it was the son's duty to make the libations and the 
sacrifices to the ii^iifis of his father and of all his ances- 
tors. To fail in this duty was to commit the grossest 
act of impiety possible, since the interruption of this 
worship caused the dead to fall from their happy state. 
This negligence was nothing less than the crime of 
parricide, multiplied as many times as there were an- 
cestors in the family. 

If, on the contrary, the sacrifices were always ac- 
complished according to the rites, if the provisions 
were carried to the tomb on the appointed days, then 
the ancestor became a protecting god. Hostile to all 
who had not descended from him, driving them from 
his tomb, inflicting diseases upon them if they ap- 
proached, he was good and provident to his own 

' Lucian, De Ludu. 

' Laws o/Manu, III. 138; III. 274. 


There was a perpetual interchange of good office 
between the living and the dead of each family, Th 
ancestor received from his descendants a series o 
funeral banquets, that is to say, the only enjoyment tha 
was left to him in his second life. The descendan 
received from the ancestor the aid and strength o 
which he had need in this. The living could not d 
without the dead, nor tlie dead without the living 
Thus a powerful bond was established among all th 
generations of the same family, which made • of it i 
body forever inseparable. 

Every family had its tomb, where its dead went t( 
repose, one after another, always together. This torn! 
was generally near the house, nor far from the door 
"in order," says one of the ancients, " that the sons, ir 
entering and leaving then* dwelling, might always meei 
their fathers, and might always address them an invo 
cation." ' Thus the ancestor remained in the midst of 
his relatives ; invisible, but always present, he continuec 
to make a part of the family, and to be its father. Im- 
mortal, happy, divine, he was still interested in all of 
his whom he had left upon the earth. He knew theii 
needs, and sustained their feebleness; and he who still 
lived, who labored, who, according to the ancient ex- 
pression, had not yet discharged the debt of existence, 
he had near him his guides and his supports — his 
forefathers. In the midst of difficulties, he invoked 
their ancient wisdom ; in grief, he asked consolation of 
them ; in danger, he asked their support, and after a 
fault, their pardon. 

Certainly we cannot easily comprehend how a man 
could adore his father or his ancestor. To make of 

■ Eur^ides, Helena, 1163-1168. 


man a god appears to us the reverse of religion. It is 
almost as difficult for us to comprehend the ancient 
creeds of these men as it would have been for them to 
understand ours. But, if we reflect that the ancients 
had no idea of creation, we shall see that the mystery 
of generation was for them what the mystery of crea- 
tion is for us. The generator appeared to them to be 
a divine being ; and they adored their ancestor. This 
sentiment must have been very natural and very strong, 
for it appears as a principle of religion in the origin 
of almost a,ll human societies.. We find it among the 
Chinese as well as among the ancient Getse and Scyth- 
ians, among the tribes of Afiica as well as among 
those of the new world.' 

The sacred fire, which was so intimately associated 
with the worship of the dead, belonged, in its essential 
character, properly to each family. It represented the 
ancestors ; it was the providence of a family, and had 
nothing in common with the fire of a neighboring 
family, which was another providence.* Every fire pro- 
tected its own and repulsed the stranger. The whole 
of this religion was enclosed within the walls of each 
house. The worship was not public. All the cere- 
monies, on the contrary, were kept strictly secret.' 
Performed in the midst of the family alone, th«y were 
concealed from every stranger. The hearth was never 
placed either outside the house or even near the outer 

' Among the Etruscans and the Romans it was a custom for 
every religious family to keep the images of its ancestors ranged 
around the atrium. Were these images simple family portraits, 
or were they idols? 

' 'Earia naTQiia, focus patrius. So in the Vedas Agiii is 
sometimes invoked as « domestic god. 

» Isaeus, VIII. 17, 18. 


door, where it would have been too easy to see.' Th 
Greeks always placed it in an enclosure,'' which pn 
tected it from the contact, or even the gaze, of th 
profane. The Romans concealed it in the interior o 
the house. All these gods, the sacred fire, the Lare 
and the Manes, were called the consecrated gods, c 
gods of the interior. To all the acts of this religio 
secrecy was necessary.' If a ceremony was looke 
upon by a stranger, it was disturbed, defiled, made ui 
fortunate simply by this look. 

There were neither uniform rules nor a commo 
ritual for this domestic religion. Each family w£ 
most completely independent. No external power ha 
I the right to regulate either the ceremony or the creec 
There was no other priest than the father : as a pries 
he knew no hierarchy. The pontifex of Rome, or th 
archon of Athens, might, indeed, ascertain if the fathe 
of a family performed all his religious ceremonies ; bi 
he had no right to order the least modification of then 
Suo quisque ritu sacrifida facial — such was the abs( 
lute rule." Every family had its ceremonies, which wei 
peculiar to itself, its particular celebrations, its formuk 
of prayer, its hymns.* The father, sole interpreter an 
sole priest of his religion, alone had the right to teac 
it, and could teach it only to his son. The rites, th 
forms of prayer, the chants, which formed an essentii 
part of this domestic religion, were a patrimony, a sacre 
property, which the family shai-ed with no one, an 

' This enclosure was called ?g«os. 
' Stoi iitijfioi, dii Penates. 
' Cicero, De Arusp. Resp., 17. 
■* Varro, De Ling. Lat., VII. 88. 

" Hesiod, Opera, 763. Maorobius, Sat., I. 10. Cic, L 
Legih., H. 11. 


which they were even forbidden to reveal to strangers. 
It was the same in India. " I am strong against my 
enemies," says the Brahmin, " from the songs which I 
receive from my family, and which my father has trans- 
mitted to me." ' 

Thus religion dwelt not in temples, but in the house ; 
each house had its gods ; each god protected one fam- 
ily only, and was a god only in one house. We cannot 
reasonably suppose that a religion of this character was 
revealed to man by the' powerful imagination of one 
among them, or that it was taught to them by a priestly 
caste. It grew up spontaneously in the human mind ; 
its cradle was the family ; each family created its own 

This religion could be propagated only by generation. 
The father, in giving life to his son, gave him at the 
same time his creed, his worship, the right to continue 
the sacred fire, to offer the funeral meal, to pronounce 
the fornmlas of prayer. Generation established a mys- 
terious bond between the infant, who was born to life, 
and all the gods of the family. Indeed, these gods 
were his family — deal iy/eveXg ; they were of his blood 
— Ocol aivaiftoi,,' The child, therefore, received at his 
birth the right to adore them, and to offer them sac- 
rifices; and later, when death should have deified him, 
he also would be counted, in his turn, among these gods 
of the family. 

' Rig- Veda, Langlois' trans., v. i. p. 113. The Laws of 
Manu often mention rites peculiar to each family. YII. 3 ; 
IX. 7. 

' Sophocles, Antig., 199; Ibid., 659. Corap. natqmoi fltoi in 
Aristophanes, Wasps, 388; iEschylus, Pers., 404; Sophocles, 
Electra, 411; fleoi yeri^Xioi, Plato, Laws, V. p. 729; Di Oeneris. 
Ovid, Fast, II. 


But we must notice tbis peculiaTi'ty — that the domes- 
tic religion was transmitted only from male to male. 

Tills was owing, no doubt, to the idea that genera- 
tion was due entirely to the males.' The belief of 
primitive ages, as we find it in the Vedas, and as we 
find vestiges of it in all Greek and Roman law, was 
that the repi-oductive power resided exclusively in ihe 
father, The father alone possessed the mystei-ious 
principle of existence, and transmitted the spark of 
life. From this old notion it followed that the domestic 
worship always passed fi-ora male to male ; that a woman 
participated in it only through her father or her hus- 
band ; and, finally, that after death women had not the 
same part as men in the worship and the ceremonies 
of the funei-al meal. Still other important conse- 
quences in private law and in the constitution of the 
family resulted from this: we shall see them as we 

' The Vedas call the sacred Are the cause of male posterity. 
See the MUakchara, Oriannes' trans., p. 139, 




Beligion was the constituent Principle of the ancient 

Ib" we transport ourselves in thought to those an- 
cient generations of men, we find in each house an 
altar, and around this altar the family assembled. The 
family meets every morning to address its first prayers 
to the sacred fire, and in the evening to invoke it for n 
last time. In the course of the day the members are 
once more assembled near the fire for the meal, of 
which they partake piously after prayer and libation. 
In all these religions acts, hymns, which their fiithers 
have handed down, are sung in common by the family. 

Outside the hoUse, near at hand, in a neighboring 
field, there is a tomb — the second home of this family. 
There several generations of ancestors repose together ; 
death has not separated them. They remain groui)ed 
in this second existence, and coutinne to form an in 
dissoluble family.' 

' The use of family tombs by the ancients is incontestable; it 
disappeared only when the beliefs relative to the worship of the 
dead became obscured. The words Tut/io? naT^(j,o:, TMfog T.rir 
4 49 



Between the living part and the dead part of th 
family there ia only tliis distance of a few steps whic 
separates the house from the tomb. On certain dayi 
which are determined for each one by his domesti 
religion, the living assemble near th'^ir ancestors ; the 
offer them the funeral ineal, pour ont milk and wine t 
them, lay out cakes and fruits, or burn the flesh of 
victim to them. In exchange for these offerings the; 
ask protection; they call these ancestors their godf 
and ask them to render the fields fertile, the housi 
prosperous, and their hearts virtuous. 

Generation alone wan not the foundation of thi 
ancient family. "\Yhat proves this is, that the sister di( 
not bear the same relation to the family as the brother 
that the emancipated son and the married danghte: 
ceased completely to form a part of the family ; and, ii 
fine, several other important provisions of the Greel 

TcQOYirojv, appear contiuiially in Greek writers, as tumuliis pa 
trius or avitns, sepulcrum gentis, are found in Koman writers 
See Demosthenes, ire ^uJmZ., 28; in Macart., IS. Lycurgus, t'j 
Leoor., 25. Cicero, De Offic, 1. 17. De Legih., II. 22 — Mortuim 
exto-a gentem inferri fas negant. Ovid, Trist., IV. 3, 45 
Velleius, II. 119. Suetonius, Nero, 50; Tiberivs, 1. Digest 
XI. 5; XVIII. 1, 6. There is an old anecdote that shows \wv 
necessary it was thought to be that every one should be buriec 
in the tomb of his family. It is related that the Lacedaemonians 
when about to join battle with the Messenians, attached to theii 
right arms their name, and those of their fathers, in order that, ir 
case of death, each body might be recognized on the field of 
battle, and transported to the paternal tomb. Justin, III. 5. 
See JSschylus, Sept., 889 (914), ruifiov nax^imv laxai. The 
Greek orators frequently refer to this custom : Isasus, Lysias, 
or Demosthenes, wlien he wishes to prove that such a man be- 
longs to a certain family, and has the right to inherit its property, 
rarely fails to say that this man's father is buried in the tomb of 
this family. 


and Rofnah laws, that ^e shall have bcoasion to ex- 
amine farther along. 

Nor is the family principle natural affection. For 
Greek and Roman law makes no account of this senti- 
ment. The sentiihent may exist in the heart, but it 
is not in the law. The father may have affection for 
his daughter, but he cannot will her his property. The 
laws of succession — that is tO' say, those laws which 
most faithfully reflect the ideas that men had of the 
family — are in open contradiction both with the order 
of birth and with natural affection.' 

The historians of Roman laws, having very justly 
remarked that neither birth nor affection was the foun- / 
datioii of the Roman family, have concluded that this ^ 
foundation must be found in the power of the father 
or husband. They make a sort of piimordial institu- ^ 
tion of this power; but they do not explain how this 
power was established, unless it was by the superiority 
of strength of the husband over the wife, and' of the 
father over the children. Now, we deceive ourselves 
sadly when we thus place force as the origin of law. 
We shall see farther on that the atithority of the father 
or husband, far from having been a first cause, was- 
itself an effect; it was derived from religion, and was 
established by religioii. Superior strength, therefore, 
was not the principle that established the family. 

The members of the ancient family were united by 
something more powerful than birth, affection, or j^hys- / 
ical strength ; this was the religion of the sacred fire, 
and of dead ancestors. This caused the family to form 

' It must be underatood that we here speak of the most an- 
cient law. We shall soon see that, at a later date, these early 
laws were modified. 



a single body, both in this life and in the next. The 
ancient family was a religious rather than a natura] 
J association ^ and we shall see presently that the wife 
was counted in the family only after the sacred cere- 
mony of marriage had initiated her into the worship ; 
that the son was no longer counted in it when he had 
renounced the worship, or had been emancipated; that, 
on the other hand, an adopted son was counted a real 
son, because, though he had not the ties of blood, he 
had something better — a community of worship ; that 
the heir who refused to adopt the worship of this fam- 
ily had no right to the succession; and, finally, that 
relationship and the right of inheritance were governed 
not by birth, but by the rights of participation in the 
worship, such as religion had established them. Re- 
ligion, it is true, did not create the family; but certainly 
it gave the family its rules; and hence it comes that 
the constitution of the ancient family was so different 
from what it would havei^been Lf it had owed its foun- 
dation to natural affection. 

The ancient Greek language has a very significant 
word to designate a family. It is inlauov, a word 
which signifies, literally, t/iat which is near a hearth. 
A family was a group of persons whom religion per- 
mitted to invoke th-e same sacred fire, and to offer the 
funeral repast to the same ancestors. 



The first institution tliat the domestio religion estab- 
iished, probably, was maniage. 

We must remark that this worship of the sacred fire 
and of ancestors, which was transmitted from male to 
male, did not belong, after all, exclusively to man ; 
woman had a part in it. As a daughter, she took part 
in the religious acts of her father; as a wife, in those 
of her liusband. 

From this alone we see the essential character of the 
conjugal union among the ancients. Two families live 
side by side; but they have different gods. In one, a 
young daughter takes a part, from her infancy, in the 
religion of her father; she invokes his sacred fire; 
every day she offers it libations. She surrounds it with 
flowers and garlands on festal days. She asks its pro- 
tection, and returns thanks for its favoi^ This paternal 
fire is her god. Let a young man of the neighboring 
family ask her in marriage, and something more is at 
stake than to pass from one house to the other. She 
must abandon the paternal fire, and henceforth invoke 
that of the husband. She must abandon her religion, 
practise other rites, and pronounce other prayers. She 
must give up the god of her infancy, and put herself 
under the protection of a god whom she knows not. 
Let her not hope to remain faithful to the one while 
honoring the other; for in this religion it is an im- 
mutable principle that the same person cannot invoke 
two sacred fires or two series of ancestors. "Prom the 


hour of maniage," says one of the ancients, "the wife 
has no longer anything in common with the domestic 
religion of her fathers; she sacrifices at the hearth of 
her husband." ' 

Marriage is, therefore, a grave step for the yonng girl, 
and not less grave for the husband ; for this religion 
requires that one shall have been born near the sacred 
fire, in order to have the right to sacrifice to it. And 
yet he is now about to bring a stranger to this hearth ; 
with her he will perform the mysterious ceremonies of 
his worship ; he will reveal the rites and formulas which 
are the patrimony of his family. There is nothing more 
precious than this heritage; these gods, these rites, 
these hymns which he has received from his fathers, 
are what protect him in this life, and promise him 
riches, happiness, and virtue. And yet, instead of 
keeping to himself this tutelary power, as the savage 
keeps his idol or his amulet, he is going to admit a 
woman to share it with liim. 

Thus, when we penetrate the thoughts of these an- 
cient men, we see of how great importance to them was 
the conjugal union, and how necessary to it was the 
intervention of religion. Was it not quite necessaiy 
that the young girl should be initiated into the religion 
that she was henceforth to follow by some sacred 
ceremony ? Was not a sort of ordination or adoption 
necessary for her to become a priestess of this sacred 
fire, to which she was not attached by birth ? 

Maniage wag this sacred ceremony, which was to 
produce these important efiects. The Greek and Ro- 
man writers habitually designate marriage by a word 
indicative of a religious act.' Pollux, who lived in the 

' Stephen of Byzantium, jtetjo. 
' Qvett yvtfiov, sacrum nuptiale. 


time of the Antonines, but who was well instructed in 
the ancient usages of his langaage^ says, that in ancient 
times, instead of designating marriage by its particular 
name, •i&fio;, thpy designated it simply by the word 
tHoc, which signifies sacred ceremony,' as if marriage 
had been, in those ancient times, the ceremony sacred 
above all others. 

Now, the religion that created marriage was not that 
of Jupiter, of Juno, or of the other gods of Olympus. 
The ceremony did not take place in a temple ; it was 
performed in a house, and the domestic god presided. 
When the religion of the gods of the sky became pre- 
ponderant, men could not help invoking them also in 
the prayers of marriage, it is true; it even became 
habitual to go to the temple before the marriage, and 
offer sacrifices to these gods. These sacrifices were 
called the preludes of marriage ; ' but the principal and 
essential part of the ceremony always took place before 
the domestic hearth. 

Among the Greeks the marriage ceremony consisted, 
oo to speak, of three acts. The first took place before 
the hearth of the father, iyyiiiyo-ts ; the third before the 
hearth of the husband, lilog ; the second was the 
passage from the one to the other, ■do/iinj/ij' 

1. In the paternal dwelling, in the presence of the 
future bridegroom, the father, surrounded ordinarily 

• Pollux, III. 3, 38. 

' HQoriXeia, Tt^oyafiia, PolIUX, III. 38. 

' Homer, HI, XVIII. 391. Hesiod, Seutum, v. 275. Herod- 
otus, VI. 129, 130. Plutarch, Theseus, 10 1 Lycurg., passim. 
Solon, 20; Aristides, 20; Gr. Quest., 27. Deniosthcpes, in 
Siephanum, II. Isseus, III. 39. Euripides, Selena, 722-725 ; 
Fhen., 315. Harpocration, t. r'a/ii/'Aia. Pollux, III. c. 3. The 
same usage among the Macedonians, Quiutus Curtius, VIII. 16. 


by his family, offers a sacrifice. The sacrifice con- 
cluded, he declares — pronouncing a sacramental formu- 
la;— that he gives his daughter to the young man. 
This declaration is absolutely indispensable to the 
marriage ; for the young girl would not be able to go 
at once to worship at the hearth of her husband, if her 
father had not already separated her from the pater- 
tal hearth. To enable her to adopt her new religion, 
she must be freed from every bond that attaches her 
to her first religion. 

2. The young girl is cnrried to the house of the hus- 
band. Sometimes the husband himself conducts her. 
In certain cities the duty of bringing her belongs to 
one of those men who, among the Greeks, were clothed 
with a sacerdotsl character, and who were called 
heralds. The Lride was usually placed upon a car; her 
face was cove: ud with a veil, and on her head was a 
crown. The crown, as we shall often have occasion 
to see, was used in all the ceremonies of this worship. 
She was dressed in white. White was the color of the 
vestments in all the religious acts. She was preceded 
by a torch — the nuptial torch. For the whole dis- 
tance they sang around her religious hymns, whose 
refrain was S iSjUi^y, & i/iii'ais. This hymn they called 
the hymeneal, and the importance of this sacred chant 
was St) great that they gave its name to the whole 

The biide dares not go of her own accord into her 
new dwelling. Her husband must take her, and simu- 
late a seizure by force. She must cry out, and the 
women that accompany her must pretend to defend 
her. Why this rite ? Is it a symbol of the modesty 
of the bride ? This is hardly probable : the moment for 
shame has not yet come ; for what is now to take place 


is a veligious ceremony. Was it not to mark more 
strongly that the wife, who was now to sacrifice to this 
fire, had herself no right there, that she did not ap- 
proach it of her own free will, and that the master of 
the plnce and of the god introduced her by an act of 
his power? However this may be, after a feigned 
straggle, the husband raises her in his arms, and carries 
her through the doorway, taking great care, however, 
that her feet do not touch the sill. 

What precedes is only a preparation, a prelude to 
the ceremony. The sacred act now commences in the 

3. They approach the hearth; the wife is brought 
into the presence of the domestic divinity. She is 
sprinkled with the lustral water. She touches the 
sacred fire. Prayers are repeated. Finally, the husband 
and wife share between themselves a cake or a loaf. 

This sort of light meal, which commences and ends 
with a libation and a prayer, this sharing of nourish- 
ment in presence of the fire, puts the husband and wife 
in religious communion with each other, and in com- 
munion with the domestic gods. 

The Roman marriage closely resembled that of 
Greece, and, like it, comprised three acts — traditio, 
deductio in domum, confarreaHo.^ 

' Varro, L. L., 61. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, II. 25, 26. 
Ovid, Fasi., II. 658. Plutarch, Ram. Quest., I. 29; Romul., 
15; Plin., N. B., XVIII. 3. Tacit. Ann., IV. 16; XI. 27. 
Juvenal, Sat. X. 320-336. Gaius, Insl., I. 112. Uplian, IX. 
Digest, XXIII. 2, 1. Festus, v. Eapi. Macrobius, Sat., I. 15. 
Servius, ad ^n., IV. 168. The same custom among the Etrus- 
cans, Varro, De Re Rust., II. 4. The same custom among the 
ancient Hindus, Laws of Manu, III. 27-30, 172 ; V. 152 ; VIII. 
227; IX. 194. Mitakchara, Orianne's trans., p. 166, 167, 236, 


1. The young giil quits the paternal hearth. As she 
is not attiiched to this hearth by her own right, but 
through the father of the family, the authority of the 
father only can detach her from it. The tradition is, 
therefore, an indispensable ceremony. 

2. The young girl is conducted to the house of the 
husband. As in Greece, she is veiled. She wears a 
crown, and a nuptial torch precedes the cortege. Those 
about her sing an ancient religious hymu. The words 
of this hymn changed doubtless with time, accom- 
modating themselves to the vaiiations of belief, or to 
those of the language ; but the sacramental refrain 
continued from age to age without change. It was 
the word Talassie, a word whose sense the Komans of 
Horace's time no more understood than the Greeks 
understood the word ifdvai-e, and which was, probably, 
the sacred and inviolable remains of an ancient formula. 

The cortege stops before the house of the husband. 
There the bride is presented with fire and water. The 
fire is the emblem of the domestic divinity ; the water 
is the lustral water, that serves the family for all 
religious acts. To introduce the bride into the house, 
violence must be pretendpfJ, as in Greece. The hus- 
band must take her in his arms, and carry her over 
the (Bill, without allowing her feet to touch it. 

3. The bride is then led before the hearth, where the 
Penates, and all the domestic gods, and the images of 
ancestors, are grouped around the sacred fire. As in 
Greece, the husband and wife oflfer a sacrifice, pouring 
out a libation, pronouncing prayers, and eating a cake 
of wheaten flour (pdnis farreusi)} 

' We shall speak presently of other forms of marriage in use 
among the Romans, in which religion had no part. Let it suffice 
to say here, that the sacred marriage appears to us to be the 


This cake, eaten during the recitation of prayers, in 
the presence and under the very eyes of the domestic 
divinitiies, makes the union of the husband and wife 
sacred. Henceforth they are associated in the same 
worship. The wife has the same gods, the same rites, 
the same prayers, the same festivals as her husband. 
Hence this old definition of marriq,ge, which the jurists 
haye preserved to us : Nupticp sunt divini juris et 
kumani communicaHo ; and this other : Uxor sociq, 
humancB rei atque divinee.^ This is because the wife 
participates in the worship of the husband ; this wife 
whom, according to the expression of Plato, the gods 
themselves have introduced into the house. 

The wife, thus married, also worships the dead; but 
it is not to her own ancestors that she carries the fivner 
ral repast. S,he no longer has this right. Marriage 
has completely detached her from the family, and has 
interrupted all the religious relations that she had with 
it. Her offerings she carries to the ancestors of her 
husband ; she is of their family ; they have becoine her 
ancestors. Marriage has Ijeen for her a second bii'tli ; 
she is henceforth the daughter of her husband ; J?^«<» 
laco, say the jurists. One could not belong to two 
fiamilies, or to two dornestic religions ; the wife belongs 
entii'ely to her husbajidis family, and to his religion. 
We shall see the consequences of this rule in the right 
pf sqpcessiqn. 

The institution of sacred marriage must be as old in 
the Inf3p-European race as the domestic religion ; for 
the one could not exist witbout the q^her. This religion 

oldest; for it corresponds to the most ancient beliefs, and dis- 
appeared only as tho?e beliefs died out. 

' Digest, XXIII. title 2. Code, IX. 32, 4. Dionysiusi pf 
Haliparnassus, II. 25 : JCoikuios xQVI^ii'^f"f ""' t^S^,^- Stephen 
of Byzantium, a-ur^a. 


taught man that the conjagal union was something 
more than a relation of the sexes and a fleeting affeo- 
tion, and united man and wife by the powerful bond of 
the same worship and the same belief. The marriage 
ceremony, too, was so solemn, and produced eflfects so 
grave, that it is not surprising tliat these men did not 
think it permitted or possible to have more than one 
wife in each house. Such a religion could not admit 
of polygamy. 

We can understand, too, that such a marriage was 
indissoluble, and that divorce was almost impossible. 
The Roman law did indeed permit the dissolution of 
the marriage by coemptio, or by usus. But the dissolu- 
tion of the religious marriage was very difficult. For 
that, a new sacred ceremony was necessary, as religion 
alone could separate what religion had united. The 
effect of the confarreatio could be destroyed only by 
the diffarreatio. The husband and wife who wished 
to separate appeared for the last time before the com- 
mon hearth ; a priest and witnesses were present. As 
on the day of marriage, a cake of wheaten flour was 
presented to the husband and wife.' But, instead of 
sharing it between them, they rejected it. Then, in- 
stead of prayers, they pronounced formulas of a strange, 
severe, spiteful, frightful character," a sort of maledic- 
tion, by which the wife renounced the worship and 
gods of the husband. From that moment the religious 
bond was broken. The community of worship having 
ceased, every other common interest ceased to exist, 
and the marriage was dissolved. 

■ Festus, T. Diffarreatio. Pollux, III. c. 3 : Icnonoun}]. 
We read, in an inscription, Sacerdos confarreaiionum et diffar- 
reationum. Orelli, No. 2648. 

* 0qixi>iri, ttXXixoTa, axuSqAna. Plutarch, Som. Quest , 60. 



Continuity of the Family. Celibacy forbidden. Divorce 
in Case of Sterility. Inequality between the Son and 

The belief relative to the dead, and to the worship 
that was due them, founded the ancient family, and 
gave it the greater part of its rules. We have seen 
above that man, after death, was reputed a happy and 
divine being, but on the condition that the living con- 
tinued to ofiFer him the funeral repasts. If these offer- 
ings ceased, the dead ancestor fell to the rank of an 
unhappy and malevolent demon. For when these 
ancient generations began to picture a future life to 
themselves, they had not dreamed of rewards and pun- 
ishments ; they imagined that the happiness of the 
dead depended not upon the life led in this state of 
existence, but upon the way in which their descendants 
treated them. Every father, therefore, expected of his 
posterity that series of funeral repasts which was tg,- 
assure to his manes repose and happiness. 

This opinion was the fundamental principle of do- 
mestic law among the ancients. From it followed, in 
the first place, this rule, that every family must per- 
petuate itself forever. It was necessary to the dead 
that the descendants should not die out. In the tomb 
where they lived this was the only inquietude which 
they experienced. Their only thought, their only in- 
terest, was, that there should be a man of their blood to 
carry them oflferings at the tomb. The ' Hindu, 'too. 


believed that the dead repeated continually, "Mi 
there be born in our line sons who shall bring us ric 
milk, and honey." The Hindu also had this sayinj 
"The extinction of a family causes the ruin of the r 
ligion of this family ; the ancestors, depiived of the offe 
in'g of cakes, fall into the abode of the unhappy." ' Tl 
men of Italy and Greece long held to the same notior 
If they have not left us in their writings an opinion i 
clearly expressed as in the old books of the East, the 
laws, at least, remain to attest their ancient opinion 
At Athens the law made it the duty of the first magi 
trate of the city to see that no family should becon 
extinct.'' In the same way, the Roman law made pr 
vision that no family should fail and become extinci 
We read in the discourse of an Athenian orate 
" There is no man who, knowing that he must die, 
so careless about himself as to wish to leave his fami 
without descendants ; for then there would be no oi 
to render him that woi-ship that is due to the dead.' 
Every one, therefore, had an interest in leaving 
son after him, coiivinced that his immortal happinei 
depended upon it. It was even a duty towards thoi 
ancestors whose happiness could last no longer ths 
the family lasted. The Laws of Manu call the olde 
son " the one who is begotten for the accomplishmei 
of a duty." 

/ Here we touch upon one of the most remarkab 

I characteristics of the ancient family. The religion thi 

Vhad founded it required that it should never peiish. 

When a family becomes extinct, a worship dies ot 

We must take these families at a time before the belie 

' Bhagavad-Gita, I. 40. « Isaeus, VII. 30-32. 

" Cicero, De £egib.,ll. 19. * Isseus, VII. 30. 


had yet been altered. Each one of them posseBsed a 
religion and gods, a pi'ecious trust, over which it was 
required to watch. The greatest misfortune that its 
piety had to fear, was that its line of descendants might 
cease and come to an end ; for then its religion would 
disappear from the earth, its fire would be extinguished, 
and the whole series of its dead would fall into obliv- 
ion and eternal misery. The great interest of human 
life was to continue the descent, in order to continue 
the worship. 

In view of these opinions, celibacy was a grave im- y 
piety and a misfortune ; an impiety, because one who 
did not marry put the happiness of the manes of the 
family in peril ; a misfortune, because he himself would 
receive no woi'ship after his death, and could not know 
" what the manes enjoyed." Both for himself and for 
his ancestors it was a sort of damnation. 

We can easily believe that in the absence of laws 
such a belief would long be sufficient to prevent celi- 
bacy. But it appears, moreover, that, as soon as there 
were laws, they pronounced celibacy to be wrong, and 
a punishable oftence. Diohysius of Halicarnassus, 
who had searched the ancient annals of Biome, asserts 
that he had seen an old law which required young 
people to marry.' Cicero's treatise on the laws — a 
treatise which almost always reproduces, under a philo- 
sophic form, the ancient laws of Rome — contains a 
law which forbids celibacy." At Sparta, the legislation 
of Lycurgus deprived^ the man who did not marry of 
all the rights of citizenship.' We know from many 
anecdotes, that when celibacy ceased to be forbidden 

' Dionysiu8 of Halicarnassus,. IX. 22. 

» Cicero, De Legib., III. 2. 

' Plutarch, Lycurg., Apoth. of the Lacedamonians. 


by laws, usage still forbade it. Finally, it appears 
from a passage of Pollux, that in many Greek cities 
the law punished celibacy as a crime.' This was in 
accordance with the ancient belief: man did not belong 
to himself; he belonged to the family. He was one 
member in a series, and the series must not stop with 
him. He was not born by chance ; he had been intro- 
duced into life that he might continue a worship ; he 
must not give up life till he is sure that this worship 
will be continued after him. 

But to beget a son is not sufficient. The son who is 
to perpetuate the domestic religion must be the fruit 
of a religious marriage. The bastard, the natural son, 
he whom the Greeks called vddog, and the Romans 
spurius, could not perform the part which religion 
assigned to the son. In fact, the tie of blood did not 
of itself alone constitute the family ; the tie of a com- 
mon worship had to be added. Now, the son born of 
^ a woman who had not been associated in the worship 
of the husband by the ceremony of marriage could not 
himself take any part in the worship.' He had no 
right to offer the funeral repast, and the family was 
not perpetuated for him. "We shall see, farther on, 
that for the same reason he had not the right of in- 

Marriage, then, was obligatory. Its aim was not 
/ pleasure; its principal object was not the union of two 
! beings who were pleased with each other, and who 
1 wished to go united through the pleasures and the 
\ trials of life. The effect of marriage, in the eyes of 
\ religion and of the laws, was the union of two beings 

' Pollux, Til. 48. 

' Isseus, VII. Demosthenes, in Macart. 


in the same domestic worship, in order to produce from 
them a third who would be qualified to continue the 
worship. We see this plainly by the sacramental 
formula that was pronounced in the act of marriage. 
Ducere uxorem liberum qucerendbrum causa was the 
Roman expression; Tialdov in' diQoia ynjalhiv was the 

This marriage having been contracted only to per- 
petuate the family, it seemed just that it should be 
broken if the wife was sterile. The right of divorce, in 
this case, always existed among the ancients ; it is 
even possible that divorce was an obligation. In India 
religion piSscribed that the sterile woman should be re- 
placed by another at the end of eiglit years.'^ That tlie 
duty was the same in Greece and Rome, there is no 
formal text to prove. Still Herodotus meiitions two 
kings of Sparta who were constr.iined to repudiate 
their wives on account of sterility.'' As to Rome, every 
one knows the history of Carviiius Ruga, whose divorce 
is the first of which the Roman annals make mention. 
"Carviiius Ruga," says Aulus Gellius, " a man of rank, 
separated from his wife by divoi'ce because he could 
not have children by her. He loved. her tenderly, and 
had no reason to complain of her conduct; but he sac- 
rificed his love to the sanctity of his oath, because he 
had sv\ orn (in the formula of marriage) that he took 
her to wife in order to have children." * 

Religion demanded. that the family should never bc- 

' Menander, /r. 185, ed. Didot. Alciphron,. I. 16. Msa\\., 
Agam,., 1166, ed. Hermann. 
' Laws of Marm,lS.. 8\.- 
3 Herodotus, V. 39; VI. 61. 
< Aulus Gellius, IV. 3. Valerius Maximus, II. 1, 4. Dionjrs., 

II. 25. 



come extinct; all affection and all natural right had 
to give way before this absolute rule. If the sterility 
of a marriage was due to the husband, it was no less 
necessary that the family should be continued. In that 
case, a brother or some other relative of the husband 
had to be substituted in his place. The child born of 
such a connection was 'held to be the son of the hus- 
band, and continued his worship. Such were the rules 
among the ancient Hindus. We find them again in 
the laws of Athens, and in those of Sparta.' So pow- 
erful was the empire of this religion ! So much did 
religious duty surpass all others ! 

For a still stronger reason, ancient laws prescribed 
the marriage of the widow, when she had had no chil- 
dren, with the nearest relative of her husband. The 
son born of such a union was reputed to be the son of 
the deceased.' The birth of a daughter did not fulfil 
the object of the marriage; indeed, the daughter could 
not continue the worship, for the reason that on the 
day of her marriage she renounced the family and wor- 
ship of her father, and belonged to the family and 
religion of her husband. The family, like the worship, 
was continued only by the males — a capital fact, the 
consequences of which we shall see farther on. 

It was, therefore, the son who was looked for, and 
who was necessary; he it was whom the family, the 
ances^tovs, and the sacred fire demanded. "Through 
liim," according to the old laws of the Hindus, " a father 
pays the debt due to the manes of his ancestors, and 
assures immortality to himself." This son was not less 

' Xenophon, Gov. of the Laced. Plutarch, Solon, 20. Xoivs 
ofManu, IX. 121. 

= Laws of Manu, IX. 69, 146. The same ia true of the 
Hebrews- Deuteron., 28. 


precious in the eyes of the Greeks ; for hiter he was to 
perform the sacrifices, offer the funeral repast, and 
preserve by his worship the domestic religion. In 
accordance with this idea, old ^schylus calls the son 
the savior of the paternal hearth." 

The entrance of this son into the family was signal- 
ized by a religious act. First, he had to be accepted 
by the father, who, as master and guardian of the 
hearth, and as a representative of his ancestors, had to 
decide whether the new comer was or was not of the 
family. Birth formed only the physical bond ; the 
declaration of the father formed the religions and moral 
bond. This formality was equally obligatory in Greece, 
in Rome, and in India. 

A sort of initiation was also required for the son, as 
we have seen it was for the daughter. This took place 
a short time after birth — the ninth day at Rome, the 
tenth in Greece, the tenth or twelfth in India.' On 
that day the father assembled the family, assembled 
witnesses, and offered a sacriiice to his fire. The child 
was presented to the domestic gods; a female carried 
him in her arms, and ran, carrying him, several times 
round the sacred fire.' This ceremony had a double 
object; first, to purify the infant — that is to say, to free 
him from the stain which the ancients supposed he had 
contracted by the mere fact of gestation ; an.d, second, 
to initiate him into the domestic worship. From this 
moment the infant was admitted into this sort of sacred 
society or small church that was called the family. He 
possessed its religion, he practised its rites, he was 

' Msch., Choeph., 264 (262). 

* Aristophanes, Birds, 922. Demosthenes, in Bosot.,p. 1016. 
Macrobius, Sat., I. 17. Laws of Manu, II. 30. 
^ Plato, Thecetetus. Lysias, in Harpocration, v. 'AiiipiJQofi n. 


qualified to repeat its prayers ; he honored its ances- 
tors, and at a later period he would himself become 
an honored ancestor. 


Adoption and Emancipation. 

Thb duty of perpetuating the domestic worship 
was the foundation of the law of adoption among the 
ancients. The same religion which obliged a man to 
many, which pronounced a divorce in case of sterility, 
which, in case of impotence or of premature death^ 
substituted a relative in ])lace of the husband, still 
offered to a family one final resource to escape the so 
much dreaded misfortune of extinction ; this resource 
was the right of adoption. "He to whom nature has 
denied a son can adopt one, so that the funeral cere- 
monies-may not cease." Thus speaks the old legislator 
of the Hindus.' We have a curious plea of an Athe- 
nian orator in a case where the legitimacy of a son's 
adoption was contested. The defendant shows us first 
the motive for which one adopted a son. "Menecles," 
he says, " did not wish to die without children ; he was 
desirous of leaving behind him some one to bury him, 
and in after time to perform the ceremonies of the 
funeral worship." He then goes on to show what will 
happen if the tribunal annuls his adoption ; what will 
happen, not only to himself, but to the one who has 
adopted him. Menecles is dead, and still it is the in 
terest of Menecles that is at stake. « If yon annul my 

' Laws of Manu, 130 10. 


adoption, you will leave Meneeles, who is dead, with- 
out a son ; and consequently no one will perform the 
sacrifices in his honor, no one Avill offer him the funeral 
repast, and thus he will be without worship." ' 

To adopt a son, was then, to watch over the per- 
petuity of the domestic religion, the safety of the 
sacred fire, the continuation of the funeral offerings', 
and the repose of the manes of the ancestors. Tliere 
being no reason for adoption, except the necessity of 
preventing the extinction of a worship, it was per- 
mitted only to one who had no son. The law of the 
Hindus is formal on this point." That of the Athe- 
nians is not less so ; all the orations of Demosthenes 
against Leochares are proof of this.^ No particular 
passage proves that this was the case in the old Roman 
law, and we know that in the time of Gaius a man 
might have at the same time sons by nature and sons 
by adoption. It appears, however, that this point was 
not admitted as legal in Cicero's time ; for in one of 
his orations the orator expresses himself thus: "What 
is the law concerning adoption ? Why, that he may 
adojit children who is no longer able to have children 
himself, and who failed of having them when he was 
of an age to expect it. To adopt is to seek, by regular 
and sacerdotal law, that which by the ordinary process 
of nature he is no longer able to obtain." * Cicero 
attacks the adoption of Clodius, taking the ground that 
the man who has adopted him already has a son, and 

' Isseus, II. 10-46. 

' Laws of Manu, X. 168, 174. Dattaca- Sandriea, Oriaii< 
ne 9 trans., p. 260. 
' See also Isseus, II. 11-14. 
< Cicero, Pro Domo, 13, 14. Aulus Gellius, V. 19. 


he declares that this adoption is contrary to sacer- 
dotal law. 

When a son was adopted, it was necessary, first of 
all, that he should be initiated into a form of worship, 
"introduced into a domestic religion, brought into the 
presence of new Penates." ' Adojition, therefore, was 
accompanied by a ceremony very like that which took 
place at the birth of a son. In this way the new comer 
was admitted to the hearth, and associated in the new 
religion. Gods, sacred objects, rites, prayers, all be- 
came common between him and his adopted father. 
They said of him. In sacra transiit — He has passed 
to the worship of the new family.' 

By this very ceremony he renounced the worship of 
the old one." We have seen, indeed, that accordr 
ing to this ancient belief, the same man could not sac- 
rifice at two hearths, or honor two series of ancestors. 
Admitted to a new house, the old became foreign to 
him. He no longer had anything in common with the 
hearth near which he was born, and could no longer 
offer the funeral repast to his own ancestors. The ties 
of birth were broken ; the new tie of a common worship 
took the ascendency. The man became so completely 
a stranger to his own family, that, if he happened to 
die, his natural father had no right to take charge of 
the funeral, or to conduct the procession. The adopted 
son could not return again to the old family; or, at 
most, the law permitted this only when, having a son, 
he left that son to take his place in the adoptive fam- 
ily. They considered that, the perpetuity of this family 

' 'Eni TCI icglt aytir. Is£ens, VII. Venire in Sacra, Cicero, 
Pro Domo, 13 ; in Penates adsdscere, Tacitus, Hist., I. 15. 
' Valerius Maximus, VII. 7. 
' Amissis sacris paternis, Cicero, ibid. 


being thus assured, he might leave it; but, in tliis 
case, he severed all the ties that bound him to his 
own son.' 

Emancipation corresponded, as a correlative, to adop- 
tion. In order that a son might enter a new family, it 
was necessary that he should be able to leave the old ; 
that is to say, that he should be emancipated from its 
religion." The principal effect of emancipation was the 
renunciation of the worship of the family in which one 
was born. The Romans designated this act by the 
very significant name of sacrorum detestatio." 

Of Einship. Of what the Romans called Agnation. 

Plato says that kinship is the community of the 
same domestic gods." When Demosthenes wishes to 
prove that two men are relatives, he shows that they 
practise the same religious rites, and offer the funeral 
repast at the same tomb. Indeed, it was the domestic 
religion that constituted i-elationship. Two men could 
call themselves relatives when they had the same gods, 
the same sacred fire, and the same funeral repast. 

Now, w© have already observed that the right to 

' Isseua, VI. 44; X. 11. Demosthenes, against Leochares. 
Antjphon., Frag., 15. Comp. Laws of Mamu, IX. 142. 

" Consueiudo apud antiquos fuit ut qui in familiam irans- 
iret prius se abdicaret ah ea in qua natus fiierai. Servius, ad 
JEn., 11. UG. 

" Aulus Gelllus, XV. 27. 

• Plato, Laws, V. p. 729. 


offer sacrifices to the sacred fire was transmitted only 
from male to male, and that the worship of the dead 
was addressed to the ascendants in the male line only. 
It followed from this rule that one could not be related 
through females. In the opinion of those ancient gen- 
erations, a female transmitted neither being nor wor- 
ship. The son owed all to the father. Besides, one 
could not belong to two families, or invoke two fires ; 
the son, therefore, had no other religion or other family 
than that of the father.' How could there have been a 
maternal family? His mother herself the day on which 
^he saci'ed rites of mnrriage were performed, had abso- 
lutely renounced her own family; from that time she 
had offered the funeral repast to her husband's ances- 
tors, as if she had become their daughter, and she liad 
no longer offerc 1 it to her own ancestors, because she 
■was no longer i-onsidered as descended from tbem. She 
had preserved neither religious nor legal connection 
with the family in which she was born. For a still 
stronger reason her son had nothing in common with 
this family. 

The foundation of relationship was not birth ; it 
was worship. This is seen clearly in India. There the 
chief of the family, twice each month, offers the funeral 
repast; he presents a cake to the manes of his father, 
anolhei' to his paternal grandfather, a third to his great- 
graudtiither; never to those from whom he is descended 
on the mother's side, neither to his mother, nor to his 
mother's father. Afterwards, ascending still higher, but 
always in the same line, he makes an offering to fourth, 
fifth, and sixth ascendant. The offering to these last is 

' Patris, non matris, familiam sequiiur. Digest, 60, tit 
16, § 196. 


lighter; it i.s a libaliim of water and a few grains of 
rice. Such is the funeral repast; and it is according 
to the accomplishment of these rites that relationsliip 
is reckoned. When two men, who offer their funeral 
repasts separately, can, each one, by ascending through 
a series of six ancestors, find one who is common to 
both, they are akin. They are called samanodacas, 
if the common ancestor is one of those to whom they 
offer only the libation of water ; sapindas, if he is of 
those to whom the cake is presented.' Counting ac- 
cording to our usage, the relation of the sapindas 
would go to the seventh degree, and that of the sa- 
manodacas to the fourteenth. In both cases the rela- 
tionship is shown by the fact that both make an offer- 
ing to the same ancestor; and we see that in this 
system the relationship through females cannot be 

The case was the same in the West. There has 
been much discussion as to what the Roman jurists 
understood by agnation. But the problem is of easy 
solution as soon as we bring agnation and the domestic 
religion together. Just as this religion was transmitted 
only from male to male, so it is attested by all the 
ancient jurists, that two men can be " agnates " only 
when, ascending from male to male, they were found 
to have common ancestors.' The rule for agnation 
was, then, the same as that for worship. There was 
between these two things a manifest relation. Agna- 
tion was nothing more than relationship such as re- 
ligion had originally established it. 

' Laws of Manu, y. 60; MitaJcchara, Ormnne'a trans., -p. 213. 
'■' Gaius, 1. 156 ; III 10. Ulpian, 26. Institutes of Tustinian, 
111. 2; III. 5. 


To rendei this trath clearer, let us trace the genea 
logical table of a Roman family. 

L. Cornelius Scipio, died about 250 B. C. 

Fublius Scipio. Cn. Scipio. 

Luc. Scipio Asiaticua. P. Scipio Africanus. P. Scipio Nasica 

I , ! , I 

Luc. Scipio Asiaticus. P. Scipio. Cornelia, P. Scip. Nasica 

I I wife of Sempr. Gracchus. | 

Scipio Asiaticus. Scip. ^milianus. { Scip. Serapio, 

Tib. Sempr. Gracchus. 

In this table, the fifth generation, which lived to 
wards the year 140 B. C, is represented by four per 
sonages. Were they all akin? According to oui 
modern ideas on this subject, they were ; in the opinion 
of the Romans, all were not. Now, let us inquire if 
they all had the same domestic worship; that is tc 
say, if they all made offerings to the same ancestors, 
Let us suppose the third Scipio Asiaticns, who alone 
remains of his bi"anch, offering the funeral repast oq a 
particular day ; ascending from male to male, he finds 
for the third ancestor Publius Scipio. Again, Scipio 
.i^milianus, offeiing his sacrifice, will meet in the series 
of his ascendants this same PubUus Scipio. Scipio 
Asiaticus and Scipio ./Smilianus are, therefore, related to 
each other. Among the Hindus they would be called 
sapindas. On the other hand, Scipio Serapio has foi 
a fourth ancestor L. Cornelius Scipio, who is also the 
fourth ancestor of Scipio jEmiUanus. They are, there- 
fore, akin. Among the Hindus they would be called 
samanodacas. In the judicial and religious language 
of the Romans, these three Scipios are agnates — the 
two first are agnates in the sixth degree, the third U 
their agnate in the eighth degree. 

The case is not the same with Tiberius Gracchus 


This man, who, according to our modern customs, 
■would be nearest related to Scipio ^^railianus, was not 
related to him in the remotest degree. It was of small 
account, indeed, for Tiberius that he was the son of 
Cornelia, the daughter of the Scipios. Neither he nor 
Cornelia herself belonged to that family, in a religious 
point of view. He has no other ancestors than the 
Sempronii; it is to them that he offers the funeral re- 
past ; in ascending the series of liis ancestors he never 
comes to a Scipio. Scipio ^milianns and Tiberius 
Gracchus, therefore, are not agnates. The tie of blood 
does not suffice to establish this relationship ; a com- 
mon worship is necessary. 

We can now understand why, in the eyes of the 
Roman law, two consanguineous brothers were agnates, 
while two uterine brothers were not. Still we cannot 
say that descent by males was the immutable principle 
on which relationship was founded. It was not by 
birth, it was by worship alone, that the agnates were 
recognized. The son whom emancipation had detached 
from the worship was no longer the agnate of his 
father. The stranger who had been adopted, that is 
to say, who had been admitted to the worship, became 
the agnate of the one adopting him, and even of the 
whole family. So true is it that it was religion that 
established relationship. 

There came a time, indeed, for India and Greece, as 
well as for Rome, when relationship of worship was no 
longer the only kind admitted. By degrees, as this old 
religion lost its hold, the voice of blood spoke louder, and 
the relationship of birth was recognized in law. The Ro- 
mans gave the name ofcognatio to this sort of relation- 
ship, which was absolutely independent of the rules 
of the domestic religion. When we read the jurists 


from Cicero to Justinian, we see the two systems as 
rivals of each other, and contending in the domain of 
law. Bat in the time of the Twelve Tables, agnation 
was the only relationship known, and this alone con- 
ferred the right of inheritance. We shall see, farther 
on, that the case was the same among the Greeks 

The Right of Property. 

Heee is an institution of the ancients of which we 
must not form an idea from anything that we see 
around us. The anoients founded the right of property 
on principles different from those of the present gen- 
eration ; as a result, the laws by which they guaranteed 
it are sensibly different from ours. 

We know that there are races who have never snc- 
oeeded in establishing among themselves the right of 
private property, while others have reached this stage 
only after long and painful experience. It is not, 
indeed, an easy problem, in the origin of society, to 
decide whether the individual may appropriate the 
soil, and establish such a bond between his being and 
a portion of the earth, that he can say, This land is 
mine, this is the same as a part of me. The Tartars 
have an idea of the right of property in a case of flocks 
or herds, but they cannot understand it when it is a 
question of land. Among the ancient Germans the 
earth belonged to no one ; every year the tribe assigned 
to each one of its members a lot to cultivate, and the 
lot was changed the foJVowing year. The German was 


proprietor of the harvest, but not of the hind. ' The 
case is still the same among a part of the Semitic race, 
and among some of the Slavic nations. 

On the other hand, the nations of Greece and Italy, 
from the earliest antiquity, always held to the ide.i of 
private property. We do not find an age when the 
soil was common among them; ' nor do we find any- 
thing that resembles the annual allotment of land which 
was in vogue among the Germans. Arid here we note 
a I'einarkable fact. While the races that do not accord 
to the individual a property in the soil, allow, him_ at 
least a right to thefruits of his labor, — that is to say, to 
his harvest, — precisely the contrary custom prevailed 
among the Greeks. In many cities the citizens were ] 
required to store their crops in common, or at least the / 
greater part, and to consume them in common. The/ 
individual, therefore, was not the master of the corn 
which he had gathered; but, at the same time, by, a y 
singular contradiction, he had an absolute property 'in 
the soil. To him the land was more than the harvest. 
It appears that among the Greeks the conception of 
pyiyate property was developed exactly contrary to 
what appears the natural order. It was not applied 
to the harvest first, and to the soil afterwards, but fol- 
lowed the inverse order. 

' Some historians have expressed the opinion that at Kome 
property was at first public, arid did not become private till 
Kuma's reign. This error comes from a false interpretation of 
three passages ofPlutarch (Numa, 16), Cicero (Republic, II. 14), 
and .Bionysius of Halicarnassus (II. 74). These three authors 
Bay, it is true, that Numa distributed lands to the citizens, but 
they indicate very clearly that these lands were conquests of his 
predecessor, agri quos bello Romulus ceperat. As to the Roman 
soil itself — ager Bomanus — it was private property from the 
origin of the city. 


There are three tilings which, from the most ancient 
times, we find founded and solidly established in these 
Greek and Italian societies: the domestic religion; 
the family ; and the right of property — three things 
which had in the beginning a manifest relation, and 
which appear to have been inseparable. The idea of 
private property existed in the religion itself. Every 
family had its hearth and its ancestors. These gods 
could be adored only by this family, and protected it 
alone. They were its property. 

Now, between these gods and the soil, men of the 
early ages saw a mysterious relation. Let us first take 
the hearth. This altar is the symbol of a sedentary 
life ; its name indicates this.' It must be placed upon 
the ground; once established, it cannot be moved. 
The god of the family wishes to have a fixed abode ; 
materially, it is difBcult to transport the stone on 
which he shines ; religiously, this is more difficult still, 
and is permitted to a man only when hard necessity 
presses him, when an enemy is pursuing him, or when 
the soil cannot support him. When they establish 
the hearth, it is with the thought and hope that it 
will always remain in the same spot. The god is 
installed there not for a day, not for the life of one man 
merely, but for as long a time as this family shall en- 
dure, and there remains any one to support its fire by 
sacrifices. Thus the sacred fire takes possession of the 
soil, and makes it its own. . It is the god's property. 
" And the family, which through duty and religion 
remains grouped around its altar, is as much fixed to 
, the soil as the altar itself. The idea of domicile follows 

' 'Earla, "orijiti, stare. See Plutarch, De prima frigido, 21 ; 
Macrob., I. 23 ; Ovid, Fast., VI. 299. 


naturally. The family is attached to the altar, the 
altar is attached to the soil ; an intimate relation, there- 
fore, is established between the spil aud the family. 
There must be his permanent home, which he will not 
dream of quitting, unless an unforeseen necessity con- 
strains him to it. Like the hearth, it will always 
occupy this spot. ' This spot belongs to it, is its prop- 
erty, the property not simply of a man, but of a family, 
whose different members must, one after another, be 
born and die here. 

Let us follow the idea of the ancients. Two sacred 
fires represent two distinct divinities, who are never 
united or confounded ; this is so true, that even inter- 
marriage between two families does not establish an 
alliance between their gods. The sacred fire must be 
isolated — that is to say, completely separated from all 
that is not of itself; the stranger must not approach 
it at the moment when the ceremonies of the worship 
are performed, or even be in sight of it. It is for this 
reason that these gods are called the concealed gods, 
/ui!/(ot, or the interior gods, Penates, In order that 
this religious rule may be well observed, there must be 
an enclosure around this hearth at a certain distance. 
It did not matter whether this enclosure was a hedge, 
a wall of wood, or one of stone. Whatever it was, it 
marked the limit which separated the domain of one 
sacred fire from that of another. This enclosure was 
deemed sacred.' It was an impious act to pass it. 
The god watched over it, and kept it under his care. 
They, therefore, applied to this god the epithet of 
^gxiios.' This enclosure, traced and protected by re- 

' 'Eqxoe [eqov. Sophocles, Traehin., 606. 
' At an epoch when this ancient worship was almost eflFaced 
by the younger religion of Zeus, and when they associated him 


ligion, was the most certain emblem, the most un- 
doubted mark of the right of property. 

Let us return to the primitive ages of the Aryan 
race. The sacred enclosure, which the Greeks call 
e§Koc^ and the Latins herctum, was the somewhat spa- 
cious enclosure in which the family had its house, 
its flocks, and the small field that it cultivated. In 
the midst rose the protecting fire-god. Let us descend 
to the succeeding ages. The tribes have reached 
Greece and Italy, and have built cities. The dwellings' 
are brought nearer together: they are not, however, 
contiguous. The sacred enclosure still exists, but is 
of smaller proportions; oftenest it is reduced to a low 
wall, a ditch, a furrow, or to a mere open space, a few 
feet wide. But in no case could two houses be joined 
to each other ; a party wall was supposed to be an im- 
possible thing. The same wall could not be common 
to two houses; for then the sacred enclosure of the 
gods would have disappeared. At Rome the law fixed 
two feet and a half as the widlh of the free space, 
which was always to separate two houses, and this 
space was consecrated to "the god of the enclosure."' 

A result of these old religious rules was, that a com- 
munity of property was never established among the 

with the fire-god, the new god assumed the title of Ijztro;. It 
is not less true that, in the heginning, the real protector of the 
enclosure was the domestic god. Dionysius of Halicarnassus 
asserts this (I. 68), when he Says that the fltoi tQxiioi are the 
same as the Penates. This follows, moreover, from a compari- 
son of a passage of Pausanias (IV. 17) with a passage of Eu- 
ripides {Troad., 17), and one of Virgil {JEn., II. 514) ; the three 
passages relate to the same fact, and show that Zcif iijxtrog was 
no other than the domestic Sre. 

■ ' Festus, V. Ambitus. Varro, L. L., V. 22. Servius, ad 
^n., II. 469. 


aneients. A phalansteiy was never known among 
them. Even Pytbaigoraa did not succeed in establish- 
ing institutions which the most intimate religion of 
men resisted. Neither do we find, at any epoch in 
the life of the ancients, anything that resembled that 
multitade of villages so general in France during the 
twelfth century. Every family, having its gods and 
its worship, was required to have its particular p'ace 
on the soil, its isolated domicile, its property. 

According to the Greeks,, the sacred fire taught mon 
to build houses; ' and, indeed, men who were fixed by 
their religion to one spot, which they believed it their 
duty not to quit, would soon begin to think of raising 
in that place some solid structui-e. The tent covers 
the Arab, the wagon the Tartar; but a family that has 
a domestic hearth has need of a permanent dwelling; 
The stone house soon succeeds the mud cabin or the 
wooden hut. The family did not build for the life of a 
single man, but for generations that were to succeed 
each other in the same dwelling. 

The house was always placed in the sacred en- 
closure. Among the Greeks^ the square which com- 
posed the enclosure was divided into two parts ; the 
first part was the court ;, the house occupied the sec- 
ond. The hearth, plaxjed near the middle of the whole 
enclosure, was thus at the bottom of the court, and 
near the entrance of the house. At Rome the dispo- 
sition was diflferent, but the principle was the snme. 
The hearth remained. in the middle of the enclosure, 
but the buildings rose round it. on .four sides, so as to 
enclose it within a little court. 

We can easily understand the idea thp,t inspired tliis 

' Diodorjis, V. 68. 


system of construction. The walls are raised aroum 
the hearth to isolate and defend it, and we may saj 
as the Greeks said, that religion taught men to buiL 
houses. In this house the family is master and pro 
l^rietor ; its domestic divinity assures it this righl 
The house is consecrated by the perpetual presena 
of gods ; it is a temple which preserves them. 

"What is there more holy," says Cicero, "what ii 
there more carefully fenced round with every descrip 
tion of religious respect, than the house of each indi 
vidual citizen ? Here is his altar, here is his hearth 
here are his household gods ; here all his sacred rights 
all his religious ceremonies, are preserved." ' To entei 
this house with any malevolent intention was a sacri- 
lege. The domicile was inviolable. According to a 
Roman tradition, the domestic god repulsed the robber, 
and kept off the enemy.^ 

Let us pass to another object of worship — the tomb: 
and we shall see that the same ideas were attached to 
this. The tomb held a very important place in the 
religion of the ancients ; for, on one hand, worship was 
due to the ancestors, and on the other, the principal 
ceremony of this worship — the funeral repast — was to 
be performed on the very spot where the ancestors 
rested.' The family, therefore, had a common tomb, 
where its members, one after another, must come to 
sleep. For this tomb the rule was the same as for 
the hearth. It was no more permitted to unite two 
families in the same tomb than it was to establish two 
domestic hearths in the same house. To bury one out 

' Cicero, Pro Domo, 41. 

' Ovid, Fast., V. 141. 

' Such, at least, was the ancient rule, since they believed that 
the funeral repast served as food for the dead. Eurip., Ti oad., 


of the family tomb, or to place a stranger in thia tomb, 
was equally impious.'. The domiistic religion, both 
in life and in death, separated every family from all 
others, and strictly rejected all appeai"ance of com- 
munity. Just as the houses could not be contiguous, 
so the tombs could not touch each other ; each one of 
them, like the house, had a sort of isolating enclosure. 

How manifest is the character of private property in 
all this ! The dead are gods, who belong to a particular 
family, which alone has a right to invoke them. These 
gods have taken possession of the soil ; they live under 
this little mound, and no one, except one of the family, 
can think of meddling with them. Furthermore, no 
one has the right to dispossess them of the soil which 
they occupy; a tomb among the ancients could never 
be destroyed or displaced ; '' this was forbidden by the 
severest laws. Here, therefore, was a portion of the 
soil which, in the name of religion, became an object 
of perpetual property for each family. The family ap- 
propriated to itself this soil by placing its dead here ; 
it was established here for all time. Th*^ living scion 
of this family could rightly say. This land is mine. It 
was so completely his, that it was inseparable from 
him, and he had not the right to dispose of it. The 
soil where the dead rested was inalienable and impre- 

' Cicero, De Legib., 11.22; II. 26. Gains, Instit.,ll. 6. 
Digest, XLVII., tit. 12. We must note that the slave and the 
client, as we shall see, farther on were a part of the family, and 
were buried in the common tomb. The rule which prescribed 
that every man should be buried in the tomb of his family, ad- 
mitted of an exception in the case where the city itself granted 
a public funeral. 

* Lycurgus, against Leocrates, 25. At Rome, before a burial- 
place could be changed, the permission of the pontiffs was 
required. Pliny, Letters, X. 73. 


seriptible. The Roman law requLce^ that, if a family 
soldthe field where the tomb was situated, it should still 
retain the ownership of this tomb, and should always 
preserve the right to cross the field, in order to per- 
form the ceremonies of its worship.' 

The ancient usage was to inter the dead, not in 
cemeteries or by the road-side, but in the field belong- 
ing to the family. This custom of ancient times is 
attested by a law of Solon,, and by several passages in 
Plutarch. We learn from an oration of Demosthenes^ 
that even in bis time, each family buried its dead in 
its own field, and that when a domain was bougbt in 
Attica, the burial-place of the old proprietors was found 
there.'' As for Italy, this same cuptom is proved to 
have existed by the laws of the Twelve Tables, by 
passages from two jurisconsults, and by this sentence 
of Siculns Flaccus: "Anciently theije were two ways 
of placing the tomb; some placed It on oiie side pf the 
field, others towards the middle."' 

Prom this custom we can see that the idep, of prop- 
erty was easily extended froin th,e small mound to the 
field that surrounded this mound. In the w:orl^3 of 
the elder Cato there is a formula according to which the 
Italian laborer prayed the manes to watch oyer his 
field, to take good > care against the thief^ and to bless 
him with a good harvest. Thus these souls of the dead 
extended tutelary action, and with it their right of prop- 
erty, even to the boundaries of the domain. Through 

' Cicero, De Legib., II./24. Digest, XVIII. tit. 1. 6. 

' Laws of Solon, cited by Gaius in Digest, X. tit. 1. 13. De- 
mosthenes, against Oallicles. Plutarch, Aristides, 1. 

' Siculus Flaccus, e^it. Go?z,|(. 4. SeeFragm.terminalia, 
edit. Goez, p. 147. Pomponius,' in D,ig,^t, XLVII. tit. 12. 5 
Paul, in Digest, VIII. 1, 14. 


thiem the family was sole master in this field. The 
tomb had established an indissoluble union of the fam- 
yiy with tlie laiid ^^ that of ownership. 
^ In the gi'eater number of ptimitiV6 societies the right 
of property was established by religion'. In the Bible, 
the Lord said to Abraham, "I am the Lord, that brought 
thee out of TJr of the Chaldees, to give thee this land, 
to inherit it ; " and to Moses, " Go up hence, . . . into 
the land which I svvare unto Abraham, to Isaac, and 
to Jacob, saying. Unto thee will I give it." 

Thus God, the primitive proprietor, by right of creia- 
tion, delegates to man his ownership ovfer a part of the 
soil.' There was something analogous among the an- 
cient GrfeoD-Italiati' peoples. It was not the religion 
of Jupiter that founded this right, it is true ; pel-haps 
beeause this religion did not yet exist. The gods who 
conferred npon evi^ry family its right to a portion of 
the soil, wei'e the domestic gods, the saci'ed fire, and the 
manes. The first religion that exercised its empire oh 
their minds was also the one that established the right 
of property among them. 

It is clearly evident that private property was an in- 
stitution that the domestic ifeligiOh had need of. This 
Religion required that both dwellings and burying- 
places shoiild be separate from each other; living in 
common was, therefore, impOBsible. The same religion 
required that this hearth should be fixed to the soil, 
that the tomb should neither be destroyed nor dis- 
placed. Suppress the right of property, and the sacred 
five would be wittiotit '■& fixed place, the faiwilies would 

' Same tradition among the Etruscans : " dwwm Jupiter ter- 
rum EirUria sihi iiinditd/eU, constUuit j'ussiique meUri campos 
signarique aQr'Os.'' Auctores Rei AgraricB, in the ifragment en- 
titled Idem Vegoia Arrunti, edit. Goez. 


become confounded, and the dead would be abandonee 
and without worship. By the stationary hearth anc 
the permanent burial-place, the family took possessioi 
of the soil ; the earth was in some sort imbued and pen 
etrated by the religion of the hearth and of ancestors 
Thus the men of the early ages were saved the trouble 
of resolving too difficult a problem. Without discus 
sion, without labor, without a shadow of hesitation 
they anived, at a single step, and merely by virtue of 
their belief, at the conception of the right of property 
this right from which all civilization springs, sinc( 
by it man improves the soil, and becomes improvec 
1<<^ Religion, and not laws, first guaranteed the right ol 
property. Every domain was under the eyes of house 
hold divinities, who watched over it.' Every field hac 
to be surrounded, as we have seen for the house, bj 
an enclosure, which separated it completely from the 
domains of other families. This enclosure was not i 
wall of stone; it was a band of soil, a few feet wide 
which remained uncultivated, and which the plougt 
could never touch. This space was sacred ; the Ro 
man law declared it indefeasible ; ' it belonged t( 
the religion. On certain appointed days of eacl 
month and year, the father of the family went rount 
his field, following this line ; he drove victims before 
him, sang hymns, and offered sacrifices.' By thii 
ceremony he believed he had awakened the benevo 

' Lares agri cusiodeSy TibuUus, I. 1, 23. Religio Larm 
posita in fundi villceqve conspectu. Cicero, JJe Legih., II. 11. 

' Cicero, De Legib., I. 21. 

•* Cato, Be Re Rust., 141. Script. Rei Agrar., edit. Goez, p 
308. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, II. 74. Ovid, Fast., II. 639 
Strabo, "V. 3. 


lence of his gods towards his field and his house ; 
above all, he had marked his right of property by- 
proceeding round his field with his domestic worship. 
The path which the victims and prayers had followed 
was the inviolable limit of the domain. 

On this line, at certain points, the men placed large 
stones or trunks of trees, which they called Termini. 
We can form a good idea as to what these bounds 
were, and what ideas were connected with them, by the 
manner in which the piety of men established them. 
■ " I'his," says Seculus Flaccus, " was the manner in 
which our ancestors proceeded: They conimenced by 
digging a small hole, and placing the Terminus upright 
near it ; next they crowned the Terminus with garlands 
of grasses and flowers ; then they ofiered a sacrifice. 
The victim being immolated, they made the blood flow 
into the hole ; they threw in live coals (kindled, prob- 
bly, at the sacred fire of the hearth), grain, cakes, fruits, 
a little wine, and some honey. When all this was 
consume<l in the hole, they thrust down the stone or 
piece of wood upon the ashes while they were still 
warm." ' It is easy to see that the object of the cere- 
mony was to make of this Terminus a sort of sacred 
representation of the domestic worship. To continue 
this character for it, they renewed the sacred act every 
year, by pouring out libations and reciting prayers, 
The Terminus, once placed in the earth, became in some 
sort the domestic religion implanted in the soil, to in- 
dicate that this soil was forever the property of the 
family. Later, poetry lending its aid, the Terminus 
was considered as a distinct god. 

The employment of Termini, or sacred bounds for 
fields, appears to have been universal among the Indo 

' Siculus Flaccus, edit. Goez, p. 5. 


European race. It existed among the Hindus at a very 
enrly date, and the sacred ceremonies of the boundaries 
had among them a great analogy with those which 
Siculus Flaccus has described for Italy.' Before the 
ionndation of Rome, we find the Terminus among the 
Sabines ; " we also find it among the Etruscans. The 
Hellenes, too, had sacred landmarks, which they called 

Sgo/, 6eoI OQIOI.^ 

The Terminus once established according to the re- 
quired rites, there was no power on earth that could 
displace it. It was to remain in the same place through 
all ages. This religious principle was expressed at 
Rome by a legend : Jupiter, having wished to prepare 
himself a site on tlie Capitoline hill for a temple, could 
not displace the god Terminus. This old tradition 
shows how sacred property had become ; for the im- 
movable Terminus signified nothing less than inviolable 

In fact, the Terminus guarded the limit of the field, 
and watched over it. A neighbor dared not approach 
too near it: "For then," says Ovid, "the god, who felt 
himself struck by the ploughshare, or mattock, cried, 
' Stop : this is my field ; there is yours.' " * To encroach 
upon the field of a family, it was necessary to overturn 
or displace a boundary mark, and this boundary mark 
was a god. The sacrilege was horrible, and the chas- 
tisment severe. According to the old Roman law, 
the man and the oxen who touched a Terminus were 
devoted" — that is to say, both man and oxen were 

' Laws of Manu, VIII. 245. Vrihaepati, cited by Sice, Bindu 
Legislation, p. 159. 
= Varro, L. L., V. 74. 

' Pollux, IX. 9. Hesyehius, ogos. Plato, Laws, p. 842. 
* Ovid, Fast., II. 677. 
° Festus, V. Terminus. 


immolated in expiation. The Etruscan law, speaking 
in the name of religion, says, " He who shall have 
touched or displaced a bound shall be condemned by 
th'e gods; his house shall disappear; his race shall be 
extinguished ; his land shall no longer produce fruits; 
hail, rust, and the fires of the dog-star shall destroy his 
hai"vests ; the limbs of the guilty one shall become 
covered with ulcere, and shall waste away." ' We do 
not pbssess th6 text of the Athenian law on this sub- 
ject ; there remain of it only three words, "which signify, 
"Do not pass the boundaries." But Plato appears to 
complete the thought of the legislator when he says, 
"Our first law ought to be this: Let no person touch 
the bounds which separate his field from that of his \ 
neighbor, for this ought to remain immovable. . . . 
Let no one attempt to disturb the small stone which 
sepalrates friendship from enmity, and which the land- 
owners have bound themselves by an oath to leave in 
Its place."" 

From all these beliefs, from all these usages, from all 
these laws, it clearly follows that the domestic religion 
taught man to appropriate the soil, and assiired him 
his right to it. 

There is no difficulty in understanding that the right 
of property, having been thus conceived and established, 
was much more complete and absolute in its effects 
than it can be in our modern societies, where it is 
founded upon other principles. Property was so in- 
herent in the domestic religion that a family could 
not renounce one without renouncing the other. The 
house and the field were — so to speak -^incorporated 

• Script. Bei Agrar.f ed. Goez, p. 268. 
« Plato, Laws, VIII. p. 842. - 


in it, and it could neither lose them nor dispose of them. 
Plato, in his treatise on the Laws, did not pretend to 
advance a new idea when he forbade the proprietor to 
sell his field ; he did no more than to recall an old law. 
i Everything leads us to believe that in the ancient ages 
property was inalienable. It is well known that at 
Sparta the citizen was formally forbidden to sell his lot 
of land.' There was the same interdiction in the laws 
of Locri and of Leucadia." Pheidon of Corinth, a legis- 
lator of the ninth century B. C, prescribed that the 
number of families and of estates should remain un- 
changeable.' Now, this prescription could be observed 
only when it was forbidden to sell an estate, or even to 
divide it. 

The law of Solon, Later by seven or eight generations 
than that of Pheidon of Corinth, no longer forbade a 
man to sell his land, but punished the vender by a 
severe fine, and the loss of the rights of citizenship." 
Finally, Aristotle mentions, in a general manner, that 
in many cities the ancient laws forbade the sale of 

Such laws ought not to surprise us. Found prop- 
erty on the right of labor, and man may dispose of it. 
Found it on religion, and he can no longer do this; a 
tie stronger than the will of man binds the land to him. 
Besides, this field where the tomb is situated, where the 
divine ancestors live, where the family is forever to 
perform its worship, is not simply the jiroperty of a 
man, but of a family. It is not the individual actually 

' Plutarch, Lycwrg., Agis. Aristotle, Polit., II. 6, 10 (II. 7). 

» Aristotle, Polit., II. 4. 4 (II. 5). 

» Id., Ibid., II. 3, 7. 

* .ffischines, against Timarchus. Diogenes Laertius, I. 65. 

' Aristotle, Polit., VII. 2. 


living who has established his right over this soil, it is 
the domestic god. The individual has it in trust only ; 
it belongs to those who are dead, and to those who are 
yet to be born. It is a part of the body of this family, 
and cannot be separated from it. To detach one from 
the other is to alter a worship, and to offend a religion. 
Among the Hindus, property, also founded upon re- 
ligion, was also inalienable.' 

We know nothing of Roman law previous to the 
laws of the Twelve Tables. It is certain that at that 
time the sale of propei-ty was permitted ; but there are 
reasons for thinking that, in the earlier days of Rome, 
and in Italy before the existence of Rome, land was 
inalienable, as in Greece. Though there remains no 
evidence of this old law, there remain to us at least 
the modifications which were made in it by degrees. 
The law of the Twelve Tables, though attaching to the 
tomb the character of inalienability, has freed the soil 
from it. Afterwards it was permitted to divide prop- 
erty, if there were several brothers, but on condition 
that a new religions ceremony should be performed, 
and that the new partition should be made by a priest ; ' 
religion. only could divide what had before been pro- 
claimed indivisible. Finally, it was permitted to sell 
the domain; but for that formalities of a religious char- 
acter were also necessary. This sale could take place 
only in the presence of a priest, whom they called 
Uk-ipens, and with the sacred formality which they 
called mancipation. Something analogous is seen in 
Greece ; the sale of a house or of land was always ac- 

' Mitakchara, Orianne's trans., p. 50. This rule disappeared 
by degrees after Brahminism became dominant. 

" This priest was called agrimensor. See Seriptores Sei 


oompanied with a sacrifice to the gods.' Every trans- 
fer of property needed to be authorized by reli^on. If 
a man could not, or could only with difficulty, dispose 
of land, for a still stronger reason he could not be 
deprived of it against his will. 

The appropriation of land for public utility was un- 
known among the ancients. Confiscation was resorted 
to only in case of condemnation to exile' — that is to 
say, when a man, deprived of his right to citizenship, 
could no longer exercise any right over the soil of the 
city. Nor was the taking of property for debt known 
in the ancient laws of cities.' The laws of the Twelve 
Tables assuredly do not spar^ the debtor ; still they do 
not permit his jii-operty to be sold for the benefit of the 
creditor. The body Of the debtor is held for the debt, 
not his laud, for the land is inseparable from the family. 
It is easier to subject a man to servitude than to take 
his property from him. The debtor is placed in the 
hands of the creditor ; his land follows him, in some 
sort, into slavery. The master who uses the physical 
strength of a man for his own profit, enjoys at the same 
time the fruits of his land, but does not become the 
pi'oprietor of it. So inviolable aibove all else is the 
right of property.* 

' Stobseus, 42. 

" This rule disappeared in the democratic age of the cities. 

' A law of the Elseans forbade the mortgaging of land. Aris- 
tot., Polit., VII. 2. Mortgages were unknown in ancient Roman 
law. What is said of mortgages in the Athenian law before 
Solon is based on a doubtful passage of Plutarch. 

* In the article of tlie law of the Twelve Tables which relates 
to insolvent debtors, we read, Si volet sua vivHo ; then the debtor, 
having become almost a slave, still retains sometliing for him- 
self; his land, if he has any, is not taken from him. The 
arrangements known in Boman law under the names ot fidu- 



The Itight of Snccession. 

I. IfTatv/re and Principle of the Might of Succession 
among the Ancients. 

The right of :property having been eptablisbed for 
the accomplishment of an hereditary wor6hip,4t , was not 
possible that this right, 8h,puld fail aft^r the sh^rt life of 
an individual. The man dies, the; worship remains; 
the fire must not be extinguished, nor the tomb aban- 
doned. So long as the domestic religion continued, 
the right of property had to continue wi^h it. 

Two things are closely a^ed in the cijeeds as well 
as in the laws pf the ancients -^.tbo family -^porship 
and its property. It w^s therefore a rijle without 
exception, in both Greek, and Roman law, that a prop- 
erty could, not be acquired without the worship, or the 
worship withojit tfee property. "Religion prescribes," 
says Cicero, " tha,t the property apd tb.e- WOPCsMp of a 

cia/ry mancipatipn, a.nd of pignvs, were, before tlje introduction 
of the Servian action, the means employed to insure to the cred- 
itor the payment of the debt; these prove indirectly that the 
seizure of property for debt was not praetieed. Later, when 
they suppressed corppral servitudCj it was necessary. thijt there 
shojild be some ^claipi on the property of a deJJtoji. The 
change was not without diflSculty ; but the distinction which was 
made bet?r^sn properiv m^jpos^essipfi offered a, resource. The 
cre^i^r pbtained pf the praetor tlfp right to sell, not the prop- 
erty, dominium, but the goods of the debtor, bona. Then, only, 
by a disguised seizure, the debtor lost tjie enjoyqieiit of bis 


family shall be inseparable, and that the care of the 
sacrifices shall always devolve upon the one who re- 
ceives the inheritance." ' At Athens an orator claims 
a succession in these terms : " "Weigh it well, O judges, 
and say whether my adversary or I ought to inherit the 
estate of Philootemon, and offer the sacrifices upon his 
tomb." ° Could one say more directly that the care of 
the worship was inseparable from the succession ? It 
was the same in India : "He who inherits, whoever he 
may be, is bound to make the offerings upon the tomb." " 
From this principle were derived all the rules regard- 
ing the right of succession among the ancients. The 
first is that, the domestic religion being, as we have 
seen, hereditary from male to male, property is the 
same. As the son is the natural continuator of the re- 
ligion, he also inherits the estate. Thus the rule of 
inheritance is found; it is not the result of a simple 
agreement made between men ; it is derived from their 
belief, from their religion, from that which has the 
greatest power over their minds. It is not the personal 
will of the father that causes the son to inherit. The 
father need not make a will ; the son inherits of full 
right, — ipso Jure heres exsistit, — says the jurisconsult. 
He is even a necessary successor — heres necessarius.' 
He has neither to accept nor to reject the inheritance. 
Thti continuation of the property, like that of the 
worship, is for him an obligation as well as a right. 
Whether he wishes it or not, the inheritance falls to 
him, whatever it may be, even with its encumbrances 

' Cicero, De Legib., II. 19, 20. Festus, v. Everriator. 
' Isseus, VI. 51. Plato calls the heir SiicSoxog itSv, Laws, 
V. 740. 
' Laws of Maim, IX. 186. 
* Digest, XXXVIU. tit. 16, 14. 


and its debts. The right to inherit without the debts, 
and to reject an inheritance, was not allowed to the 
son in Greek legislation, and was not introduced until 
a later period into Roman law. 

The judicial language of Rome calls the son heres 
suus, as if one should say, Jieres sui ipsius. In fact, 
he inherits only of himself. Between his father and 
him there is neither donation, nor legacy, nor change 
of property. There is simply a continuation — morte 
parentis continuatur dominium. Already, during 
the life of the father, the son was co-proprietor of the 
field and house — vivo quoque patre dominus existi-. 

To form an idea of inheritance among the ancients, 
we must not figure to ourselves a fortune which passes 
from the hands of one to those of another. The for- 
tune is immovable, like the hearth, and the tomb to 
which it is attached. It is the man who passes away. 
It is the man who, as the family unrolls its generations, 
arrives at his hour appointed to continue the worship, 
and to take care of the domain. 

2. The Son, not the Daughter, inherits. 

It is here that ancient laws, at first sight, appear 
whimsical and unjust. "We experience some surprise 
when we see in the Roman law that the daughter does 
not inherit if she is married, and that, according to the 
Greek law, she does not inherit in any case. What 
concerns the collateral branches appears, at first sight, 
still farther removed from nature and justice. This is 
because all these laws flow, according to a very rigor- 

» Institutes, Til. 1, 8; III. 9, 7; III. 19, 2. 


ous logic, from the creed and religion that we bave 
described above. 

~~ The rule for the worship is, that it shall be trans- 
mitted from male to male; the rale for the inheritance 
is, that it shall follow the worship. The daughter is 
not qualified to continue the paternal religion, since 
she may marry, and thus renounce the religion of heir 
father to adopt that of her husband ; she has, there- 
fore, no right to tb© inheritance. If a father should 
happen to leave his. property to a daugbter, this prop- 

\ erty would be separated from the worship, which would 
be inadmissible. The daughter could not even fulfil 
the first duty of an heir, which was to continue the 
series of funeral uepasts; since she would offer the 
sacrifices to the ancestors of her husband. Religion 
forbade her^ therefore, to inberit from her father. 

Such is the ancient principle; it influenced equally 
the legislators of the Hindus and those of Greece and 
Rome. The three peoples had the same laws; not 
that they bad borrowed from each other, but because 
they had derived their laws from the same belief. 

" Afler the death of the father," says the Code of 
Manu, " let the brotljers. divide the patrimony among 
them;" and the legislator adds, that he recommends 
the brothers to endow their sisters, which proves that 
the latter have not of themselves any right to the 
paternal succession^ 

This was the case, too, at Athens. Demosthenes, in 
his, orations, often has occasion to show that daughters 
cannot inherit.' He is himself an example of the 
application of this rule; for he had a sister, and we 

' Demosthenes, in Bceotum. Isseus, X. 4. Lysias, in Man- 
tith., 10. 


know, from his own writings, that he was the sole lieii 
to the estate ; his father had reserved only the seventh 
part to endow the daughter. 

As to Home, the provisions of primitive law which 
excluded the daughters from the inheritance are not 
known to us from any formal and precise text; but 
they have left profound traces in the laws of later ages. 
The Institutes of Justinian still excluded the daughter 
from the number of natural heirs, if she was no longer 
under the power of the father; and she was no longer 
under the power of the father after she had been mar- 
ried according to the religious rites.' iFrom this it 
follows that, if the daughter before marriage could 
share the inheritance with her brother, she had not 
this right after marriage had attached her to another 
religion and another family. And, if this was still the 
case in the time of Justinian, we may suppose that in 
primitive law, this principle was applied in all its rigor, 
and that the daughter not yet married, but who would 
one day marry, had no right to inherit the estate. 
The Institutes also mention the old principle, then 
obsolete, but not forgotten, which prescribed that an 
inheritance always descended to the males.' It was 
clearly as a vestige of this old rule, that, according 
to the civil law, a woman could never be constituted an 
heiress. The farther we ascend from the Institutes of 
Justinian towards earlier times, the nearer we approach 
the rule that woman could not inherit. In Ciceio's 
time, if a father left a son and a daughter, he could will 
to his daughter only one third of his fortune ; if there 
was only a daughter, she could still have but lialf. 
We must also note that, to enable this daughter to 

1 Institutes, II. 9, 2. » Hid., III. 1, 15; III. 2, 3. 



receive a third or half of this patrimony, it was necessary 
that the father should make a will in her favor ; the 
daughter had nothing of full right.' Finally, a century 
and a half before Cicero, Cato, wishing to revive an- 
cient manners, proposed and carried the Voconian 
law, which forbade, — 1. Making a woman an heiress, 
even if she was an only child, married or unmarried, 
2. The willing to a woman of more than a fourth part 
of the patrimony.'' The Voconian law merely renewed 
laws of an earlier date ; for we cannot suppose it would 
have been accepted by the contemporaries of the Scipios 
if it had not been supported upon old principles which 
they still respected. It re-established what time had 
changed. Let us add that it contained nothing regard- 
ing heirship, ab intestat, probably because on this point 
the old law was still in force, and there was nothing 
to repair on the subject. At Rome, as in Greece, the 
primitive law excluded the daughter from the heritage ; 
and this was only a natural and inevitable consequence 
of the principles which religion had established. 

It is true men soon found out a way of reconciling 

the religious prescription which forbade the daughter 

to inherit with the natural sentiment which would have 

her enjoy the fortune of her father. The law decided 

jthat the daughter should marry the heir. 

J- Athenian legislation carried this principle to. its ulti- 

/ mate consequences. If the deceased left a son and 

' a daughter, the son alone inherited and endowed his 

[ sister; if they were not both children of the same 

\ mother, he had his choice to marry her or to endow 

' Cicero, De Rep., III. 7. 

" Cicero, in Verr., I. 42. Livy, XLI. 4. St. Augustine, 
Ciiy of God, III. 21. 


her.' If the deceased left only a daughter, his nearest 
of kind was bis heir; but this relative, who was of 
course also a near relative of the daughter, was required, 
nevertheless, to marry her. More than this, if this 
daughter was already married, she was required to 
abandon her husband in order to marry her father's 
heir. The heir himself might be already mariied ; in 
this case, he obtained a divorce, in order to marry his 
relative." We see here how completely ancient law 
ignored nature to conform to religion. 

The necessity of satisfying the requirements of re- 
ligion, combined with the desire of saving the interests 
of an only daughter, gave rise to another subterfuge. 
On this point Hindu law and Athenian law corre- 
spond marvellously. We read in the Laws of Manu, 
"He who has no male child may require his daughter 
to give him a son, who shall become his, and who may 
perform the funeral ceremonies in his honor." In this 
case the father was required to admonish the husband 
to whom he gave his daughter, by pronouncing this 
formula: "I give you this daughter, adorned with jew- 
els, who has no brother; the son born of her shall be 
my son, and shall celebrate my obsequies." ' The cus- 
tom was the same at "Athens ; the father could continue 

' Demosthenes, ire ^Mi«Z., 21. Fluturcli, Themisi., 32. Isaeus, 
X. 4. Corn. Nepos, Cimon. It must be noted that the law did 
not permit marrying a uterine brother, or an emancipated 
brother ; it could be only a brother by the father's side, because 
ilie latter alone could inherit of the father. 

* Isffius, HI. 64; X. 5. Demosthenes, tre Eubul., 41. The 
only daughter was called in ixiiigos, wrongly translated heiress; 
it signifies the daughter who goes with the inheritance. In fact, 
the daughter was never an heiress. 

' Laws of Manu, IX. 127, 136. Vasishta, XVII. 16. 


his descent through his daughter, by giving her a hus- 
band on this special condition. The son who was bora 
of such a union was reputed the son of the wife's 
father ; followed his worship ; assisted at his religious 
ceremonies ; and, later, guarded his tomb." In Hindu 
law this child inherited fi-ora his grandfather, as if he 
had been his son ; it was exactly the same at Athens. 
When the father had married his daughter in the 
manner we have described, his heir was neither his 
daughter nor his son-in-law; it was the daughter's 
son." As soon as the latter had attained his ma- 
jority, he took possession of the patrimony of his mater- 
nal grandfather, though his father and mother were 
still living." 

This singular tolerance of religion and law confirms 
the rule which we have already pointed out. The 
daughter was not qualified to inherit ; but, by a very 
natural softening of the rigor of this principle, the only 
daughter was considered as an intermediary by whom 
the family might be continued. She did not inherit ; 
but the worship and the inheritance were transmitted 
through her. 

3. Of the Collateral Succession. 

A man died without children ; to know who the heir 
of his estate was, we have only to learn who was qual- 
ified to continue his worship. 

Now, the domestic religion was transmitted by blood 
from male to male. The descent in the male line alone 

' Isseus, VII. 

* He was not cnlled the grandson; they gave him tne par- 
ticular name of 6v/aTqiSavi. 
" I?8Bus, VIII. 81 ; X. 12. Demosthenes, in Steph., II. 20. 


establisned between two men the religious relation 
which permitted one to continue the worship of the 
other. What is called relationship, as we have seen 
above, was nothing more than the expression of this 
relation. One was a relative because he had the same 
worship, the same original sacred fire, the same ances- 
tors. But one was not a relative because he had the 
same mother ; religion did not admit of kinship through 
women. The children of two sisters, or of a sister and 
a brother, had no bond of kinship between them, and 
belonged neither to the same domestic religion nor to 
the same family. 

These principles regulated the order of succession. 
If a man, having lost his son and his daughter, left only 
grandchildren after him, his son's son inherited, but not 
his daughter's son. In default of descendants, he had 
as an heir his brother, not his sister, the son of his 
brother, not the son of his sister. In default of brothers 
and nephews, it was necessary to go up in the series 
of ascendants of the deceased, always in the male line, 
until a branch of the family was found that was de- 
tached through a male ; then to re-descend in this 
branch from male to male, until a living man waa found ; 
this was the heir. 

These rules were in force equally among the Eindus, 
the Greeks, and the Romans. In India "the inherit- 
ance belongs to the nearest sapinda ; in default of a 
sapinda, to the samanodaca." ' Now, we have seen 
that the relationship which these two words expressed 
was the religious relationship, or the relationship 
through the males, and corresponded to the Roman 

Here, again, is the Ipw of Athens: "If a man dies 

' Laws ofManu, IX. 186, 187. 


without children, the heir is the brother of the deceased, 
l^rovided he is a consanguineous brother; in default of 
him, the son of the brother; for the succession always 
passes to the males, and to the descendants of malesr ' 
They still cited this old law in the time of Demosthenes, 
although it had already been modified, and they had 
commenced at this epoch to admit relationship through 

In the same way, the Twelve Tables ordained that, 
if a man died without his heir, the succession belonged 
to the nearest agnate. Now, we have seen that one 
was never an agnate through females. The ancient 
Roman law also specified that the nephew inherited 
from the patruus, — that is to say, from his fathert 
brother, — and did not inherit from the avuiiculus, 
his mother's brother." 

By returning to the table which we have traced of 
the family of the Scipios, it will be seen that, Scipio 
.^milianus, having died without children, his estate 
could not pass either to Cornelia, his aunt, or to C. 
Gracchus, who, according to our modern ideas, was his 
cousin -germ an, but to Scipio Asiaticus, who was really 
his nearest of kin. 

In the time of Justinian, the legislator no longer 
understood these old laws; they appeared unjust to 
him, and he complained of the excessive rigor of the 
laws of the Twelve Tables, " which always accorded 
the preference to the masculine posterity, and excluded 
from the inheritance those who were related to the de- 
ceased only through females." " Unjust laws, if you 
will, for they made no account of natural affection; 

' Demosthenes, in Macart. ; in Leoch. Isseus, VII. 20. 
" Institutes, III. 2, 4. 
» Ibid. III. 3. 


but singularly logical laws, for setting out from iho 
principle that the inheritance was attached to the wor- 
ship, they excliided from the inheritance those whom 
this religion did not authorize to continue the worship. 

4. ^Effects of Emancipation and Adoption. 

We have already seen that emancipation and adop- 
tion produced a change in a man's worship. The first 
sepaviited him from the paternal worship, the second 
initiated him into the religion of another family. Here 
also the ancient law conformed to the rules of religion. 
The son who had been excluded from the paternal 
worship by emancipation was also excluded from tlie 
inheritance. On the other hand, the stranger who had 
been associated in the worship of a family by adoption 
became a son there; he continued its worship, and 
inherited the estate. In both cases ancient law made 
more account of the religious tie than of the tie of 

As it was contrary to religion that one man should 
have two domestic worships, so he could not inherit 
from two families. Besides, the adopted son, who in- 
herited of the adopting family, did not inherit from his 
natural family. Athenian law was very explicit on this 
point. The orations of Attic orators often show us men 
who have been adopted into a family, and who wished 
to inherit in the one in which they were born ; but tlie 
law was against them. The adopted son could not 
inherit from bis own family unless he re-entered it ; he 
could not re-enter it except by renouncing the adopting 
family; and he could leave this latter only on two con- 
ditions: the one was, that he abandoned the patrimony 
of this family ; the other was, that the domestic worship. 


for the continuation of which he had been adopted, did 
not cease by his abandonment ; and, to make this certain, 
it was necessary for him to leave this family a son, who 
should replace him. This son took charge of the wor- 
ship, and iuheiited the estate; the father could then 
return to the family of his birth, and inherit its prop- 
erty. But this father and son conld no longer inherit 
from each other; they were not of the same family, 
they were not of kin.' 

We can easily see what was the idea of the old legis- 
lator when he established these precise rules. He did 
not suppose it .possible that two estates could fall to the 
same heir, because two domestic worships could not be 
kept up by the same person. 

5. Wills were not known oriffinaUy. 

The right of willing — that is to say, of disposing of 
one's property after death, in order to make it pass to 
other than natural heirs — was in opposition to the re- 
ligious creed that was at the foundation of the law of 
property and the law of succession. The property 
being inherent in the worship, and the worship being 
hereditary, could one think of a will ? Besides, prop- 
erty did not belong to the individual, but to the family; 
for m::n had not acquired it by the right of labor, but 
througli the domestic worship. Attached to the family, 
it was transmitted from the dead to the living, not 
according to the will and choice of the dead, but by 
virtue of superior rules which religion had estab- 

' Isaeus, X. Demosthenes, passim. Gains, III. 2. 7n- 
stiiutes, III. 1, 2. It is hardly necessary to state that tliese 
rules were modified in the pretorian laws. 


The will was not known in ancient Hindu law. 
Athenian legislation, np to Solon's time, forbade it 
absolutely, and Solon himself permitted it only to those 
who left no children.' Wills were for a long time 
forbidden or unknown at Sparta, and were authorized 
only after the Peloponnesian war.'' Aristotle speaks 
of a time when the case was the same at Corinth and 
at Thebes.^ It is certain that the power of trans- 
mitting one's property arbitrarily by will was not rec- 
ognized as a natural right ; the constant principle of 
the ancient ages was, that all property should remain 
in the family to which religion had attached it. 

Plato, in his treatise on the Laws, which is largely 
a commentary on the Athenian laws, explains very 
clearly the thought of ancient legislators. He sup- 
poses that a man on his death-bed demands the power 
to make a will, and that he cries, " O gods, is it not very 
hard that I am not able to dispose of my property as I 
may choose, and in favor of any one to whom I please 
to give it, leaving more to this one, less to that one, 
according to the attachment they have shown for me ? " 
But the legislator replies to this man, "Thou who 
canst not promise thyself a single day, thou who art 
only a pilgrim here below, does it belong to thee to 
decide such affairs ? Thou art the master neither of 
thy property nor of thyself: thou and thy estate, all 
these things, belong to thy family ; that is to say, to 
thy ancestors and to thy posterity."* 

For us the ancient laws of Rome are very obscure ; 
they were obscure even to Cicero. What we know 
reaches little farther back than the Twelve Tables, 

' Plutarch, Solon, 21. * Id., Agia, 6. 

' Aristotle, Polit,, II. 3, 4. ' Plato, Ltms, XI. 


which certainly are not the primitive legislation of 
Rome ; and of these only fragments remain. This code 
authorizes the will; yet the fragment relating to the 
subject is too short, and too evidently incomplete to 
enable us to flatter ourselves that we know the exact 
provisions of the Icgislatora in this matter. When they 
granted the power of devising property, we do not know 
what reserve and what conditions they placed upon 
it.' We have no legal text, earlier than the Twelve 
Tables, that either forbids or permits a will ; but the 
language preserved traces of a time when wills were 
not known ; for it called the son the self-successor and 
necessary — heres suus et ne'cessarius. This formu- 
la, which Gaius and Justinian still employed, but which 
was no longer in accord with the legislation of their 
time, came, without doubt, from a distant epoch, when 
the son could not be disinherited or refuse the heritages 
The father had not then the free disposition of his 
fortune. In default of sons, and if the deceased had 
only collateral relatives, the will was not absolutely un- 
known, but was not easily made valid. Important for- 
malities were necessary. First, secrecy was not allowed 
to the testator during life ; the man who disinherited 
his family, and violated the law that religion had estab- 
lished, had to do this publicly, in broad daylight, and 
take upon himself, during his lifetime, all the odium 
attached to such an act. This was not all ; it was also 
necessary that the will of the testator should receive 
the approbation of the sovereign authority — that is to 
say, of the people assembled by curies, under the presi- 

' Uti legassit. Ha jus esto. If we had of Solon's law only 
the words Siu6ta&ai onoiq uv i6iXii, we should also suppose that the 
will was permitted in all possible cases ; but the law adds, u 


dency of the pontiff.' We must not imagine that this 
was an empty formality, particularly in the early ages. 
These comitia by curies were the most solemn assem- 
blies of the Roman city; and it woiild be puerile to 
say that they convoked the people under the presidency. 
of the religious chief, to act simply as witnesses at the 
reading of a will. We may suppose that the people 
voted, and we shall see, on reflection, that this was 
absolutely necessary. There was, in fact, a general 
law which regulated the order of succession in a rigor- 
ous manner; to modify this order in any particular, 
another law was necessary. This exceptional law was 
the will. The right of a man to devise by will was not, 
therefore, fully accorded, and could not be, so long as 
this society remained under the empire of the old re- 
ligion. In the belief of these ancient ages, the living 
man was only the representative, for a few years, of a 
constant and immortal being — the family. He held 
the worship and the property only in trust ; his right 
to them ceased with his life. 

6. The Right of Primogeniture. 

We must transport ourselves beyond the time of 
which history has preserved the recollection, to those 
distant ages during which domestic institutions were 
established, and i^ocial institutions were prepared. Of 
this epoch there does not remain, nor can there remain, 
any written monument ; but the laws which then gov- 
erned men have left some traces in the legislation of 
succeeding times. 

' XJlpian, XX. 2. Gaius, I. 102, 119. Aulus Gellius, XV. 27. 
The testament calatis comitiis was doubtless tlie oldest in use. 
It was no longer known in Cicero's time. (Z>e Orat., I. 63.) 

108 THE TAinLY. BOOK It 

In these distant days we distinguish one institution 
which must have survived a long time, which had a 
considevahle influence upon the future constitution of 
societies, and without which this constitution could not 
be explained. This is the right of primogeniture. 

The old religion established a difference between the 
older and the younger son. ''The oldest," said the 
ancient Aiyas, " was begotten for the accomplishment 
of the duty due the ancestors ; the others are the fniit 
of love," In virtue of this original superiority, the 
oldest had the privilege, after the death of the father, 
of presiding at all the ceremonies of the domestic wor- 
ship; he it was who offered the funeral repast, and 
pronounced the formulas of prayer; "for the right of 
pronouncing the prayers belongs to that son who came 
into the world first." The oldest was, therefore, heir 
to the hymns, the continuator of the worship, the 
religious chief of the family. From this creed flowed a 
rule of law : the oldest alone inherited projjerty. Thus 
says an ancient passage, which the last editor of the 
Laws of Manu still inserted in the code : " The oldest 
takes possession of the whole patrimony, and the other 
brothers live under his authority as if they were under 
that of their father. The oldest son performs the 
duties towards the ancestors ; he ought, therefore, to 
have all." ' 

Greek law is derived from the same religious beliefs 
as Hindu law ; it is not astonishing, then, to find here 
also the right of primogeniture. Spai-ta preserved it 
longer than other Greek cities, because the Spai-tans 

' Laws of Manu, IX. lOS-107, 126. This ancient rule was 
modified as the old religion became enfeebled. Even in the 
code of Manu we find articles that authorize a division of the 


were longer faithful to old institutions ; among them 
the patrimony was indivisible, and the younger brothers 
had no part of it.' It was the same with many of the 
ancient codes that Aristotle had studied. He infoi-ms 
us, indeed, that the Theban code prescribed absolutely 
that the number of lots of land should remain un- 
changeable,, which certainly excluded the division 
among brothers. An ancient law of Corinth also pro- 
vided that the number of families should remain in- 
variable, which could only be the case where the right 
of the oldest prevented families from becoming dis- 
membered in each generation.' 

Among the Athenians we need not expect to find 
this old institution in full vigor in the time of De- 
mosthenes; but there still existed at this epoch what 
they called the privilege of the elder.' It consisted in 
retaining, above his proportion, the paternal dwelling — 
an advantage which was materially considerable, and 
which was still more considerable in a religions point 
of view; for the paternal house contained the ancient 
hearth of the family. While the younger sons, in the 
time of Demosthenes, left home to light new fires, the 
oldest, the true heir, remained in possession of the pa- 
ternal hearth and of the tomb of his ancestors. He alone 
also preserved the family name.* These were the ves- 
tiges of a time when he alone received the patrimony. 

We may remark, that the inequality of the law of 
primogeniture, besides the fact that it did not strike 
the'minds of the ancients, over whom religion was all- 

■ Fragments of the Greek Historians, Didot's Coll., t. IL 
p. 211. 
' .Aristotle, Polit., II. 9 ; II. 3. 
" JI(it(!fieia, Demosthenes, Pro Phorm.. 34. 
* Demosthenes, in Boeot. de nomine. 


powerful, was corrected by several of their customs. 
Sometimes the younger son was adopted into a family; 
and inherited property there ; sometimes he married 
an only daughter; sometimes, in fine, he received some 
extinct family's lot of land. When all these resources 
failed, younger sons were sent out to join a colony. 

As to Rome, we find no law that relates to the 
right of primogeniture; but we are not to conclude 
from this that the right was unknown in ancient Italy. 
It might have disappeared, and even its traces have 
been efiaced. What leads us to believe that before the 
ages known to us it was in force is, that the existence 
of the Roman and Sabine gens cannot be explained 
without it. How could a family reach the number of 
several thousand free persons, like the Claudian family, 
or several hundred combatants, all patricians, like the 
Fabian family, if the right of primogeniture had not 
maintained its unity during a long series of generations, 
and had not increased its numbers from age to age by 
preventing its dismemberment ? This ancient right of 
primogeniture is proved by its consequences, and, so to 
speak, by its works.' 

' The old Latin language, moreover, has preserved a vestige 
■which, feeble as it is, deserves to be pointed out. A lot of land, 
the domain of a family, was called sors ; sors patrimonium sig- 
nificat, says Festus. The word consortes was -applied then to 
those who had among them only a single lot of land, and lived 
on the same domain. Now, the old language designated by this 
word brothers, and even those quite distantly related. This 
bears witness to a time when the patrimony and the family were 
indivisible. (Festus, v. Sors. Cicero, in Verrem, II. 323. 
Livy, XLI. 27. Velleius, I. 10. Lucretius, III. 772; VL 



Authority in the Family. 

1. TTie Principle and Nature of the Paternal Power 
among the Ancients. 

The family did not receive ita laws fi-om the city. 
If the city had established private law, that law would 
probably have been different from what we have seen. 
It would have established the right of property and the 
right of succession on different principles ; for it was 
not for the interest of the city that land should be in- 
alienable and the patrimony indivisible. The law that 
permitted a father to sell or even to kill his son — a law 
that we find both in Greece and in Rome — was not 
established by a city. The city would rather have said 
to the father, " Tour wife's and your son's life does not 
belong to you any more than their liberty does. I will 
protect them, even against you; you are not the one 
to judge them, or to kill them, if they have committed 
a crime ; I will be their judge." If the city did not 
Bjieak thus, it is evident that it could not. Private 
law existed before the city. When the city began to 
write its laws, it found this law already established, 
living, rooted in the customs, strong by universal ob- 
servance. The city accepted it, because it could not do 
otherwise, and dared not modify it, except by degrees. 
Ancient law was not the work of a legislator; it was, 
on the contrary, imposed upon the legislator. It had 
its birth in the family. It sprang up spontaneously 
from the ancient principles which gave it root. It 
flowed from the religious belief which was universally 


admitted in the primitive age of these peoples, which 
exercised its empire over their intelligence and their 

A family was composed of a father, a mother, chil- 
dren, and slaves. This group, small as it was, required 
discipline. To whom, then, belonged the chief author- 
ity? To the father? No. There is in every house 
something that is above the father himself. It is the 
domestic religion ; it is that god whom the Greeks 
called the hearth-master, — kana dianoiva, — whom the 
Romans called ILar familiaris. This divinity of the 
interior, or, what amounts to the same thing, the belief 
that is in the human soul, is the least doubtful author- 
ity. This is what fixed rank in the family. 

The father ranks first in presence of the sacred fire. 
He lights it, and supports it ; he is its priest. In all 
religious acts his functions are the highest; he slays 
the victim, his mouth pronounces the formula of prayer 
which is to draw upon him and his the protection of 
the gods. The family and the worship are perpetuated 
through him ; he represents, himself alone, the whole 
series of ancestors, and from him are to proceed the 
entire series of descendants. Upon him rests the do- 
mestic worship ; he can almost say, like the Hindu, "I 
am the god." When death shall come, he will be a 
divine being whom his descendants will invoke. 

This religion did not place woman in so high a rank. 
The wife takes part in the religious acts, indeed, but 
she is not the mistress of the hearth. She does not 
derive her religion from her birth. She was initiated 
into it at her marriage. She has learned from her 
husband the prayer that she pronounces. She does 
not represent the ancestors, since she is not descended 
from them. She herself will not become an ancestor; 


placed in the tomb, she will not receive a special wor- 
ship. In death, as in life, she counts only as a part of 
her husbasd. 

Greek law, Roman law, and Hindu law, all derived 
from this old religion, agi'ee in considering the wife as 
always a minoT. She could never have a hearth of her 
own ; she was never the chief of a worship. At Rome 
she received the title of mater familias ; but she lost 
this if her husband died.' Never having a sacred fire 
which belonged to her, she had nothing of what gave 
authority in the house. She never commanded ; she 
was never even free, or mistress of herself. She was 
always near the hearth of another, repeating the prayer 
of another ; for all the acts of religious life she needed 
a superior, and for all the acts of civil life a guardian. 

The Laws of Menu say, "Woman, during her in- 
iancy, depend* upon her father ; during her youth, upon 
her husband ; when her husband is dead, upon her sons ; 
if she has no son, on the nearest relative of her hus- 
band ; for a woman ought never to govern herself 
according to her own will."' The Greek laws and- 
those of Rome are to the same effect. As a girl, she 
is under her father's control ; if her &ther dies, she is 
governed by her Iwothers.; married,, she is under thei 
guardianship of her husband; if tlie husband dies, 
she does not return to her own family, for she has re- 
nounced that forever by the sacred maraage;' the 
widow remains, subject. to the goardianship of her hus- 
band's agnates — that is to say, of her own sons, if she 

' Festus, V. Mater famiUis. 
« Laws ofManu, V. 147, 148 

' She returned only in case of divorce. Demosthenes, in 
Eubulid., 41. 




has any, or, in default of sons, of the nearest kin- 
dred.' So complete is her husband's authority over 
her, that lie can, upou his death, designate a guardian 
for her, and even chooseher a second htisband.' 

To indicate the power of the husband over the wife, 
the Romans had a very ancient expression, which their 
jurisconsults have preserved ; it is the word mames. 
It is not easy to discover the primitive sense of this 
word, The commentators make it the expression of 
material force, as if the wife was placed under the 
brutal hand of the husband. It is quite probable that 
this is wrong. The power of the husband over the 
wife results in no wise from his superior strength. It 
came, like all private law, from the religious belief that 
placed man above woman. What proves this is, that a 
woman who had not been married according to the 
sacred rites, and who, consequently, had not been as- 
sociated in the worship, was not subject to the marital 
povver.^ It was marriage which created this subordi- 
nation, and at the same time the dignity of the wife. 
So true is it that the right of the strongest did not 
constitute the family. 

Let us pass to the infant. Here nature speaks for 
itself, loud enough. It demands that the infant shall 
have a protector, a guide, a master. This religion is in 
accord with nature; it says that the father shall be the 

' Demosthenes, ire Siepfe., II. ; in Aphob. Fl\ita.vch, Tfiemist., 
82. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, II. 25. Gaius, I. 149, 155. 
Aulus Gellius., III. 2. Macrobius, I. 3. 

' Demosthenes, in Aphobum; pro Phormione. 

' Cicero, Topic, 14. Tacitus, Ann., IV. 16. Aulus Gellius, 
XVIII. G. It will be seen farther on, that, at a certain epoch, 
new modes of marriage were instituted, ar.d that they had the 
same legal effects as the sacred marriage. 


chief of the worship, and that the son shall merely aid 
him in his sacred functions. But nature requires thia 
subordination only during a certain number of years ; 
religion requires more. Nature brings the son to his 
majority; religion does not grant it to him, according 
to ancient principles ; the sacred fire is indivisible, and 
the same is true of property. The brothers do not 
separate at the death of their father ; for a still stronger 
reason they could not separate from him during his 
life. In the rigor of primitive law, the sons remained 
attached to the father's hearth, and, consequently, 
subject to his authority; while he lived they were 

We may suppose that this rule lasted only so long as 
the old domestic religion remained in full vigor. This 
unlimited subjection of the son to the father disap- 
peared at an early day at Athens. It subsisted longer 
at Sparta, where a patrimony was always indivisible. 
At Rome the old rule was scrupulously observed ; a 
son could never establish a separate hearth during his 
father's life; married even, and the father of children, 
he was still under parental authority.' 

Besides, it was the same with the paternal as with 
the marital authority; its principle and condition were 
the domestic worship. A son born of concubinage was 
not placed under the authority of the father. Between 
his father and himself there existed no community of 
religion ; there was nothing, therefore, that conferred 

' When Gaiua said of the paternal power, Jus proprium est 
eivium Romanorum, we must understand that in his time the 
Roman law recognized this power only in the Roman citizen : 
this does not mean that the power had not existed before in other 
places, or that it had not been recognized by the law of other 


authority upon the one and commanded obedience 
of the other. Paternity, of itself, gave the father no 

Thanlcs to the domestic religion, the family was a 
email organized body; a little society, which had its 
chief and its government. Nothing in modern society 
can give us an idea of this paternal authorityi In prim- 
itive antiquity the father is not alone the strong man, 
the protector who has power to command obedience; 
he is the priest, he is heir t6 the hearth, the continuator 
of the ancestors, the parent stock of the descendants, the 
depositary of the mysterious rites of the worship, and 
of the sacied formulas of prayer. The whole religion 
resides in hira. 

The by which he is called — pater — con- 
tains in itself some curious information. The word is 
the same in Greek, in Latin, and in Sanskrit; from 
which we may conclude that this word dates from a 
time when the Hellenes, the Italians, and the Hindus 
still lived together in Central Asia. What was its 
signification, and what idea did it then present to the 
minds of men? We can discover this; for the word 
has preserved its primary signification in the foi'mulas 
of religious language and in those of judicial language. 
When the ancients, invoking Jupiter, called him pater 
hominum deorumque, they did not intend to say that 
Jupiter was the father of gods and men, for they never 
considered him as such ; they believed, on the contrary, 
that the hnman race existed before him. The same 
title oi pater was given to Neptune, to Apollo, to Bac- 
chus, to Vulcan, and to Pluto. These, assuredly, men 
never considered as their fathers ; so, too, the title of 
.mater was applied to Minerva, Diana, and Vesta, who 
were reputed three virgin goddesses. In judicial Ian- 


guage, moreover, the title of pater, or pater familias, 
might be given to a man who had no children, who was 
not married, and who was not even of age to contract 
marriage. The idea of paternity, therefore, was not 
attached to this word. The old language had another 
word which properly designated the father, and which, 
as ancient as pater, is likewise found in the language 
of the Greeks, of the Romans, and of the Hindus 
(ffdnitar, yewriTi/iQ, geniter). The word pater liad an- 
other sense. In religious language they applied it to 
the gods'; in legal language to every man who had a 
Avorship and a domain. The poets show us that they 
applied it to every one whom they wished to honor. 
The slave and the client applied it to their master. It 
was synonymous with the words rex, &vu^, ^uadsig. 
It contained in itself not the idea of paternity, but that 
of power, authority, majestic dignity. 

That such a word should have been applied to the 
father of a family until it became his most common 
appellation, is assuredly a very significant fact, and one 
whose importance will appear to all who wish to under- 
stand ancient institutions. The history of this word 
suffices to give us an idea of the power which the father 
exelieised for a long time in the family, and of the senti- 
ment of veneration which was due him as a pontiff and 
a sovereign. 

2. Mrmmeration of the Hights that composed Pater- 
nal Power, 

Greek and Roman laws recognized in the father this 
unlimited power with which religion had at first clothed 
him. The numerous and diverse rights which these 
laws conferred upon him may be divided into three 


classes, according as we consider the father of a family 
as a religious chief, as the master of the property, or 
as a judge. 

I. The father is the supreme chief of the domestic 
religion ; he regulates all the ceremonies of the wor- 
ship, as he understands them, or, rather, as he has seen 
his father perform them. No one contests his sacer- 
dotal supremacy. The city itself and its pontiffs can 
change nothing in his worship. As priest of the hearth 
he recognizes no superior. 

As religious chief, he is responsible for the perpetuity 
of the worship, and, consequently, for that of the fam- 
ily. Whatever affects this perpetuity, which is his firet 
care and his first duty, depends upon him alone. From 
this flows A whole series of rights: — 

The right to recognize the child at its birth, or to 
reject it. This right is attributed to the father by the 
Greek laws,' as well as by those of Rome. Barbarous 
as this is, it is not contrary to the principles on which 
the family is founded. Even uncontested filiation is 
not sufKcient to admit one into the sacred circle of the 
family ; the consent of its chief, and an initiation into 
its woi'ship, are necessaiy. So long as the child is not 
associated in the domestic religion, he is nothing to 
the father. 

The right to repudiate the wife, either in case of 
sterility, because the family must not become extinct, 
or in case of adultery, because the family and the de- 
scendants ought to be free from all debasement. 

The right to give his daughter in marriage — that is 
to say, to cede to another the power which he has over 
her. The right of marrying his son ; the marriage of 
the son concerns the perpetuity of the family. 

' Herodotus, I. 69. Plutarch, Alcib., 23 ; Agesilaus, 3. 


The right to emancipate^ that is to say, to exclude 
a son from the family and the worshij). The liglit to 
adopt — that is to say, to introduce a stranger to the 
domestic hearth. 

The right, at his death, of naming a guardian for bis 
wife and children. 

It is necessary to remark that all these rights be- 
longed to the father alone, to the exclusion of all the 
other members of the family. The wife had not tlie 
right of divorce, at least in primitive times. Even when 
a widow, she could neither emancipate nor adopt. She 
was never the guardian even of her own children. In 
case of divorce, the children remained with the father, 
— even the daughters. Her children were never in her 
power. Her consent was not asked for the marriage 
of her own daughter.' __ 

II. We have seen above that property was not 
understood, originally, as an individual right, but as a 
family right; The fortune, as Plato says, formally, and 
as all the ancient legislators say, implicitly, belongs to 
the ancestors and the descendants. This property, by 
its very nature, could not be divided. There could be 
in each family but one proprietor, which was the family 
itself, and only one to enjoy the use of property — the 
father. This principle explains several peculiarities of 
ancient law. 

The property not being capable of division, and rest- 
ing entirely on the head of the father, neither wife nor 
children had the least part in it. The dotal system, 
and even the community of goods, were then unknown. 
The dowry of the wife belonged, without reserve, to 
the husband, who exercised over her dowry not only 

' Demosthenes, in Euhul., 40 and 43. Gaius, I. 165. Ulpian, 
VIII. 8. Institutes, I. 9. Digest, I. tit. 1, 11. 


the rights of an administrator, but of an owner. What- 
ever the wife might have acquired during her maniage 
fell into the hands of her husband. She did not even 
recover her dower on becoming a widow.' 

The son was in the same condition as the wife ; he 
owned nothing. No donation made by him was valid, 
since he had nothing of his own. He could acquire 
nothing; the fruits of his laboi', the profits of his trade, 
were his father's. If a will was made in his favor by a 
stranger, his father, not himself, received the legacy. 
This explains th*) provision of the Roman law which 
forbade all contracts of sale between father and son. If 
the father sold to the son, he sold to himself^ as the 
son acquired only for the father." 

We see in the Roman laws, and we find also in the 
laws of Athens, that a father could sell his son.' This 
was because t'je father might dispose of all the prop- 
erty of the family, and the son might be looked upon as 
pi-operty, since his labor was a source of income. The 
father might, therefore, according to choice, keep this 
instrument of labor, or resign it to another. To resign 
it was called selling the son. The texts of the Roman 
law that we have do not inform us clearly as to the 
nature of this contract of sale, nor on the reservations 
that might have been contained in it. It appeare cer- 
tahi ili^.t tlie son thus sold did not become the slave of 
tlie purchaser. His liberty was not sold ; only his labor. 

' Gains, II. 98. All these rules of primitive law were modi- 
fied by the pretorian law. 

= Cicero, De Legib., 11. 20. Gaius, II. 87. Digest, XTIII. 
lit. 1, 2. 

'■> Plutarch, Solon, 13. Dionys. of Halic, II. 26. Gaius, I. 
117; I. 132; IV. 79. Ulpian, X, 1. Livy, XLI. 8. Festus, t. 

cra,iP. Tin. authoeity in the family. 121 

Even in this state the son remained subject to the 
paternal authority, which proves that he was not con- 
sidered to have left the family. We may suppose that 
this sale had no other effect than to cede the possession 
of the son for a time by a sort of contract to hire. 
Later it was employed only as an indirect means of 
emancipating the sou. 

III. Plutarch informs us that at Rome women could 
not appear in court even as witnesses.' We read in 
the jurisconsult Gaius, " It should be known that noth- 
ing can be granted in the way of justice to persons 
under power — that is to say, to wives, sons, and 
slaves. For it is reasonably concluded that, since 
these persons can own no property, neither can they 
reclaim anything in point of justice. If a son, sub- 
ject to his father's will, has committed a crime, the 
action lies against the father; nor has the father him- 
self any action against his son." ' 

From all this it is clear that the wife and the son 
could not be plaintiffs or defendants, or accusers, or 
accused, or witnesses. Of all the family the father 
alone could appear before the tribunal of the city; 
public justice existed only for him ; and he alone was 
responsible for the crimes committed by his family. 

Justice for wife and son was not in the city, because 
it was in the house. The chief of the family was their 
judge, placed upon a judgment seat in virtue of liis 
marital and parental authority, in the name of the fam- 
ily and under the eyes of the domestic divinities." 

' Plutarch, PubKcola, 8. ' Gains, II. 96 ; IV. 77, 78. 

' There came a time when this jurisdiction was modified ; the 
lather consulted the whole family, and formed it into a tribunal, 
over which he presided. Tacit., XIII. 32. Digest, XXIII. tit. 
1, 5. Plato, Laws, IX. 


Livy relates that the senate, wishing to extirpate 
the worship of Bacchus from Rome, decreed the pun- 
ishment of death against all who had taken part in it. 
The decree was easily executed upon the citizens, but 
when it came to the women, who were not the least 
guilty, a grave difficulty presented itself; the women 
were not answerable to the state; the family alone had 
the right to judge them. The senate respected this 
old principle, and left to the fathers and husbands the 
duty of pronouncing the sentence of death against the 

This judicial authority, which the chief of the family 
exercised in his house, was complete and without a2}peal. 
He could condemn to death like the magistrate in the 
city, and no authority could modify his sentence. " The 
husband," says Cato the Elder, "is the judge of his 
wife ; his power has no limit ; he can do what he 
wishes. If she has committed a fault, he punishes her; 
if she has drank wine, he condemns her; if she has 
been guilty of adultery, he kills her." The right was 
the same in regard to children. Valerius Maximus 
cites a certain Atilius who killed his daughter as guilty 
of unchastity, and everybody will recall the father who 
put his son, an accomplice of Catiline, to death. 

Facts of this nature are numerous in Homan history. 
It would be a false idea to suppose that the father had 
an absolute right to kill his wife and children. He 
was their judge. If he put them to death, it was only 
by virtue of his right as judge. As the father of the 
family was alone subject to the judgment of the city, 
the wife and the son could have no other judge than 
him. Within his family he was the only magistrate. 

We must also remark that the paternal authority 
was not an arbitrary power, like that which would be 


derived from the right of the strongest. It had its 
foundation iu a belief which all shared alike, and it 
found its limits in this same belief For example : the 
father had the right to exclude his son from the fam- 
ily ; but he well knew that if he did this the family ran 
a risk of becoming extinct, and the manes of his .ances- 
tors of falling into eternal oblivion. He had the right 
to adopt a stranger ; but religion forbade him to do 
this if ha had a son. He was sole proprietor of the 
goods ; but he had not, at least originally, a right to 
alienate them. He could repudiate his wife ; but to 
do this he had to break the religious bond which mar- 
riage had established. Thus religion imposed upon the 
father as many obligations as it conferred rights. 

Such for a long time was the ancient family. The 
spiritual belief was sufficient without the need of the 
law of force, or of the authority of a social power to 
constitute it regularly, to give it a discipline, a govern- 
ment and justices and to establish private-law in all its 


Morals of the Aacieut Family. 

HiSTOHT does not study material facts and institu- 
tions alone ; its true object of study is the h^man 
mind : it should aspire to know what this mind has 
believed, thought, and felt in the different ages" of the 
life of the human race. 

We described, at the opening of this book, the an- 
cient opinion which men held concerning their destiny 
after death. We have shown how this creed produced 


domestic institutions and private law. It remaiiis to 
discover what its action was upon morals in primitive 
societies. Without pretending that this old religion 
created moral sentiments in the heart of man, we may 
at least believe that it was associated with them to 
fortify them, to give them greater authority, to assure 
their supremacy and their right of direction over the 
conduct of men, sometimes also to give them a false 

The religion of "these primitive ages was exclusively 
domestic ; so also were morals. Religion did not say 
to a man, showing him another man. That is thy 
brother. It said to him, That is a stranger ; he can- 
not participate in the religioxis acts of thy hearth ; he 
cannot approach the tomb of thy family ; he has other 
gods than thine, and cannot unite with thee in a com- 
mon prayer ; thy gods reject his adoration, and regard 
him as their enemy ; he is thy foe also. 

In this religion of the hearth man never supplicates 
the divinity in favor of other men ; he invokes him 
only for himself and his. A Greek proverb has re- 
mained as a souvenir and a vestige of this ancient isola- 
tion of man in prayer. In Plutarch's time they still 
said to the egotist, You sacrifice to the hearth." This 
signified, Tou separate yourself fi-om other citizens ; 
you have no friends ; your fellow-men are nothing to 
you; you live solely for yourself and yours. This 
proverb pointed to a time when, all religion being 
around the hearth, the horizon of morals and of aflfeo- 
tion had not yet passed beyond the narrow circle of 
the family. 

It is natural that moral ideas, like religious ideas, 

' 'Eariif Btiiis. Pseudo-Plutarch, ed. Dubner, V. 167. 


should have their commencement and progresa, and 
the god of the primitive generations in this race was 
very small ; by degrees men made him larger ; so 
morals, very narrow and incomplete at first, became 
insensibly enlarged,; until, fi'om stage to stage, they 
reached the point of pi:oielaiming the duty of love to- 
wards all mankind. The point of departure was the 
family, and it was under the influence of the domestic 
religion that duties first appeared to the eyes of man. 

Let us picture to ourselves this religion of the fire 
and of the tomb in its flourishing period. Man sees 
a divinity near him. It ia present, like conscience it- 
self, to his minutest actions. This fragile being finds 
himself under the eye of a witness who never leaves 
him. He never feels himself alone. At his side in 
the house, in the field, he has protectors to sustain him- 
in the toils of life, and judges to punish his guilty ac- 
tions. " The Lares," said the Romans, " are formida- 
ble divinities, whose duty it is to punish mankind, and 
to watch over all that passes in the interior of the 
house." The Penates they also describe as "gods 
who enable us to live ; they nourish om- bodies and 
regulate our minds," ' 

Men loved to apply to the holy iire the epithet of 
chaste, and they believed that it enjoined chastity upon - 
mortals. No act materially or morally impure could 
be committed in its presence. 

The first ideas of wrong, of chastisement,, of expia- 
tion, seem to have come from this. The man who felt 
guilty no longer dared to approach his own hearth; 
his god repelled him. He who had shed blood was 
no longer allowed to sacrifice, or to offer libations, or 

' Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 61. Macrobius, Sat., III. 4. 


prayer, or to offer the sacred repast. The god was so 
severe that he admitted no excuse ; he did not dis- 
tinguish between an invohintary murder and a pre- 
meditated crime. The hand stained with blood could 
no longer touch sacred objects.' To enable a man to 
renew his worship, and to regain possession of his 
god, he was required at least to purify himself by an 
expiatory ceremony.' This religion knew pity, and 
had rites to efface the stains of the soul. Narrow and 
material as it was, it still knew how to console man for 
his errors. 

If it absolutely ignored the duties of chanty, at any 
rate it traced for man with admirable precision his 
family duties. It i-endered marriage obligatory ; celi- 
bacy was a crime in the eyes of a religion that 
made the perpetuity of the family the iirst and most 
holy of duties. But the union which it prescribed 
could be accomplished only in the presence of the 
domestic divinities ; it is the religious, sacred, indisso- 
luble union of the husband and wife. No man could 
omit the rites, and make of marriage a simple contract 
by consent, as it became in the latest period of Greek 
and Roman society. This ancient religion forbade it, 
and if one dared to offend in this particular, it pun- 
ished him for it. For the son sprung from such a 
union was considered a bastard, that is to say, a being 
who had neither place nor sacred fire ; he had no right 
1 •) perform any sacred act ; he could not pray.' 

This same religion watched with care over the 
purity of the family. In its eyes the greatest of crimes 

'. was adultery. For the first rule of the worship was 


' Hdts., I. 35. Virgil, ^n., II. 719. Plutarch, Theseus, 12. 
= ApoUonius of Ehodes, IV. 70i-707. iEsoh., Ohoeph., 96. 
" Isaeus, VIZ. Demosthenes, in Mwart. 


that the sacred fire should be transmitted from father 
to son, and. adultery disturbed the order of birth. An- 
other rule was, that the tomb should contain only mem- 
bers of the family ; but the son born of adultery was a 
stranger. If he was buiied in the tomb, all the princi- 
ples of the religion were violated, the worship defiled, 
the sacred fire became impure; every offering at the 
tomb became an act of impiety. Worse still, by 
adultery the series of descendants was broken ; the 
family, even though living men knew it not, became 
extinct, and there was no more divine happiness for 
the ancestors. The Hindu also says, " The son born 
of adultery annihilates in this world and in the next 
the offerings made to the manes." 

Here is the reason that the laws of Greece and 
Rome give the father the right to reject the child just 
born. Here, too, is the reason that they are so rigor- 
ous, so inexorable, against adultery. At Athens the 
husband is allowed to kill the guilty one. At Rome 
the husband, as the wife's judge, condemns her to 
death. This religion was so severe that a man had 
not even the right to pardon completely, and that he 
was forced at least to repudiate his wife.^ 

These, then, are the first moral and domestic laws 
discovered and sanctioned. Here is, besides the nat- 
ural sentiment — ap irapei'ious religion, which tells the 
husband and wife that they are united forever, and 

' Laws of Mann, III. 17S. 

* Demosthenes, in Near., 89. Though this primitive moral- 
ity condemned adultery, it did not reprove incest; religion 
authorized it. The prohibitions relative to marriage were the 
reverse of ours. One might marry his sister (Demosthenes, in 
Near., 22 ; Corn. 'Se^aa., 'procemium ; id., Life of Cimon ; Minu- 
cius Felix, in OUavio), but it was forbidden, as a principle, to 
marry a woman of another city. 


that from this union flow rigorous duties, the neglect 
of which brings with it the gravest consequences in 
this life and in the next. Hence came the serioms and 
sacred character of the conjugal union among the an- 
cients, and the purity which the family long preserved. 

This domestic morality prescidbed still other duties. 
It taught the wife that she ought to obey ; the hus- 
band, that he ought to command. It instructed both 
to respect each other. The wife had rights, for she 
had her place at the sacred fire ; it was her duty to see 
that it did not die, out.' She too, then, has her priest- 
hood. Where she is not found, the domestic worship 
is incomplete and insufficient. It was a great misfor- 
tune to a Greek to have a " hearth deprived of a wife."' 
Among the Romans the presence of the wife was so 
necessary in the sacrifices that the priest lost his office 
on becoming a widower." 

It was, doubtless, to this division of the domestic 
priesthood that the mother of the family owed the 
veneration with which they never ceased to surround 
her in Greek and Roman society ; hence it came that 
the wife had the same title in the family as the hus- 
band. The Romans said pater familias and mater 
/amilias / the Greeks, olxoSean6irjg and oixSionoina ; 
the Hindus, grihapati and grehapatni. Hence also 
came this formula, which the wife pronounced in the 
Roman marriage : uM tu Ccmts, ego Caia — a formula 
which tells us that, if in the house there was not equal 
authority, there was equal dignity. 

As to the son, we have seen him subject to the 

' Cato, 143. Dionys. of Halic, II. 22. Laws of Manu, III. 
G2; V. 161. 
* Xenophon, Govt, of the Lacedamonians, 
' Plutarch, Som. Quest., 60. 


authority of a father, who could sell him or condemn 
him to death. But this son had also his part in the 
worship ; he filled a place in the religious ceremonies ; 
Ms presence on certain days was so necessary that the 
'Roman wTio bad no son was forced to adopt a fictiiious 
one for those days, in order that the rites might be per- 
formed.' And here religion establislied a very power- 
ful bond between father and son. They believed in a 
second life in the tomb — a life happy and calm if the 
fnneral repasts were regularly oBfcred. Thus the father 
is convinced ttiat Ms destiny ^er this life will depend 
upon the care that his son will take of his tomb, and the 
son, on Tiis part, is convinced that his father will be- 
come a god after death, wliom he will have to invoke. 

"We can imagine how much respect and Teeiproc;il 
affection this Taelief would establish in the family. The 
ancients gave to the domestic virtues the name of 
piety — the obedience of the son to his father, the love 
which he tore to lis mother. This was piety — /jietes 
erga parentes. The attachment of the father for the 
child, the tenderness of the mother, — these, too, were 
piety — pietas ergaWberos. Evei'y thing in the family 
was divine. The sense of duty, natural affection, the 
religious idea, — all these were confounded, were con- 
sidered as one, ^nd wfire expressed by the same word. 

It will, peAaps, appear strange to find love of home 
counted among the virtues; but it was so counted 
among the ancients. This sentiment had a deep and 
powerful hold upon their minds. Anchises, when he 
sees Troy in fl'ames, is still unwilling to leave his old 
home. TJlysses, when .countless treasures, and immor- 
tality itself, are oW&r&A feina,, wisihes only again to •see 
the flame of his own heartb-fiire. Let us come down to 

' Dionys. of Halic, II. 20, 22. 


Cicero's time ; it is no longer a poet, but a statesman, 
who speaks: "Here is my religion, here is my race, 
here are the traces of ray forefathers. I cannot express 
the charm which I find here, and which penetrates my 
heart and my senses." ' We must place ourselves, in 
thought, in the midst of these primitive generations to 
understand how lively and powerful were these senti- 
ments, which were already enfeebled in Cicero's day. 
For us the house is merely a domicile — a shelter ; we 
leave it, and forget it with little trouble ; or, if we are 
attached to it, this is merely by the force of habit and of 
recollections; because, for us, religion is not there; 
our God is the God of the universe, and we find him 
everywhei-e. It was entirely different among the an- 
cients ; they found their principal divinity within the 
house : this was their providence, which protected 
them individually, which heard their prayers, and 
granted their wishes. Out of the house, man no longer 
felt the presence of a god ; the god of his neighbor 
was a hostile god. Then a man loved his house as he 
now loves his church." 

Thus the religion of the primitive ages was not 
foreign to the moral development of this part of hu- 
manity. Their gods enjoined purity, and forbade the 
shedding of blood ; the notion of justice, if it was not 
born of this belief, must at least have been fortified by 
it. These gods belonged in common to all the mem- 
bers of the same family ; thus the family was united 
by a powerful tie, and all its members learned to love 
and respect each other. These gods lived in the in- 

' Cicero, De Legih., ir. 1. Pro Domo, 41. 

" Of the sanctity of the aomieile, which the ancients always 
spoke of as inviolable, Demosthenes, in Androt., 52; in Ever- 
gum, 60. Digest, de in jus iioc, II. 4. 


terior of each house ; a man loved his house, his home, 
fixed and durable, which he had received from his an- 
cestors, and which he transmitted to his children as a 

Ancient morality, governed by this belief, knew no 
charity; but it taught at least the domestic virtues. 
Among this race the isolation of the family was the 
commencement of morals. Duties, clear, precise, nnd 
imperious, appeared, but they were restricted within a 
narrow circle. This narrow character of primitive 
morals we must recollect as we proceed ; for civil so- 
ciety, founded later on these same principles, put on 
the same character, and several singular traits of an- 
cient politics are explained by this fact.' 


The Gens at Rome and in Greece. 

We find in the writings of Roman jurists and in 
Greek writers the traces of an antique institution which 
appears to have had its flourishing period in the first 
ages of Greek and Italian societies, but which, be- 
coming enfeebled by degrees, left vestiges that were 
hardly perceptible in the later portion of their history. 
We speak of what the Romans called gens., and the 
Greeks y^voc. 

• What is said of ancient morals in this chapter is intended to 
apply to those peoples that afterwards became Greeks and Ro- 
mans. This morality was modified with time, especially among 
the Greeks. Already in the Odyssey we find new sentiments and 
other manners. 


As the nature and constitution of the gens .have beem 
much discussed, it may not be amiss here ilo point oJit 
what has conetirtuted the difEoulty of the problem. 

The ffens, as we shall see presently, formed a body 
whose •constitution was radically aristocratic Xt was 
through their internal organization that the patiicians 
of Rome and the Enpatrids of Atbens were able to 
perpetuate their pilvileges for so long a time. 2fo 
sooner had the popular pasjty gained the upper hand, 
than they .attacked this old insititution with all their 
power. If they bad been able completely to destroy 
jt, they would probably not liave left us the slightest 
memorial of it. But it was siogularly eEdowed with 
vitality, and deeply rooted in their maaneE%uad they 
could not entirely blot it out. They therefore contented 
themselves with modifying it. They took away its essen- 
tial character, and left only its external features, which 
were not in the way of the new regime. Thus, at Rome, 
the plebeians undertook to form ffentes, in imitation of 
the patricians ; at Athens they attempted .to overthrow 
the gentes,to blend them together, and to replace them 
by the demes, which were established in imLtatioa of 
them. We .shaU have to return to the subject when 
we speak of the revolutions. Let it suffice here for us 
to remark, that fliis .proibaud alteration which the 
democracy introduced into the regime of the ffens is 
of a nature to mislead those who undertake to learn 
its primitive constitution. Indeed, almost all the in- 
formation concerning it that has come down to us dates 
from the epoch when it had been thus transformed, 
and shows us only ithat paat whieh the revolutions had 
■alowed to subsist. 

Let us suppose that, twenty centuries hence, all 
knowledge of the middle ages has perished; that there 


remain no documents relating to what passed before 
the levalutian of 1789 j aJid- that,: notwithstainding this, 
an historian of that time wishes to form an idea of insti- 
tutions of an earlier- date. The only documents that he 
would have at Jiand would show him the. nobiMty of 
the ffliineteenth century — that is to say, something very 
different from tbat of feudalism', hut he would snspecfc 
that a great revolution had taken place, and he would 
riglitly conclude that this institution, like all the others, 
must have been modified. This nobility, wliich his au- 
thorities would describe to- him,, would- no longec be 
for him an-ythaig but the shadow or the enfeebled, 
aind altei-ed ioniage of anotbcr nobirlitj, incomparably 
more powerful. Finally, if be examined with attention 
the sligliiit remains of ancient monuments, a few ex- 
pressions preserved in the language, a few terms 
escaiped- from th« law, vague soavenira oi- sterile re- 
grets, he wonlid perhaps be able to> conjecture 8ome>- 
thing concernang the feudal system, and wouW obtain 
an idiea of the institratioms of the raiddie' ages; tJiat. 
would not be very far from the truth. The difficulty 
would assiirexUy be great; nor is it less for himi who 
to-day desires to wnderstand the amtique gens; for he 
baa no information regarding it except what dates froioii 
a time when it was no longer anything but a shadkrw 
of itself. 

We will commence by anaiiyziBg all that the ameienA 
writers tell us of the gens ; that is to say, what remained 
of it at the- epoch when, it was aJjieadiy greatly changed. 
Then, by the' aid of these remaibs, we shall aittempt to 
catch a glitnpse of the- veritable system of the anti'qu'e' 


1. What Ancient Writers tell us of the Gene. , 

If we open a Roman history at the time of the Punic 
wars we meet three pei'sonages, whose names are 
Claudius Pulcher, Claudius Nero, and Claudius Centho. 
All three belong to the same gens — the Claudian 

Demosthenes in one of his orations produces seven 
witnesses, who certify that they belong to the same 
yivog, that of the Brytidse. What is remarkable in 
this example is, that the seven persons cited as mem- 
bers of the same yi^og are inscribed in six different 
demes. This shows that the yifo; did not correspond 
exactly with the deme, and was not, like it, a simple 
administrative division.' 

Here is one fact established : there were gentes at 
Rome and at Athens. We might cite examples rela- 
tive to many other cities of Greece and Italy, and 
conclude from them that, in all probability,, this in- 
stitution was universal among these ancient nations. 

Every gens had a special worship ; in Greece the 
tnembers of the same gens were recognized " by the 
fact that they had performed saciifices in common from 
a vfery early period." ^ Plutarch speaks of the place 
where the Lycomedse sacrificed, and .lEschines speaks 
of the altar of the gens of the Butadse.' 

' Demosthenes, in, Necer., 71. Plutarch, Themist., 1. Ma- 
chines, Be Falsa Legat., 147? Bceckh, Corp. Insc, 385. Koss, 
Demi Attici, 2i. The gens among the Greeks is often called 
noT^a. Pindar, passim. 
' Hesychius, '/trcjjTai. Pollux, III. 52, Harpocration, iqytmn;, 
^ Plutarch Themist , I. .^Isch., De Falsa Legat., 147. 


At Rome, too, each gens bad religious ceremonies to 
perform; the day, the place, and the rites were fixed 
by its particular religion.' When the capital is be- 
sieged by the Gauls, one of the Fabil, clothed in re- 
ligious robes, and carrying sacred objects in his hands, 
is seen to go out and cross the enemy's lines; he goes 
to oflfer sacrifice on the altar of his gens, which is situ- 
ated on the Quirinal. In the second Punic war, 
another Fabius, whom they called the Shield of Rome, 
is making head against Hannibal. Certainly it is of the 
fii-st importance to the republic that he remains with 
his army ; and yet he leaves it in the hands of the im- 
prudent Minucins: this is because the anniversary of 
the sacrifice of his gens has arrived, and he must be at 
Rome to perform the sacred act.' 

It was a duty to perpetuate this worship from genera- 
tion to generation, and every man was required to 
leave sons after him to continue it. Claudius, a per- 
sonal enemy of Cicero, abandoned ,bis gens to enter a 
plebeian family, and Cicero says to him, " Why do you 
expose the religion of the Claudian gens to the risk of 
becoming extinct through your fault ? " 

The gods of the gens — Dii gentiles — protected no 
other gens, and did not desire to be invoked by an- 
other. Ifo stranger could be admitted to the religious 
ceremonies. It was believed that if a stranger had a 
•part of the victim, or even if he merely assisted at the 
sacrifice, the gods of the gens were ofiended, and all 
the members were guilty of grave impiety. 

Just'^is every gens had its worship and its religious 

' Cicero, De Arusp. Sesp., 15. Dion. Halic, XI. 14. Fes- 
tus, Propudi. 

» Livy, V. 46 ; XXII. 18. Valer. Max., 1. 1, 11. Polybius, III. 
94. Pliny, XXXIV. 13. Macrobiu8, III. 6. 

136' THE FjVMItT. BOOK 11. 

festivals, so also it bad its common tomb. We reaxJ' in 
an oration of I)emo6thene», " This' man, having lost 
his children, buiied them' in the tomb of his fathers, in 
that tomb' that is- common tO' all those of his gens." 
The rest of the oration sho'ws that no stranger could be^ 
buried in this tomb. In another discourse, the same 
orator speaks of the tomb where the gens' of the Busel- 
idae buried its members, and where every year it per- 
formed its funeral sacrifices: "this burial-place is a 
large field, surrounded with an enctosu-re; according to 
the ancient custom." "' 

The same was the case among the Romans. Vel- 
leius Patereulus spcats of the tomb- of the QuintHian 
gens, and Suetonius informs us that the Claudian gens 
had one on the slope of the Capitoline Hill. 

The ancient l':iw of Rome permits the members' of a 
gens to inherit flora each other. The Twelve Tables^ 
declare that, in default of" sons and of agnates, the 
gtnUlis' is the natural heir. According' to this code, 
therefore, th'e gentiVes are nearer akin than the cog- 
nates; that is to say, nearer than those related through 

Nothing is more ctosely united than the members 
of a gens. Unrted in the celebration of the same sa- 
cred ceremonies, they mutually &\& each other iii all 
the ucc ds of life. The entire gens is- responsible for 
the debt of one of its members;- it redeem'S' the prison- 
er and pays the fine of one condemned. If one of its 
members becomes a ma^trate; it unites to pay the 
expenses incident to the magistracy." 

The accused was accompanied, to the tribunal by all 

' Demosthenes, in Macaii,^ 79 ;, im Hubad., 28. 

' Livy, V. 32. Dinn. Halici, XIII. 6. Appiany^nnii.,. 28. 


the members of his gens; this marks the close reiaition 
wMeh the law estaWished between a man and the body 
of which he forni«d a part. For a man to ptead or 
bear witness against one of his own gens' was an aict 
contrary to religion. A certain Claudius, a man of 
some rank, was a personal enemy of Appiua Claiudiua 
the Decemvir J yet when the latter wa&pkced on trial, 
and was menaced with death, this Claudius appeared 
in his defence, and implored the people in Ws favor, but 
n-ot without giving themi notice that he took this step 
" not on account of any affection which he bore th& 
accused, but as a duty." 

If a member of a gems could not accuse another 
member before a tribunfll of the city, this was because 
there was a tribun-al in the gens itself. Each gens bad 
its chief, who was' at the same time its judge, its priosty 
and its military cGmmander,' Every one knows that 
when the Sabine family of the Claudii established itself 
at Rome^the three thousand persons who composed it 
obeyed a single chief. Later, when the Fabii took 
upon' themselves th« whole war • agsiinsli the TeienteSj 
we see that this gen» had its chief, who spoke in ita 
name before the senate, and who led it. agaiinat the 

In Greece, too, each gens bad its: chief; the insevip- 
tions confirm this, and they show us that this chief 
generally bore th« title of airchom.* Finally, ini Eome, 
as in Gireeeci the' gen's had its assemblies j it passed' 
laws which its members were boond to obey, and which 
the eity viseiS respected.* 

I Dion. Halic, II. 7. ' Ibid., IX. 5. 

" Boeekh, Corp'. Mserip^ 397, 399. Ross, Demi AttM, 24. 
* Livy, VI. 20; Suetonius, TUier., 1. Ross, Demi AiHoi, 


Such are the usages and laws which we find still in 
force at an epoch when the gens was already enfeebled 
and almost destroyed. Such are the remains of this 
ancient institution. 

a. An Mcamination of certain Opinions that have 
been put forth to explain the Roman Gens. 

On this subject, which lias long been the therae of 
learned controversy, several theories have been offered. 
Some say that the gens was nothing more than a simi- 
larity in name ; ' others, that the word gens designated 
a sort of factitious relationship. Still others hold that 
the gens was merely the expression of a relation be- 
tween a family which acted as pati'ons and other fami- 
lies that were clients. But none of these explanations 
answer to the whole series of facts, laws, and usages 
which we have just enumerated. 

Another opinion, more plausible, is, that the gens was 
a political association of several families who were ori- 
ginally strangers to each other ; and that in default of 
ties of blood, the city established among them an im- 
aginary union and a sort of religious relationship. 

But a first objection presents itself: If the gens is only 
a factitious association, how are we to explain the fact 
that its members inherited from each other? Why is the 
gentilis preferred to the cognate? It has been seen above 
what the rules of succession were, and we have pointed 
.out the close and necessary relation which religion had 
established between the right of inheritance and mas- 

■ Two passages of Cicero, Tuscul., I., 16, and Topica, 6, have 
tended to confuse the question. Cicero, like most of his con- 
temporaries, appears not to have understood what the ancient 
gens really was. 


culine kinship. Can we suppose that ancient law de- 
viated so far from this principle as to accord the right 
of succession to the gentiles if they had been strangers 
to each other? 

The best established and most prominent character- 
istic of the gens is, that, like the family, it had a worship. 
Now, if we inquire what god each adores, we find almost 
always that it is a deified ancestor, and that the altar 
where the sacrifice is offered is a tomb. At Athens the Eu- 
molpidse worshipped Eumolpus, the author of their race ; 
the Phytalidse adored the hero Phytalus; the Butadse, 
Butes; the Buselidae, Buselus; the Lakiadse, Lakios; 
the Amynandridse, Cecrops.' At Rome the Claudii are 
descended from a Clausus ; the Caecilii honored as chief 
of their race the hero CsbcuIus ; the Calpurnii, a Calpus ; 
the Julii, a Julus ; the ClcBlii, a Cloelus.' 

We may easily suppose, it is true, that many of these 
genealogies were an afterthought ; but we must admit 
that this sort of imposture would have had no motive 
if it had not been a constant usage among the real gen- 
tes to recognize and to worship' a common ancestor. 
Falsehood always seeks to imitate the truth. Besides, 
the imposture was not so easy as it might seem to us. 
This worship was not a vain formality for parade. 
One of the most rigorous rules of the religion was, that 
no one should honor as an ancestor any except those 
from whom he was really descended; to offer this 
worship to a stranger was a grave impiety. If, then, 
the members of a gens adored a common ancestor, it 
was because they really believed they were descended 

' Demosthenes, in Macart., 79. Pausanias, I. 37. Inscrip' 
Hon of the Amynandridcs, cited by Ross, p. 24. 
' ifestus, CaculuSy Calpurnii, Clcelii. 


from him. To counterfeit a tomb, to establish anniver- 
saries and an annual woi'ship, would have been to carry 
falsehood into what they held most dear, and to triflte- 
with religion. Such a fiction was possible in the 
time of Caesai', when the old family religion was eh^r- 
ished by nobody. But if we go back to the time when 
this creed- was in its vigm-, we camnot imagine that sev- 
eral families, taking part in the same imposture, could 
say to each other, We will pretend to have a common 
ancestor ; we will erect him a tomb ', we will offer him 
funeral repasts;; and our descendanits shall adore him in 
all future time. Such a thought could not have pre- 
sented itself to their minds, or it would have been 
scouted as an impiety. 

In the difficult problems oftea found in history, it iis 
well to seek from the terms of lamguage all the instruc- 
tion which they can afford. An institution is some- 
times explained by tho word that designates it. Now, 
the word ffens means exactly the same as the word 
ffenus / so completely alike are they that we can take 
the one for the other, and say, indifferently, gena Fahia 
and gemus Fahium; both correspond to the verb gig- 
nere and to the substantive geniim, precisely as fifog 
corresponds to yetvav and to yotEig. All these words 
convey the same idea of filiation. The Greeks also 
deagfnated the members of a yhio? by the word 6iJiciy&' 
IttKTE?,, which signifies nourished by the same milk. Let 
these words be compared with those which we are ac- 
castomed to translate by fa/mily — the Latin familia^ 
the Greek hms,. Neither of these last has the sense of 
generation or of kinship. The true signification of 
familia is property; it designates the field, the house, 
money, and slaves; and it ib for this reason that the 
Twelve Tables say, in speaking of the heir, familidm 


•nancitor — let him take the &u.ccesaioH. As to -Siaos, it 
is dear that this w©rd presents to the mimd noathei-idca 
than tJaat of property orof idomieiLe, And yet these are 
the words tfcat we haibitaally translate by family. Now, 
is it admissible that terms whose intrinsic meaning is thai 
lof domicile or property were often used to designaite a 
family, and that other words wiioae primairy sense is iili- 
latiiom, birth, patea-nity, ihaye never designated anything 
but an artificial aasoeiation ? Certainily this would not 
be in conformity with -tlie logic, so dai-eot and clear, of , the 
sineient languages. It is unquestionable that thej Oreeks 
;aiid the Romans attaebed to th« words gens and yiKog 
■tjitte idea of a common origin. This idea migh.t have 
become obscured after the gens was modified, bui .the 
wiord ihas remaisaed to bear witoess of it. 

The theory that presents the gens as a factitious 
association has •.against it, tJier€.foi«, 1st, the old legis- 
Jation, which gives the gentiles the right of inheritance ; 

2, the old religion, which allowed a aommon worship only 
where there was a common iparenitage ; .3d, the .ternw 
■of language, which .attest in ithe gens a .common origia. 
The theory has also this other def&e4 .that it supposes 
liuman societies to have commenced by a couvention 
^nd an artifice — a position which hietofical .science can- 
not adtnift as true. 

3. The Gens is the Family stiU holding its primitive 

Organization .and its Unity. 

All the evidence pi-esents us the gens as united by 
ithe tie of biilth. Let ius again oons,uJ.t language : the 
names of the genties, in Gneece ,as well as in Rome, all 
fcave the form which was used in the .two languages for 
patronyraiieB. Claudius signifies (the «ob of Olausus, and 
Baitadse, the sons of Bjitea. 


Those who think they see in the gens an artificial 
association, set out from a false assumption. They 
suppose that a gens always consisted of several families 
having diflferent names, and they cite the Cornelian 
gens, which did indeed include Scipios, Lentuli, Cossi, 
and Syllae. But this is very far from having heen 
a general rule. The Marcian gens appears never to 
have had more than a single line. We also find but 
one in the Lucretian gens, and but one in the Qiiintil- 
ian gens, for a long time. It would certainly be very 
difficult to tell what families composed the Fabian gens, 
for all the Fabii known in history belong manifestly to 
the same stock. At first they all bear the same sur- 
name of Vibulanus ; they all change it afterwards for 
that of Ambustus, which they replace still later by 
Maximus or Dorso. 

We know that it was customary at Rome for all 
patricians to have three names. One was called, for 
example, Publius Cornelius Soipio. It may be worth 
the while to inquire which of these three names was 
considered as the true name. Publius was merely a 
name placed before — prmnomen ; Scipio was a name 
added — agnomen. The true name was Cornelius ; and 
this name was at the same time that of the whole gens. 
Had we only this single indication regarding the an- 
cient gens, it would justify us in affirming that there 
were Cornelii before there were Scipios, and not, as it 
is often said, that the family of the Scipios associated 
with others to form the Cornelian gens. 

History teaches us, in fact, that the Cornelian gens 
was for a long time undivided, and that all the mem- 
bers alike bore the surname of Maluginensis, and that of 
Cossus. It was not till the time of the dictator Carailliis 
that one of its branches adopted the surname of Scipio, 


A little later another branch took the surname of Rufus, 

which it replaced afterwards by that of Sylla. The 
Lentuli do not appear till the tirae of the Samnite wars, 
the Cethegi not until the second Punic war. It is the 
same with the Claudian gens. The Claudii remained 
a long time united in a single family, and all bore the 
surname of Sabinus or of Regillensis, a sign of their 
oi'igin. We follow them for seven generations without 
seeing any branches formed in this family, although it 
had become very numerous. It was only in the eighth, 
that is to say, in the time of the first Punic war, that 
we see three branches separate, and adopt three sur- 
names which became hereditary with them. These 
were thePulchri, who continued during two centuries; 
the Centhoa, who soon became extinct, and the Neros, 
who continued to the time of the empire. 

From all this it is clear that the gens was not an 
association of families, but that it was the family itself. 
It might either comprise only a single line, or produce 
several branches; it was always but one family. 

Besides, it is easy to account for the formation of 
the antique gens and for its nature, if we but refer to 
the old belief and to the old institutions that we have 
already described. We shall see, even, that the gens 
is derived very naturally from the domestic religion and 
from the private law of the ancient ages. Indeed, what 
did this primitive religion prescribe ? That the ances- 
tor, that is to say, the man who was first buried in the 
tomb, should be perpetually honored as a god, and that 
his descendants, assembled every year near the sacred 
place where he reposed, should ofl'er him the funeral 

This fire always kept burning, this tomb always hon- 
ored with a worship, were the centre around which all 


later generations came to live, and by whidh all tfee 
branches of the family, however numerous they might 
be, remained grouped in a single body. What more 
does private law tell us of those ancient ages? Wliile 
studying the nature of aathoMty in the ancient faTniily, 
we saw that the son did not iseparate fiiom the father ; 
whi'le studying the rules for the transmission of the 
patrimony, we saw that, on aocoHmt of the right of pri- 
mogeniture, the yoninger brothers did not separate from 
the oldest. Hearth, tomb, patiiwony, all these, in the 
beginning, were indivisible. The family, conseqfuently, 
was also indivisible. Time did not dismember it. This 
indivisible family, which developed through ages, per- 
petuating its worship and its name from century to 
century, was really the antique gens. The gens was 
the family, but the family having preserved the umVy 
which its religion ■enjoined, and having attained all the 
development whicli ancient private law permitted it to 

' We need not repeat what we liave already said of agnation 
-(B. II., ch. v). We can see that agnaiio and gentilitas — the 
relationship of the gentiles — flowed from tlie same principles, 
and were ifilationships of the same nature. The j)a6sage in Hm 
iaw of ,the Twelve Tahles which assigns the inheritance to Jhfi 
gentHes, in defa.u\t ot agnati, embarrassed the jurisconsults, and 
led to the opinion that ther,e was an essential difference between 
these two kinds of kinship. But this difference is nowhere 
found. One was agnalius, as one was gent'^is, by masculine de- 
scent and Che religious bond. There was only a differemce of 
(degsroe, which ibesgan when the branches of the same gens were 
separated. The .ag,ttatus was a member of the .branch ; the gen- 
tilis of the gens. There was therefore the same distinction 
between the terms gentilis and agnatvs as between the words 
gens and familia. Familiam dicimvs omnium agnatorum, 
says tJlpian in the Digest, L. tit., 16, § 198. One, when he was 
the agnate of a man, was, for a still etronger reason, his geirti- 


This tiTith admitted, all that the ancient writers have 
told us of the gens becomes clear. T)ie close unity 
which we have remarked among its members is no 
longer surprising ; they are related by birth, and the 
worship which they practise in common is not a fiction ; 
it comes to them from their ancestors. As they are .'i 
single family, they have a common tomb. For the 
same reason the law of the Twelve Tables declares 
them qualified to inherit each other's property. For 
the same reason, too, they bear the same name. As all 
had, in the beginning, a single undivided patrimony, it 
was a custom, and even a necessity, that the entire gens 
should be answerable for the debt of one of its mem- 
bers, and that they should pay the ransom of the pris- 
oner and the fine' of the convict. All these rules be- 
came established of themselves while the gens still 
retained its unity; when it was dismembered they 
could not disappear entirely. Of the ancient and sa- 
cred unity of this family there remain persistent traces 
in the annual sacrifices which assembled the scattered 
members ; in the name that remained common to them ; 
in the legislation which recognized the right oi gentiles 
to inherit ; in their customs which enjoined them to 
aid each other.' 

lis ; but he could not be a gentilis without being an agnate. The 
law of the Twelve Tables gave the inheritance, in default of ag- 
nates, to those who were only gentiles of the deceased, that 
is to say, who were of his gens, without bring of his branch or 
of his famiUa. 

^ The use of patronymics dates from this high antiquity, and 
is connected with this old religion. Every gens transmitted the 
name of the ancestor from generation to generation with tlip 
same care as it perpetuated its worship. What tlie Konians called 
nomen was this name of the ancestor which all the members 
of the gens bore. A day came when each branch, becoming 


4. The Family {Gens) was at fast the only Form of 

What we have seen of the family, its domestic re- 
ligion, the gods which it had created for itself, the 
laws that it had estahlished, the right of primogeniture 
on which it had been founded, its unity, its develop- 
ment from age to age until the formation of the gens, 
its justice, its priesthood, its internal government, — car- 
ries us forcibly, in thought, towards a primitive epoch, 
when the family was independent of all superior power, 
and when the city did not yet exist. 

When we examine the domestic religion, those gods 
who belonged only to one family and exercised theii 
providence only within the walls of one house, this 
worship which was secret, this religion which would 

independent in certain respects, marked its individaality by 
adopting a surname {fognmaenC). Each person was, moreoTer, 
distinguished by a particular denomination, agnomen, as Oaius, 
or Quintus. But the true name, the official name, the sacred 
name, was that of the gens ; this, coming from the first Icnown 
ancestor, was to last as long as the family and the gods lasted. 
It was the same in Greece. Every Greek, at least if he belonged 
to an ancient and regularly established &mily, had, like the 
Roman patrician, three names. One was his individual name; 
another was that of his father ; and as these two generally alter- 
nated with each other, they were, together, equivalent to the 
hereditary cognomen, which at Borne designated a branch of the 
gens. Lastly, the third name was that of the entire gens. Ex- 
amples : MiXriairii Kifiiavoe JaxiuStig, and in the following gen- 
eration, Kifiiav MtXriuSov jlaxiudiiq. The Lakiadse formed a 
ylvos, as the Cornelii formed a gens. It was the same with the 
Butadae, the Phytalidse, &c. Pindar never extols his heroes 
without recalling the name of their ysvoj. This name, in Greek, 
usually ended in iiiijs or aJijs, and thus had an adjective form, just 
as the name of the gens among the Romans invariably ended in 


not be propagated, this antique morality which pre- 
scribed the isolation of families, ■— it is clear that beliefs 
of this nature could not have taiken root in the minds 
of men, except in an age when larger societies were 
not yet formed. If the religious sentiment was satis- 
fied with so narrow a conception of the divine, it was 
because human associations were then narrow in pro- 
portion. The time when men believed only in the 
domestic gods was the time when there existed only 
families. It is quite true that this belief might have 
subsisted afterwards, and even for a long time, when 
cities and nations existed. Man does not easily free 
himself from opinions that have once exercised a strong 
influence over him. This belief might endure, there- 
fore, even when it was in disaccord with the social 
state. What is there, Indeed, more contradictory than 
to live in civil society and to have particular gods in 

ivs. This was none the less the true name. In daily life a man 
might be called by his individual surnanje ; but in (he official 
language of politics or religion, his complete name, and above 
all the name of the Yivog, was required. (Later the democracy 
substituted the name of the deme for that of the 'ylvog.) The 
history of names followed a different course in ancient from 
what it has followed in modern times. In tho middle ages, 
until the twelfth century, the true name was the individual or 
baptismal name. Patronymics came quite late, as names of 
estates or surnames. It was just the reverse among the an- 
cients ; and this difference is due to tlie difference of the two 
religions. Tor the old domestic religion, the family was the 
true body, of which the individual was but an inseparable mem- 
ber ; the patronymic was, therefore, the first name in date and 
in importance. The new religion, on the contrary, recognized 
in the individual complete liberty and entire personal indepen- 
dence, and was not in the least opposed to separating him from 
the family. Baptismal names were, therefore, the first, and for 
a long time the only, names. 


each family ? But it is clear that this contradiction 
did not always exist, and that at the epoch when this 
belief was established in the mind, and became power- 
ful enough to form a religion, it corresponded exactly 
with the social state of man. Now, the only social 
state that is in accord with such a belief is that in 
which the family lives independent and isolated. 

In such a state the whole Aryan race appears to 
have lived for a long time. The hymns of the Vedas 
confirm this for the branch from which the Hindus are 
descended, and the old beliefs and the old private laws 
attest it for those who finally became Greeks and 

If we compare the political institutions of the Aryas 
of the East with those of the Aryas of the West, we 
find hardly any analogy between them. If, on the con- 
trary, we compare the domestic institutions of these 
various nations, we perceive that the family was con- 
stituted upon the same principles in Greece and in 
India ; besides, these principles were, as we have al- 
ready shown, of so singular a nature that we cannot sup- 
pose this resemblance to have been the work of chance. 
Finally, not only do these institutions offer an evident 
analogy, but even the words that designate them are 
often the same in the different languages which this 
race has spoken from the Ganges to the Tiber. From 
tills fact we may draw a double conclusion : one is, 
that the origin of domestic institutions among the na- 
tions of this race is anterior to the period when its 
different branches separated ; the other is, that the 
origin of political institutions is, on the contrary, later 
than this separation. The first were fixed from the 
time when the race still lived in its ancient cradle of 
Central Asia. The second were formed by degrees in 


the different countries to which its migrations con- 
ducted. We can catch a glimpse therefore of a long 
period, during which men knew no other form of so- 
ciety than the family. Then arose the domestic reli- 
gion, which could not have taken root in a society 
otherwise constituted, and which must long have been 
an obstacle to social development. Then also was 
established ancient private law, which was found later 
to be in disaccord with the interests of a more extended 
social organization, but which was in perfect harmony 
with the state of society in which it arose. 

Let us place ourselves, in thought, thei'efore, in the 
midst of those ancient generations whose traces have not 
been entirely effaced, and who delegated their beliefs 
and their laws to subsequent ages. Each family has 
its religion, its gods, its priesthood. Religious isolation 
is a law with it; its ceremonies are secret. In death 
even, or in the existence that follows it, families do not 
mingle ; each one continues to live apart in the tomb, 
from which the stranger is excluded. Every family 
has also its property, that is to say, its lot of land, 
which is inseparably attached to it by its religion ; its 
gods — Termini — guard the enclosure, and its Maues 
keep it in their care. Isolation of property is so obli- 
gatory that two domains cannot be contiguous, but a 
band of soil must be left between them, which must be 
neutral ground, and must remain inviolable. Finally, 
every family has its chief, as a nation would have its 
king. It has its laws, which, doubtless, are unwritten, 
but which religious faith engraves in the heart of every 
man. It has its court of justice, above which there is 
no other that one can appeal to. Whatever man really 
needs for his material or moral life the family possesses 
within itselE It needs nothing from without ; it is an 
organized state, a society that suffices for itself. 


But this family of the ancient ages is not reduced to 
the proportions of the moflern family. In larger sociei- 
ties the family separates and deereases. But in thd 
absence of every other social organization, it extends, 
develops, and ramifies without becoming divided. 
Sevei-al younger branches remain grouped around an 
older one, near the one sacred fire and the common 

Still another element entered into the composition of 
this antique family. The reciprocal need which the 
poor has of the rich, and the rich has of the poor, makes 
servants. But in this sort of patriarchal regime ser- 
vant and slave were one. We can see, indeed, that 
the principle of a free and voluntaiy service, ceasing at 
the will of the servant, would ill accord with a social 
state in which a family lived isolated. Besides, the 
domestic religion did not permit strangere to be ad- 
mitted into a family. By some means, then, the ser- 
vant must become a member and an integrant part of 
the family. This was efieoted by a sort of initiation 
of the new comer into the domestic worship. 

A curious usage, that subsisted for a long time in 
Athenian houses, shows us how the slave entered- the 
family. They made him approach the fire, placed him 
in the presence of the domestic divinity, and pourisd- 
lustral water upon his head. He then shared with the 
family some cakes and fruit.' This ceremony bore a 
certain analogy to those of marriage and adoption. 
It doubtless signified that the new comer, a stranger 
the day before, should henceforth be a member of the 
family, and share in its reli^on. And thus the slave 

' Pemosthenes, in Stephannm, I. 74. Aristophanes, Pluiits, 
7G8. These two writers clearly indicate a ceremony, but do not 
describe it. The scholiast of Aristophanes adds a few details. 


joined m the prayera, and took part in the festivals.' 
The fire pi-oteeted him ; the religion of the Lares be- 
longed to him as well as to his master. This is why 
the slave was buried in the biirial-plaoe of the famlly.- 

But by the very act of acquiring this worship, and, 
the right to pray, he lost his liberty. Religion was a 
chain that held him. He was bound to the family for 
his whole life and after his death. 

His master could raise him fi-om his base servitude, 
and treat him as a fi-ee man. But the servant did not 
on this account quit the family. As he was bound to 
it by his worship, he could not, without impiety, sep- 
arate from it. Tinder the name of fieedman, or that 
of client, he continued to recognize the authority of the 
chief or patron, to be under obligationa to him. He 
did not marry without the consent of the master,, and 
his children continued to obey this, master. 

There was thus formed in the midst of the great 
family a certain number of small families of clients and 
subordinates^ The Romans atti'ibuted the establish- 
ment of clientship to Romulus, as if an instLtution of 
this nature could have been the work of a man. Client- 
ship i» older than Romulus. Besides,, it has existed, 
in other countries, in Greece as well as in all Italy. 
It was not the cities that established and regulated it ; 
th€y, on the contrary,, as we shall presently see, weak- 
ened and destroyed it by degrees., Clientship is an 
institution of the domestic law, and existed in families 
before there were cities. 

' Ferias in famuKs habento, Cicero, De Legib. II. 8; II. 12. 

2 Quum dominis, turn, famulis religio Larum. Cicero, De 
Legib., II. 11. Comp. iEsch., Agam., 1035-1038. The slave 
could even perform a religious act in the name of his master. 
Cato, De Re Bust., 83. ^ 


We are not to judge of the clientship of earlier ages 
from the clients that we see in Horace's time. The 
client, it is clear, was for a long time a servant attached 
to a patron. But there was then something to give 
him dignity ; he had a part in the worship, and was 
associated in the religion of the family. He had the 
same sacred fire, the same festivals, the same sacra as 
his patron. At Rome, in sign of this religious com- 
munity, he took the name of the family. He was con- 
sidered as a member of it by adoption. Hence the 
close bond and reciprocity of duties between the patron 
and the client. Listen to the old Roman law: "If a 
patron has done his client wrong, let him be accursed, 
sacer esto, — let liini die." The patron was obliged 
to protect his client by all the means and with aU 
the power of wliich he was master; by his prayers as 
a priest, by his lance as a warrior, by his law as a 
judge. Later, when the client was called before the 
city tribunal, it was the patron's duty to defend him. 
It was his duty even to reveal to him the mysterious 
formulas of the law that would enable him to gain his 
cause. One might testify in court against a cognate, 
but not against a client ; and men continued long to 
consider their duties towards clients as far above those 
towni'ds cognates.' Why? Because a cognate, con- 
nected solely through women, was not a relative, and 
had no part in the family religion. The client, on the 
contrary, had a community of worship; he had, in- 
ferior though he was, a real relationship, which con- 
sisted, according to the expression of Plato, in adoring 
the same domestic gods. 

Clientship was a sacred bond which religion had 
formed, and which nothing could break. Once the 

' Cato, in Aulus Gellius, V. 3 ; XXI. 1. 


client of a family, one could never be separated from 
it. Clientship was even hereditary. 

From all this we see that the family, in the earliest 
times, with its oldest branch and its younger branches, 
its servants and its clients, might comprise a very 
numerous body of men. A family that by its religion 
maintained its unity, by its private law rendered itself 
indivisible, and through the laws of clientship retained 
its servants, came to form, in the course of time, a very 
extensive organization, having its hereditary chief. 
The Aryan race appears to have been composed of an 
indefinite number of societies of this nature, during a 
long succession of ages. These thousands of little 
groups lived isolated, having little to do with each 
other, having no need of one another, united by no 
boni religious or political, having each its domain, 
each its internal government, each its gods. 



The Phratxy and the Cury. The Tribe. 

As yet we have given no dates, nor can we now. In 
the history of these antique societies the epochs are 
more easily marked by the succession of ideas and of 
institutions than by that of years. 

The study of the ancient rules of private law has 
enabled us to obtain a glimpse, beyond the times that 
are called historic, of a succession of centuries during 
which the family was the sole form of society. This 
family might then contain within its wide compass 
several thousand human beings. But in these limits 
human association was yet too narrow ; too narrow for 
material needs, since this family hai'dly sufficed for all 
the chances of life ; too narrow for the moral needs of 
our nature, for we have seen how incomplete was the 
knowledge of the divine, and how insufficient was the 
morality of this little world. 

The smallness of this primitive society corresponded 
well with the narrowness of the idea then entertained 
of the divinity. Every family had its gods, and men 
neither conceived of nor adored any save the domestic 



ciivinities. But be could not have contented himself 
long with these gods, so much below what his intelli- 
gence might attain. If many centuries were requived 
for him to arrive at the idea of God as a being unique, 
incomparable;, infinite, he must at any rate have insen- 
sibly appifoached this ideal, by enlarging his conception 
from age to age, and by extending little by Uttle the 
horizon whose line separated for him the divine Being 
from the things of this world. 

The religious idea and human society went on, there- 
fore, expanding at the same time. 

The domestic religion foi^bade two ^milies to mingle 
and unite; but it was possible for several families, ^. 
without sacrificing anything of their special religions, ^ 
to join, at least, for the celebration of another worship 
which might have been common to all of them. And 
this is what happened. A certain number of families 
formed a group, called, in the Grieek language, a phra- 
tria, in the Latin, a curia.' Did there exist the tie of 
birth between the families of the same group ? This 
cannot be affirmed. It is clear, however, that this new 
association was not formed without a certain enlarge- 
ment of religious ideas. Even at the moment when 
they united, these families conceived the idea of a 
divinity superior to that of the household. One who was 
common to all, and who watched over the entire group. 
They raised an altar to him, lighted a sacred fire, and 
founded a worship. 

There was no cury or phratry that had not its altar y}/'- 

' Homer, Iliad, 11. 362. Demosthefles, in Macart. leseas, 
III. 37; VI. 10; IX. S3. Phratries at Thebes, Pindar, Isthm., 
VII. 18, and Scholiast. Phrairia and curia are two terms that 
were translated the one by the other. Dion, of Halic, H. 85; 
Dion Cassius, fr. 14. 


and its protecting god. The religious act here was of 
the same nature as in the family. It consisted essen- 
tially of a repast, partaken of in common ; the nourish- 
ment had been prepared upon the altar itself, and was 
consequently sacred ; while eating it, the worshippers 
recited prayers ; the divinity was present, and received 
his part of the food and drink. 

These religious repasts of the cury lasted a long time 
at Rome ; Cicero mentions them, and Ovid describes 
them.' In the time of Augustus they had still pre- 
served all their antique forms. "I have seen, in those 
sacred dwellings," says a historian of this epoch, " the 
repast displayed before the god ; the tables were of 
wood, according to ancestral usage, and the dishes were 
of earthen ware. The food was loaves, cakes of fine 
flour, and fruits. I saw the libations poured out ; they 
did not fall from gold or silver cups, but from vessels 
of clay, and I admired the men of our day who remain 
so faithful to the rites and customs of their fathers."' 
At Athens these repasts took place during the festival 
called Apaturia? 

There were usages remaining in the latest period of 
Greek history which throw some light npon the nature 
of the ancient phratry. Thus we See that in the time 

' Cicero, De Orat., I. 7. Ovid, Fast., VI. 305. Dionysias, 
II. 68. 

" Dionysius, II. 23. And yet some clianges had been intro- 
duced. The feasts of the cury had become a vain formality. 
The members of the cury willingly neglected them, and the 
custom was introduced of replacing the common meal by a dis- 
tribution of victuals and money. Plautus, Aulularia, V. 69 
and 137. 

' Aristophanes, Acharn., 146. Athenaeus, IV. p. 171. Suidas, 


of Demosthenes, to be a member of a pbratry, one must 
have been bora of a legitimate marriage in one of the 
families that composed it ; for the religion of the phra- 
try, like that of tlie family, was transmitted only by 
blood. The young Athenian was presented to the 
phratry by his father, who swore that this was his son. 
The admission took place with a religious ceremony. 
The phratry sacrificed a victim, and cooked the flesh 
upon the altar. All the members were present. If 
they refused to admit the new comer, as they had a 
right to do, if they doubted the legitimacy of his birth, 
they took away the flesh from the altar. If they did 
not do this, if, after cooking, they shared with the 
young man the flesh of the victim, then he was admitted, 
and became a member of the association.' The ex- 
planation of these practices is, that the ancients believed 
any nourishment prepared upon an altar, and shared 
between several persons, established among them an 
indissoluble bond and a sacred union that ceased only 
with life. 

Every phratry or cnry had a chief, a curion, or phra- 
tiiarch, whose principal function was to preside at the 
sacrifices.' Perhaps his attributes were at first more 
extensive. The phratry had its assemblies and its tri- 
bunal, and could pass decrees. In it, as well as in the 
family, there were a god, a worship, a priesthood, a legal 
tribunal, and a government. It was a small society 
that was modelled exactly upon the family. 

The association naturally continued to increase, and 
after the same fashion ; several phra tries, or curies, 
were grouped together, and formed a tribe. 

' Demosthenes, in Eubul. ; in Macart. Isseus, VIII. 18. 
* Dionysius, II. 64. Varro, V. 83. Demosthenes, in Eubul., 

158 THE CITY. BOOK in. 

This new circle also had its religion ; in each tribe 
there were an altar and a protecting divinity. 

The god of the tribe was generally of the same 
nature as that of the phratry, or that of the family. It 
was a man deified, a hero. From him the tribe took 
its name. The Greeks called him the eponymous 
hero. He had his annual festal day. The principal 
part of the religious ceremony was a repast, of which 
the entire tribe partook.' 

The tribe, like the phratry, held assemblies and 
passed decrees, to which all the members were obliged 
to submit. It had a chief, tribunus, cpvloSamieis,' From 
what remains to us of the tribe we see that, originally, 
it was constituted to be an independent society, and as 
if there had been no other socaal power above it. 

' Demosthenes, in Theocrinem. .Slschines, UI. 27. Isseus^ 
VII. 36. FansaiUas, I. 88. ScboU, m Demosth., 70^ In the 
history of the ancients a distinption must be made between the 
religious tribes and the local tribes. We speak here only of 
the first : the second came long afterwards. There were tribes 
everywhere in Greece. Mad, U. 362, 668 ; Odyssey, XIX. 177; 
Herodotus, IV. 161. 

' iEschines, III. 30,31. Aristotle, Frag., cited ^y Photiua, 
V. NavxQaQia. Pollux, VIII. 111. Boeckh, Corp. Tnscr., 82, 85, 
108. Few traces remain of the political and religious organiza- 
tion of the three primitive tribes of Borne. These tribes were 
too considerable bodies for the city not to attempt to weaken 
them and take away their independence. The plebeians, more- 
over, labored to abolish them. 


New Beligious Beliefs. 

1. The Gods of Physical Nature. 

Before passing from the foimation of tribes to the 
establishment of cities, we must mention an important 
element in the intellectual life of those ancient peoples. 

When we sought the most ancient beliefs of these 
men, we found a religion which had their dead ancestors 
for its object, and for its principal symbol the sacred fire. 
It was this religion that founded the family and estab- 
lished the first laws. But this race has also had in all 
its branches another religion — the one whose piincipal 
figures were Zeus, Here, Athene, Juno, that of the 
Hellenic Olympus, and of the Roman Capitol. 

Of these two reUgions, the first found its gods in 
the human soul ; the second took them from physical 
nature. As the sentiment of living power, and of con- 
science, which he felt in himself, inspired man with the 
first idea of the divine, so the view of this immensity, 
which surrounded and overwhelmed him, traced out for 
iis religious sentiment another course. 

Man, in the early ages, was continually in the pres-, 
ence of nature ; the habits of icivilized life did not yet 
draw a line between it and him. His sight was charmed 
by its beauties, or dazzled by its grandeur. He en- 
joyed the light, he was tenified by the night ; and when 
he saw the " holy light of heaven " return, he experi- 
enced a feeling of thankfuLoess. His life was in the 
hands of nature; he looked for the beneficent cloud on 
whitsh his iai-vest dependjed ; he feaued the storm which 


might destroy the labor and hope of all the year. At 
every moment he felt his own feebleness and the 
incomparable power of what surrounded him. He ex- 
perienced perpetually a mingled feeling of veneration, 
love, and terror for this power of nature. 

This sentiment did not conduct him at once to the 
conception of an only God i-uling the universe; for as 
yet he had no idea of the universe. He knew not thnt 
the earth, the sun, and the stars are parts of one same 
body; the thought did not occur to him that they 
might all be ruled by the same being. On first looking 
upon the external world, man pictured it to liimself as 
a sort of confused republic, where rival forces made 
war upon each other. As he judged external objects 
from himself, and felt in himself a free person, he saw 
also in every part of creation, in the soil, in the tree, in 
the cloud, in the water of the river, in the sun, so many 
persons like himself. He endued them with thought, 
volition, and choice of acts. As he thought them pow- 
erful, and was subject to their empire, he avowed his 
dependence; he invoked'them, and adored them; he 
made gods of them. 

Thus in this race the religious idea presented itself 
under two different forms. On the one hand, man 
attached the divine attribute to the invisible principle, 
to the intelligence, to what he perceived of the soul, to 
what of the sacred he felt in himself. On the other 
hand, he applied his ideas of the divine to the external 
object which he saw, which he loved or feared; to 
physical agents that were the masters of his happiness 
and of his life. 

These two orders of belief laid the foundation of two 
religions that lasted as long as Greek and Roman 
society. They did not make war upon each other; 


they even lived on very good terms, and shared the 
empire over man ; but they never became confounded. 
Their dogmas were always entirely distmct, often con- 
tradictory; and their ceremonies and practices were 
absolutely different. The worship of the gods of Olym- 
pus and that of heroes and manes never had anything 
common between them. Which of these two religions 
was the earlier in date no one can tell. It is certain, 
however,that one — that of the dead — having been fixed 
at a very early epoch, always remained unchangeable 
in its practices, while its dogmas faded away little by 
little ; the other — that of physical nature — was more 
progressive, and developed freely from age to age, mod- 
ifying its legends and doctrines by degrees, and con- 
tinually augmenting its authority over men. 

2. Melation of this Mdigion to the Development 
of Human Society, 

We can easily believe that the first rudiments of this 
religion of nature are very ancient, though not so old, 
perhaps, as the worship of ancestors. But as it corre- 
sponded with more general and higher conceptions, it 
required more time to become fixed into a precise doc- 
ti-ine." It is quite certain that it was not brought into 
the world in a day, and that it did not spring in full 
perfection from the brain of man. We find at the 

' Need we recall all the Greek and Italian traditions that 
showed the religion of Jupiter to be a young and relatively re- 
cent religion? Greece and Italy had preserved the recollection 
of a time when social organizations already existed, and when 
this religion was not yet known. Ovid, Fast., II. 2fi9 ; Virg., 
Oeorg., I. 126. ^sch., Eumen. Pausanias, VIII. 8. It 
appears that among the Hindus the IHtris were anterior to the 



origin of this religion neither a prophet nor a body of 
iDriests. It grew up in different rainds by an eifort of 
their natural powers. Each man created it for himself 
m his own fashion. Among all these gods, sprung from 
different minds, there were resemblances, because ideas 
were formed in the minds of men after a nearly uni- 
form manner. But there was also a great variety, 
because each mind was the anthor of its own gods. 
Hence it was that for a long time this religion was con- 
fused, and that its gods were innumerable. 

Still the elements which could be deified were not 
very numerous. The sun which gives fecundity, the 
earth v;hich nourishes, the clouds, by turns beneficent 
and destructive — such were the diflferent powers of 
which they could make gods. But from each one of these 
elements thousands of gods were created ; because the 
same physical agent, viewed under different aspects, 
received from men different names. The sun, for ex- 
ample, was called in one place Hercules (the glorious) ; 
in another, Phoebus (the shining) ; and still again Apollo 
(he who drives away night or evil) ; one called him 
Hyperion (the elevated Being) ; another, Alexicacos 
(the beneficent) ; and in the course of time groups of 
men, who had given these various names to the brilliant 
luminary, no longer saw that they had the same god. 

Indeed, each man adored but a very small number 
of divinities ; but the gods df one were not those of 
another. The names, it is true, might resemble each 
other ; many men might separately have given their god 
the name of Apollo, or of Hercules ; these words belonged 
to the common language, and were merely adjectives,, 
and designated the divine Being by one or another of 
his most prominent attributes. But under this same 
name the different groups of men could not believe that 


there was but one god. They counted thousands of 
different Jupiters ; they had a multitude of Minervas, 
Dianas, and Junos, who resembled each other very lit- 
tle. Each of these conceptions was formed by the free 
operation of each mind, and being in some soj-t its 
property, it happened that these gods were for a long 
time independent of ;each other, and that each one of 
them had his particular legend and his worship.' 

As the first appearance of these beliefs was at a time 
when men still lived under family government, these 
new gods had at first, like the demons, the heroes, and 
the Lares, the character of domestic divinities. Each 
family made gpds for itself, and each kept them for 
itself, as protectors, whose good ofBces it did not wish 
to share with strangers. This thought appears fre- 
quently in the hymns of theVedas; and there is no 
doubt that it was the same in the minds of the Aryas 
of the West; for there are visible traces of it in their 
religion. As soon as a family, by perspnifyipg a phys- 
ical agent, had created, a god, it associated Ijim with its 
saored fire, counted him among itsPen^tes,.and added a 
few words for him in its formula of prayer. This ex^ 
plains why we ojften meet among the ancients with 
expressions like this : The gods who sitnear my hearth ; 
the Jupiter of my hearth ; the, Apollo ' of my fathers.' 
"I conjure you," said Tecmessa to Ajax, "in the name 

' The same name often conceals very different divinities. Po- 
seidon Hippius, Poseiapn phytalraius, tlje Erechtbean Poseidon, 
ihe ^gean Poseidon, the Heliconian Poseidon, were different 
gods, who had neither the same attributes nor the same worship- 

* ^Eariovj^oi, ItpicTioi, TraTQwoi, 'O i,((os Zsijs, Eurip., JTecu- 
ba, 345 : Medea, 395. Sophocles, Ajax, 492. Virgil, VIII. 
643. Herodotus, I.,44. 


of the Jupiter who Bits near your hearth." Medea, the 
enchantress, says, in Euripides, "I swear by Hecate, 
my protecting goddess, whom I venerate, and who in- 
habits this sanctuary of ray hearth." When Virgil 
describes what is oldest in the religion of Rome, he 
shows Hercules associated with the sacred fire of Evan- 
der, and adored by him as a domestic divinity. 

Hence came those thousands of forms of local wor- 
ship among which no nnity could ever be established. 
Hence those contests of the gods of which polytheism 
is full, and which represent struggles of families, can- 
tons, or villages. Hence, too, that innumerable multi- 
tude of gods and goddesses of whom assuredly we know 
but the smallest part; for many have perished without 
even having left their names, simply because the fami- 
lies who adored them became extinct, or the cities that 
had adopted them were destroyed. 

It must have been a long time before these gods left 
the bosom of the families with whom they had origi- 
nated and who I'egarded them as their patrimony. We 
know even that many of them never became disengaged 
from this sort of domestic tie. The Demeter of Elen- 
sis remained the special divinity of the family of the 
Eumolpidas. The Athene of the Acropolis of Athens 
belonged to the family of the Butadae. The Potitii of 
Rome had a Hercules, and the Nautii a Minerva.' It 
appears highly probable that the worship of Venus was 
for a long time limited to the family of the Julii, and 
that this goddess had no public worship at Rome. 

It happened, in the conree of timej the divinity of a 
family having acquired a great prestige over the imagi- 
nations of men, and appearing powerful in proportion 

' Livy, IX. 29. Dionysius, VI. 69. 


to the prosperity of this family, that a whole city wished 
to adopt him, and offer him public worship, to obtain 
his favors. This was the case with the Demeter of the 
Eumolpidse, the Athene of the Butadse,and the Hercu- 
les of the Potitii. But when a family consented thus 
to share its god, it retained at least the priesthood. We 
may remark that the dignity of priest, for each god, 
was during a long time hereditaiy, and could not go 
out of a certain family.' This is a vestige of a time 
when the god himself was the property of this family ; 
when he protected it alone, and would be served only 
by it. 

We are correct, therefore, in saying that this second 
religion was at first in unison with the social condition 
of men. It was cradled in each family, and remained 
long bounded by this narrow horizon. But it lent it- 
self more easily than the worship of the dead to the 
future progress of human association. Indeed, the an- 
cestors, heroes, and manes were gods, who by their 
very nature could be adored only by a very small num- 
ber of men, and who thus established a perpetualand 
impassable line of demarcation between families. The 
religion of the gods of nature was more comprehensive. 
No rigoroxis laws opposed the propagation of the wor- 
ship of any of these gods. There was nothing in their 
nature that required them to be adored by one family 
only, and to repel the stranger. Finally, men must have 
come insensibly to perceive that the Jupiter of one 

' Herodotus, V. 64, 65; IX. 27. Pindar, Isthm., VII. 18. 
Xenophon, Mell., VI. 8. Plato, Laws, p. 759 ; Banquet, p. 40. 
Cicero, De Bivin., I. 41. Tacitus, Ann. II. 54. I'lutarch, The- 
seus, 23. Strabo, IX. 421 ; XIV. 634. Callimachus, Ifymn ta 
Apollo, 8i. Pausanias, I. 37; VI. 17; X. 1. ApoUodorus, Ilf 
\?. Harpooration, v. Evnifai. Boeckh, Corp. Inscript., 134^, 

166 THE CITY. BOOK ni. 

family was really the same being or the same concep- 
tion as the Jupiter of another, which they could never 
believe of two Lares, two ancestors, or two sacred 

Let us add, that the morality of this new religion was 
different. It was not confined to teaching men family 
duties. Jupiter was the god of hospitality ; in his name 
came strangers, suppliants, " the venerable poor," those 
who were to be treated " as brothers." All these gods 
often assumed the human form, and appeared among 
mortals ; sometimes, indeed, to assist in their straggles 
and to take part in theii combats ; often, also, to enjoin 
concord, and to teach thiim to help each other. 

As this second religion continued to develop, socie- 
ty must have enlarged. Now, it is quite evident that 
this religion, feeble at firut, afterwards assumed large 
proportions. In the beginiiing it was, so to speak, shel- 
tered under the protection of its elder sister^ near the 
domestic hearth. Thei'e the god had obtained a small 
place, a narrow cella, near aisd opposite to the venerated 
altar, in order that a little of the respect which men 
had for the sacred fire might be shared by him. Little 
by little, the god, gaining more authority over the soul, 
renounced this sort of guardianship, and left the domes- 
tic hearth. He had a dwelling of his own, and his own 
sacrifices. This dwelling (p^uo;, from vuh)^ to inhabit) 
was, moreover, built after the fashion of the ancient 
sanctuary; it was, as before, & ceUa opposite a hearth; 
but the ceUa was enlarged and embellished, and became 
a temple. The holy fii-e remained at the entrance of 
the god's house, but appeared very small by the side 
of this house. What had at first been the principal, 
had now become only an accessory. It ceased to be a 
god, and descended to the rank of the god's altar, an in- 


strument lor the sacrifice. Its office was to bum the 
flesh of the victim, and to carry the offering with men's 
prayers to the majestic divinity whose statue resided 
in the temple. 

When we see these temples rise and open their doors 
to the multitude of worshippers, we may be assured 
that human associations have become enlarged. 


The City formed. 

The tribe, like the family and the phratry, was es- 
tablished as an independent body, since it had a special 
worship from which the stranger was excluded. Once 
formed, no new family could be admitted to it. No 
more could two tribes be fused into one ; their religion 
was opposed to this. But just as several phratries were 
united in a tribe, several tribes might associate together, 
on condition that the religion of each should be resj*ct- 
ed. The day on which this alliance took place the city 

It is of little account to seek the cause whish deter- 
mined several neighboring tribes to unite. Sometimes' 
it was voluntary ; sometimes it was imposed by the 
superior force of a tribe, or by the powerful will of a 
man. What is certain is, that the bond of the new 
association was still a religion. The tribes that united 
to form a city never failed to light a sacred fire, and to 
adopt a common religion. 

Thus human society, in this race, did not enlarge 
like a circle, which increases on all sides, gaining little 


by little. There were, on the contrary, small groups, 
which, having been long established, were finally joined 
together in larger ones. Several families formed the 
phratry, several phratries the tribe, several tribes the 
city. Family, phratry, tribe, city, were, moreover, soci- 
eties exactly similar to each other, which were formed 
one after the other by a series of federations. 

We must remark, also, that when the different groups 
became thus associated, none of them lost its individu- 
ality, or its independence. Although several families 
were united in a phratry, each one of them remained 
constituted just as it had been when separate. Nothing 
was changed in it, neither worship nor priesthood, nor 
property nor internal justice. Curies afterwards be- 
came associated, but each retained its worship, its as- 
semblies, its festivals, its chief. From the tribe men 
passed to the city; but the tribe was not dissolved on 
that account, and each of them continued to form a 
bo'ly, very much as if the city had not existed. In 
religion there subsisted a multitude of subordinate 
worships, above which was established one common to 
all; in politics, numerous little governments continued 
to act, while above them a common government was 

The city was a confederation. Hence it was obliged, 
at lenst for several centuries, to respect the religions and 
civil independence of the tribes, curies, and families, 
and had not the right, at first, to interfere in the private 
affairs ol" each of these little bodies. It had nothing 
to do in the interior of a family ; it was not the judge 
of what passed there ; it left to the father the right and 
duty of jndging his wife, his son, and his clien-t. It is 
for this reason that private law, which had been fixed 
at the time when families were isolated, could sub- 


sist in the city, and was modified only at a very late 

The mode of founding ancient cities is attested by 
usag'es which continued for a very long time. 

If we examine the army of the city in primitive times, 
we find it distributed into tribes, curies, and families,* 
"in such a way," says one of the ancients, "that the 
warrior has for a neighbor in the combat one with 
whom, in time of peace, he has offered the libation and 
sacrifice at the same altar." If we look at the people 
when assembled, in the early ages of Rome, we see 
them voting by curies and by gentes^ If we look at 
the worship, we see at Rome six Vestals, two for each 
tribe. At Athens, the archon offers the sacrifice in the 
name of the entire city, but he has in the religious 
part of the ceremony as many assistants as there are 

Thus the city was not an assemblage of individuals; 
it was a confederation of several groups, which were 
established befoi'e it, and which it pemutted to remain. 
We see, in the Athenian orators, that every Athenian 
formed a portion of four distinct societies at the same 
time; he was a member of a family, of a phratry, of a 
tribe, and of a city. He did not enter at the same time 
and the same day into all these four, like a Frenchman, 
who at the moment of his birth belongs at once to a 
family, a commune, a department, and a country. The 
phratry and the tribe are not administrative divisions. 
A man enters at different times into these four socie- 
ties, and ascends, so to speak, from one to the other. 
First, the child is admitted into the family by the 

» Homer, Iliad, II. 362. Varro, De lAng. hat., V. 89. 
Isaeus, II. 42. 
» Aulus Gellius, XV. 27. 


religious Ceremony, which takes place six days after 
his birth. Some years later he enters the phratry by 
a, new ceremony, which we have already described. 
Finally, at the age of sixteen or eighteen, he is pre- 
sented for admission into the city. On that day, in 
the presence of an altar, and before the smoking flesh 
of a victim, he pronounces an oath, by which he binds 
hiraselfj among other things, always to respect the re- 
ligion of the city. From that day he is initiated into 
the public worship, and becomes a citizen.' If we 
observe this young Athenian rising, step by step, from 
worship to worship, we have a symbol of the degrees 
through which human association has passed. The 
course which this young man is constrained to follow, 
is that which society first followed. 

Ah example will make this truth clearer. There have 
remained to us in the antiquities of Athens traditions 
and traces enough to enable us to see quite clearly how 
the Athenian city was formed. At first, says Plu- 
tarch, Attica was divided by families.^ Some of these 
families of the primitive period, like the Euraolpidse, 
the CeoropidsB, the Gephyrsei, the Phytalidse, and the 
LakiadSe, were perpetuated to the following ages. At 
that time the city did not exist; but every family, 
surrounded by its younger branches and its clients, 
occupied a canton, and lived there in absolute inde- 
pendence. Each had its own religion ; the Eumo^pidse, 
fixed at Eleusis, adored Demeter ; the Cecropid®, who 
inhabited the rocks where Athens was afterwards built, 
had Psseidon and Athene for protecting divinities. 

• Demosthenes, in Eulid. Isaeus, VII. IX. Lycurgus, I. 
76. Schol., in Demosth^ p. 438. Pollux, VIII. 105. Stob^us, 
De Repub. 

' Kara yirri, Plutarch, Theseus, 24, 13. 


Near by, on the little hill of the Areopagus, the pro- 
tecting god was Ares. At Marathon it was Hercules ; 
at Prasias an Apollo, another Apollo at Phlius, the Dios- 
curi at Cephalusi, and thus of all the other cantons.' 

Every family, as it had its god and its altar, h-ad also 
its chief. When Pausanias visited Attica, he found 
in the little villages ancient traditions which had been 
perpetuated with the worship ; and these traditions 
informed him that every little burgh had had its king 
before the time when Cecrops reigned at Athens. Was 
not this a memorial of a distant age, when the great 
patriarchal families, like the Celtic clans, had each 
its hereditary chief, who was at the same time priest 
atd judge? Some hundred little societies then lived 
isolatfed in the country, recognizing no political or re- 
ligious bond among them, having each its territory, 
often at war, and living so completely separated that 
marriage between them was not always permitted.' 

But their needs or their sentiments brought them 
together. Insensibly they joined in little groups of 
four, five, or six. Thus we find in the traditions that 
the four villages of Marathon united to adore the same 
Delphian Apollo ; the men of the Piraeus, Phalerura, 
and two neighboring burghs, united and built a temple 
to Hercules.' In the course of time these many little 
states were reduced to twelve confederations. This 
change, by which the people passed from the patriarchal 
family state to a society somewhat more extensive, was 
attributed by tradition to the efibrts of Cecrops: we 
are merely to understand by this, that it was not ac- 

■ Pausanias, I. 15 ; 31, 37, II. 18. 

' Plutarch, Theseus, 13. 

' Id., ibid., 14. Pollux, VI. 106. Stephen of Byzantium, 


complished until the time at which they place this per- 
sonage — that is to say, towards the sixteenth century 
before our era. We see, moreover, that this Cecrops 
reigned over only one of these twelve associations, that 
which afterwards became Athens; the other eleven 
were completely independent; each had its tutelary 
deity, its altar, its sacred fire, and its chief.' 

Several centuries passed, during which the Cecrop- 
idse insensibly acquired greater importance. Of this 
period there remains the tradition of a bloody struggle 
sustained by them against the Eumolpidae of Eleusis, 
the result of which was, that the latter submitted, with 
the single reservation that they should preserve the 
hereditary priesthood of their divinity.* There were 
doubtless othei struggles and other conquests, of which 
no memorial has been preserved. The rock of the 
Cecropidse, on which was developed, by degrees, the 
worship of Athene, and which finally adopted the name 
of their principal divinity, acquired the supremacy over 
the other eleven states. Then appeared Theseus, the 
heir of the Cecropidae. All the traditions agree in 
declaring that he united the twelve groups into one 
city. He succeeded, indeed, in bringing all Attica to 
adopt the worship of Athene Polias, so that thenceforth 
the whole country celebrated the sacrifice of the Pa- 
nathenaea in common. Before him, every burgh had its 
sacred fire and its prytany. He wished to make the 
prytany of Athens the religious centre of all Attica.' 
From that time Athenian unity was established. In 

' Philochorus, quoted by Strabo, IX. Thucydides, II. 16. 
Pollux, VIII. 111. 

' Faueanias, I. 3S. 

' Thucydides, II. 15. Plutarch, Theseus, 24. Fausanias, I. 
26; VIII. 2. 


religion every canton preserved its ancient worship, 
but adopted one that was common to all. Politically, 
each preserved its chiefs, its judges, its right of assem- 
bling ; but above all these local governments, there was 
the central government of the city.' 

From these precise memorials and traditions, which 
Athens preserved so religiously, there seem to us to be 
two truths equally manifest : the one is, that the city 
was a confederation of groups that had been established 
before it; and the other is, that society developed only / 

' According to Plutarch and Thucydides, Theseus destroyed 
the local prytanies, and abolished the magistracies of the burghs. 
If he attempted this, he certainly did not succeed: for a long 
while after him we still find the local worships, the assemblies, 
and the kings of tribes. Boeckh, Corp. Inscrip., 82, 85. De- 
mosthenes, in Theocrinem. Pollux, VIII. 111. We put aside 
the legend of Ion, to which several modern historians seem to us 
to have given too much importance, by presenting it as an indi- 
cation of a foreign invasion of Attica. This invasion is indicated 
by no tradition. If Attica had been conquered by these lonians 
of the Peloponnesus, it is not probable that the Athenians would 
have so religiously preserved their names of Cecropidse, and 
Brechtbeidae, and that they would have been ashamed of the 
name of lonians. (Hdts, I. 143.) We can also reply to those 
who believe in this invasion, and that the nobility of the Eupa- 
trids is due to it, that most of the great families of Athens go 
back to a date much earlier than that given for the arrival of Ion 
in Attica. The Athenians certainly belong to the Ionic branch 
of the Hellenic race. Strabo tells us that, in the earliest times, 
Attica was called Ionia and las. But it is a mistake to make 
the son of Xuthus, the legendary hero of Euripides, the parent 
stock of these lonians ; they are long anterior to Ion, and their 
name is perhaps much more ancient than that of Hellenes. It 
is wrong to make all the Eupatrids descendants of this Ion, and 
to present this diss of men as conquerors who oppressed a 
conquered people. There is no ancient testimony to support 
this opinion. 


174 THE CITT. BOOK lit, 

80 fast as religion enlarged its sphere. We cannot, 
indeed, say that religions progress brought social prog- 
ress ; but what is certain is, that they were both pro- 
duced at the same time, and in remarkable accord. 

We should not lose sight of the excessive difficulty 
which, in primitive times, opposed the foundation of 
regular societies. The social tie was not easy to es- 
tablish between those human beings who were so 
diverse, so free, so inconstant. To bring them under 
the rules of a community, to institute commandments 
and insure obedience, to cause passion to give way to 
reason, and individual right: to public right, there cer- 
tainly was something necessary, stronger than material 
force, more respectable than interest, surer than a 
philosophical theory, more unchangeable than a con- 
vention; something that should dwell equally in all 
hearts, and should be allrpowerful there. 

This power was a belief. Nothing has more power 
over the soul. A belief is the work of our mind, but 
we are not on that account free to modify it at will. 
It is our own creation, but we do not know it. It is 
human, and we believe it a god. It is the effect of our 
power, and is stronger than we are. It is in us; it 
does not quit us: it speaks to us at every moment. 
If it tells us to obey, we obey ; if it traces duties for us, 
we submit. Man may, indeed, subdue nature, but he 
is subdued by his. own thoughts. 

Now, an ancient belief commanded a man to honor his 
ancestor; the worship of the ancestor grouped a family 
around an altar. Thus arose the first religion, the first 
prayers, the first ideas of duty, and of morals. Thus, 
too, was the right of property established, and the order 
of succession fixed. Thus, in fine, arose all private law, 
and all the rules of domestic organization. Later the 


belief grew, and human society grew af the same time. 
When men begin to perceive that there are common 
divinities for them, they unite in larger groups. The 
same rules, invented and established for the family, 
are applied successively to the phratry, the tribe, and 
the city. 

Let us take in at a glance the road over which man 
has passed. In the beginning the family lived isolated, 
and man knew only the domestic gods — deal nm^iSai, 
dii gentiles. Above the family was formed the phra- 
try with its god — deo; cpgdrgtog, Juno curialis. Then 
came the tribe, and the god of the tribe — 6e6s tpihos. 
Finally came the city, and men conceived a god whose 
providence embraced .this entire dAy—r.deb? nokmis,pe- 
nates publici; a hierarchy of creeds, and a hierarchy 
of association. The religious idea was,, among the 
ancients, the inspiring breath and organizer of society. 

The ti-aditions of the Hindus,cof the Greeks, and of 
the Etruscans, relate that the gods, revealed social laws 
to man. Under this legendary form there is . a truth. 
Social laws were the work of the gods.; bat those gods, 
so powerful and benefixjent, were nothing else than the 
beliefs of men. 

Such was the origin of cities among the ; ancients. 
This study was necessary to Lgive us a. correct idea of 
the nature and institutions of the city. , B.ut here we 
must make a reservation. If the first cities were formed 
of a confederation of. little, societies previously estab- 
lished, this is not saying that all the cities known to us 
were formed in the same manner. The municipal organ- 
ization once discovered, it was not necessary for each 
new city to pass over the same long and difficult route. 
It might often happen that they followed the inverse 
order. When a chief, quitting a city already organized. 


went to found another, he took with him commonly 
only a small number of his fellow-citizens. He associ- 
ated with them a multitude of other men who came 
from different parts, and might even belong to different 
races. But this chief never failed to organize the new 
state after the model of the one he had just quitted. 
Consequently he divided his people into tribes and 
phratries. Each of these little associations had an altar, 
sacrifices, and festivals; each even invented an ancient 
hero, whom it honored with its worehip, and fi-om 
whom, with the lapse of time, it believed itself to have 
been descended. 

It often happened, too, that the men of some country 
lived without laws and without order, either because 
no one had ever been able to establish a social organiza- 
tion there, as in Ai'cadia, or because it had been cor- 
rupted and dissolved by too rapid revolutions, as at 
Cyrene and Thnrii. If a legislator undertook to estab- 
lish order among these men, he never failed to com- 
mence by dividing them into tribes and phratries, as if 
this were the only type of society. In each of these 
organizations he named an eponymous hero, established 
sacrifices, and inaugurated traditions. This was always 
the manner of commencing, if he wished to found a 
regular society.' Thus Plato did when he imagined 
a model city. 

' Herodotus, IV. 161. Cf. Plato, Lavss, V. 738; VI. 771. 


The City. 

CiviTAS, and Uebs, either of which we translate by 
the word city., were not synonymous words among the 
ancients. Givitas was the religious and political associ- 
ation of families and tribes ; Urhs was the place of 
assembly, the dwelling-place, and, above all, the sanc- 
tuary of this association. 

We are not to picture ancient cities to oursejlves as 
anything like what we see in our day. We build a 
few houses ; it is a village. Insensibly the number of 
houses increases, and it becomes a city, and finally, if 
there is occasion for it, we surround this with a wall. 

With the ' ancients, a city was never formed by de- 
grees, by the slow increase of the number of men and {t, 
houses. They founded a city at once, all entire in a 
day ; but the elements of the city needed to be first 
ready, and this was the most difficult, and ordinarily the 
largest work. As soon as the families, the phratries, 
and the tribes had agreed to unite and have the same 
worship, they immediately founded the city as a sanc- 
tuary for this common worship, and thus the foundation 
of a city was always a religious act. 

As a first example, we will take Rome itself, not- 
withstanding the doubt that is attached to its early 
history. It has often been said that Romulus was chief 
of a band of adventurers, and that he formed a people 
by calling around liim vagabonds and robbers, and that 
all these men, collected without disiinctioii, built at 
hazard a few huts to shelter their booty; but ancient 

178 THE CITT. BOOK ni. 

writers present the facts in quite another shape, and it 
seems to us that if we desire to understand antiquity, 
our first rule should be to support ourselves upon the 
evidence that comes from the ancients. Those writers 
do, indeed, mention an asylum — that is to say, a saci-ed 
enclosure, where Romulus admitted all who presented 
themselves ; and in this he followed the example which 
many founders of cities had afforded him. But this 
asylum was not the city ; it was not even opened till 
after the city had been founded and completely built. 
It was an appendage added to Rome, but was not 
Rome. It did not even form a part of the city of 
Romulus ; for it was situated at the foot of the Capi- 
toline hill, whilst the city occupied the Palatine. It is 
of the first importance to distinguish the double ele- 
ment of the Roman population. In the asylum are 
adventurers without land or religion ; on the Palatine 
are men from Alba — that is to say, men already 
organized into a society, distributed into gentes and 
curies, having a domestic worship and laws. The asy- 
lum is merely a hamlet or suburb, where the huts are 
built at hazard, and without rule ; on the Palatine rises 
a city, religions and holy. 

As to the manner in which this city was founded, 
antiquity abounds in information; we find it in Dio- 
nysius of Halicarnassus, who collected it from authore 
older than his time; we find it in Plutarch, in the 
Fasti of Ovid, in Tacitus, in Cato the Elder, who had 
consulted the ancient annals ; and in two other writers 
who ought above all to inspire us with great con- 
fidence, the learned Varro and the learned Verrius 
Flaccus, whom Festus has presei-ved in pai-t for us, 
both men deeply versed in Roman antiquities, lovers 
oi truth, in no wise credulous, and well acquainted with 


the rules of histdiical criticism. All the^-ie writers 
have transmitted to us the tradition of the religious 
ceremony which marked the foundation of Rome, and 
we are not prepared to reject so great a number of 

It is not a rare thing for the ancients to relate facts 
that surprise us; but is this a reason why we should 
pronounce them fables ? above all, if these facts, though 
not in accord with modern ideas, agree perfectly with 
those of the ancients ? We have seen in their private 
life a religion which regulated all their acts ; later, we 
saw that this religion established them in communities : 
why does it astonish us, after this, that the foundation 
of a city was a sacred act, and that Romulus himself 
was obliged to perform rites which were observed 
everywhere? The first care of the founder was to 
choose the site for the new city. But this choice — » 
weighty question, on which they believed the destiny 
of the people depended — was always left to the decis- 
ion of the gods. If Romulus had been a Greek, he 
would have consulted the oracle of Delphi; if a Sam- 
nite, he would have' followed the sacred animal — the 
-wolf, or the green woodpecker. Being a Latin, and a 
neighbor of the Etruscans, initiated into the augurial 
science," he asks the gods to reveal their will to him 
by the flight of birds. The gods point out the Pal- 

The day for the foundation having arrived, he first 
ofiers a sacrifice. His companions are ranged around 
him ; they light a fire of brushwood, and each one leaps 
through the flame.' The explanation of this rite is, 

Cicero, De Divin., I. 17. Plutarch. CamiUus, 32. Pliny, 
XIV. 2; XVIII. 12. 
* Dionysius, I. 88. 

180 THE CUT. BOOK lH. 

that for the act about to take place, it is necessary that 
the people be pure; and the ancients believe4 they 
could purify themselves from all stain, physical or moral, 
by leaping through a sacred flame. 

When this preliminary ceremony had prepared the 
people for the grand act of the foundation, Romulus 
dug a small trench, of a circular form, and threw into it 
a clod of earth, which he had brought from the city of 
Alba.' Then each of his companions, approaching by 
turns, following his example, threw in a little earth, 
which he had brought from the country from which he 
had come. This rite is remarkable, and reveals to us a 
notion of the ancients to which we must call attention. 
Before coming to the Palatine, they had lived in Alba, 
or some other neighboring city. There was their sacred 
fire; there their fathers had lived and been buried. 
Now, their religion forbade them to quit the land 
where the hearth had been established,. and where their 
divine ancestors reposed. It was necessary, then, in 
order to be free from all impiety, that each of these 
men should employ a fiction, and that he should cany 
with him, under the symbol of a clod of earth, the sacred 
soil where his ancestors were buried, and to which their, 
manes were attached. A man could not quit his dwell- 
ing-place without taking with him his soil and his 
ancestors. This rite had to be accomplished, so that 
he might say, pointing out the new place which he had 
adopted. This is still the land qf my fathers, terra par 
trum, patria,' here is my countiy, for here are the 
manes of my family. 

The trench into which each one had thrown a little 
earth was called mundus. Now, this word designated in 

■ Plutarch, Romulus, 11. Dion Cassius, Fragm., 12. Ovid, 
FasH, IV. 821. Festus, v. Quadrata. 

CHAP. IV. THE ClTT. 181 

the ancient language, the region of the manes." From 
this place, according to tradition, the souls of the dead 
escaped three times a year, desirous of again Seeing the 
light for a moment. Do we not see also, in this tra- 
ditioti, the real thought of these ancicint men ? When 
placing in the trench a clod of earth from their foimei' 
country, thoy believed tliey had enclosed there the 
souls of their ancestors. These souls, reunited there, 
required a perpetual worship, and kept guard over their 
descendants. At this same place Romulus set up an 
altar, and lighted a fire upon it. This was the holy 
flre of the city." 

Arouiid this hearth arose the city, as the house rise^ 
around the domestic hearth ; Romulus traced a furrow 
which marked the enclosure. Here, too, the smallest 
details were fixed by a ritual. The founder made use 
of a copper ploughshare; his plough was drawn by a 
white bull and a white cow. Romulus, With his head 
veiled, and in the priestly robes, hiiiiself held tho 
handle of the plough and directed it, while chanting 
prayers. His companions followed him, observing a 
religious silence. As the plough turned up clods of 
earth, they carefully threw them within the enclosure, 
that no particle of this sacred earth should be on the 
side of the stranger.' This enclosurei traced by re- 
ligion, was inviolable. Neither stranger nor citizen had 

' Festus,. V. Mwndns. Serrius, ad ^n., III. 134. PlutSrcli, 
Romulus, 11. 

' Ovid, ibid. Later the liearth was removed. When the 
three cities, the i'alatine, the Capitoline, and the Quirinal were 
united in one, the common hearth, or temple of Vesta, was 
placed on neutral ground between the three hills. 

' Plutarch, Romulus, 11. Ovid, Ibidem. Varro, De Ling. Lot., 
V. 143. Festus, v. Primigienius \ v. Urvat. Virgil, V. 755. 


the right to cross over it. To leap over this little 
furrow was an impious act; it is a Roman tradition 
that the founder's brother committed this act of sac- 
rilege, and paid for it with his life.' 

But, in order that men might enter and leave the 
city, the furrow was interrupted in certain places.' To 
accomplish this, Romulus raised the plough and carried 
it over ; these intervals were called portce ; these were 
the gates of the city. 

Upon the sacred furrow, or a little inside of it, the 
walls afterwards arose ; they also were sacred.' No one 
could touch them, even to repair them, without per- 
mission from the pontiffs. On both sides of this wall 
a space, a few paces wide, was given up to religion, and 
was called the pomoeriwm ; " on this space no plough 
could be used, no building constructed. 

Such, according to a multitude of ancient witnesses, 
was the ceremony of the foundation of Rome. If it is 
nsked how this information was preserved down to the 
writers who have transmitted it to us, the answer is, 
that the ceremony was recalled to the memory of the 
people every year by an anniversary festival, which 
they called the birthday of Rome. This festival was 
celebrated through all antiquity, from year to year, and 
the Roman people still celebrate it to-day, at the same 
date as formerly — the 21st of April. So faithful are 
men to old usages through incessant changes.- 

We cannot reasonably suppose that such rites were 
observed for the first time by Romulus. It is certain, 
on the contrary, that many cities, before Rome, had 

' See Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 27. 

" Cato, in Servius, V. 755. 

" Cicero, De Nat. Deor., III. 40. Digest, 8, 8. Gains, II. 8. 

• Varro, V. 143. Livy, I. 44. Aulas Gellius, XIII. 14. 


been founded in the same manner. According to 
Varro, these rites were common to Latium and to 
Etriuva. Cato the Elder, who, in order to write his 
Origines, had consulted the annals of all the Italian 
nations, informs us that analogous rites were practised 
by all founders of cities. The Etruscans possessed 
liturgical books in which were recorded the complete 
ritual of these ceremonies.' 

The Greeks, like the Italians, believed that the site 
of a city should be chosen and revealed by the divinity. 
So, when they wished to found one, they consulted the 
oracle at Delphi.* Herodotus records, as an act of im- 
piety or madness, that the Spartan Dorieus dared to 
build a city " without consulting the oracle, and with- 
out observing any of the customary usages ; " and the 
pious historian is not surprised that a city thus con- 
structed in despite of the rules lasted only three years.'' 
Thucydides, recalling the day when Sparta was founded,' 
mentions the pious chants, and the sacrifices of that 
day. The same historian tells us that the Athenians 
had a particular ritual, and that they never founded a 
colony without conforming to it.* We may see in a 
comedy of Aristophanes a suflSciently exact picture of 
the ceremony practised in stich cases. When the poet 
represented the amusing foundation of the city of thu 
birds, he certainly had in mind the customs which were 
observed in the foundation of the cities of men. Now 
ho puts upon the scene a priest who lighted a fire while 
invoking the gods, a poet who sang hymns, and a 
divine who recited oracles. 

' Cato, in Servius, 'V. 765. Varro, L, L., V. 143. . Festus, 
V. EUvales. 
» DioUorus, XII. 12; Pausanias, VII. 2. Athenaeus, VIII. 02. 
=• Herodotus, V. 42. * Thucydides, V. 16; III. 24. 


Pausatiias travelled in Greece about Adrian's time. 
In Messenia he had the priests desci:iibe to lum the 
foundation of the city of Messene, and he has trans- 
mitted this account to us.' This event was not very- 
ancient; it took place in' the time of Epaminondas. 
Three centuries before, the Messenians had been driven 
from their country, and since that time they had lived 
dispersed among the other Greeks, without a country, 
but preserving their customs and their national religion 
with pious care. The Thebans wished) to restore them 
to Peloponnesus^ in order to place an enemy on the 
flank of the Spartans ; but the most difficult thing was 
to persuade the Messenians. Epaminondas, having 
superstitious men to deal with,. thought it his duty to 
circulate an oracle predicting for this people a return 
to their former country. Miraculous apparitions proved 
to them that their gods, who. had betrayed them at 
the time of the conquest, had again become favorable. 
This timid people then decided to return to the Pelo- 
ponnesus in the train of a Theban army. But the 
question was, where a city should be built ; for it would 
not do to think of re-occupying the old cities of the 
countiy : they had been soiled by the conquest. To 
choose the place where they should establish them- 
selves, they could not have recourae to the Delphian 
oracle, for at this time the Pythia was favorable to the 
Spartans. Fortunately, the gods had other methods 
of revealing their will. A Messeuian priest had a 
dream, in which one of the gods of his nation appeared 
and directed him to take his station on Mount Ithome, 
and invite the people to follow him there. The site of 
the new city was thus indicated, but it was still neces- 

' Fausanias, IV. 27. 


Sary to know the rites to be performed at the founda- 
tion, for the Messenians had forgotten them. They 
could not adopt those of the Thebans, or of any other 
people ; and so they did not know how to build the 
city. A dream, however, came very opportunely to 
another Messenian ; the gods commanded him to ascend 
Mount Ithome, and find a yew tree that stood near a 
myrtle, and to dig into the earth in that place. He 
obeyed, and discovered an urn, and in this urn were 
leaves of tin, on which was found engraved the com- 
plete ritual of the saci'ed ceremony. The priests 
immediately copied it, and inscribed it in their books. 
They did not doubt that the urn had been deposited 
there by an ancient king of the Messenians, before the 
conquest of.the country. 

As soon as they were in possessioti of the ritual the 
foundation commenced. First, the priests offered a 
sacrifice ; they invoked the ancient gods of the Messe- 
nians, the Dioscuri), the Jupiter of Ithome, and the 
ancient heroes, ancestors known and venerated. All 
these protectors of the country had apparently quitted 
it, according to the belief of the ancients, on the day 
when the enemy became masters of it. They were en- 
ti;eated to return. Formulas were pronounced, which, 
it was believed, would determine them to inhabit th^ 
new city in common with the citizens. This was the 
great object j to fix the residence of the gods with 
themselves was what these men bad the most at heart, 
and we may be sure that the religious ceremony had 
no other aim. Just as the companions of Romulus 
dog a trench and thought to bury the manes of their 
ancestors there, so the contemporaries of Epaminondas 
called to themselves their heroes, their divine ancestors, 
and the gods of their country.. They thought that 


by rites and formulas they could attach these sacred 
beings to the soil which they themselves were going to 
occupy, and could shut them up within the enclosure 
which themselves were about to trace, and they said 
to them, "Come with us, O divine kings, and dwell 
with us in this city." The fiist day was occupied with 
these sacrifices and these prayers. The next day the 
boundaries were traced, whilst the people sang religious 

We are surprised, at first, when we see in the an- 
cient authors that there was no city, however ancient 
it might be, which did not pretend to know the name 
of its founder and the date of its foundation. This is 
because a city could not lose the recollection of the 
sacred ceremony which Iiad marked its birth. For 
every year it celebrated the anniversary of this birth- 
day with a sacrifice. Athens, as well as Rome, cele- 
brated its birthday. 

It often happened that colonists or conquerors estab- 
lished themselves in a city already built. They had 
not to build houses, for nothing opposed their occupy- 
ing those of the vanquished ; but they had to perform 
the ceremony of foundation — that is, to establish their 
sacred fires, and to fix their national gods in their new 
home. This explains the statements of Thucydides and 
Herodotus that the Dorians founded Lacediemon, and 
the lonians Miletus, though these two tribes found Lace- 
dsBmon and Miletus built and already very ancient. 

These usages show clearly what a city was in the 
opinion of the ancients. Surrounded by a sacred en- 
closure, and extending around an altar, it was the reli- 
gious abode of gods and citizens. Livy said of Rome, 
"There is not a place in this city which is not impreg- 
nated with religion, and which is not occupied by some 


divinity. The gods inhabit it." What Livy said of 
Rome any man might say of his own city; for if it had 
been founded according to the rites, it had received 
within its walls protecting gods who were, as we may 
say, implanted in its soil, and could never quit it. 
Every city was a sanctuary ; every city might be called 

As the gods were attached to a city forever, so the 
people could never again abandon a place where their 
gods were established. In this respect there was a 
reciprocal engagement, a sort of contract between gods 
and men. At one time tlie tribunes of the people pro- 
posed, as Rome, devastated by the Gauls, was no longer 
anything but a heap of ruins, and as, five leagues dis- 
tant, there was a city all built, large, beautiful, well 
situated, and without inhabitants, — since the Romans 
had conquered it, — that the people should abandon 
the ruins of Rome, and remove to Vcii. But the pious 
Camillus i-eplied, "Our city was religiously founded ; 
the gods themselves pointed out the place, and took 
up their abode here with our fathers. Ruined as it is, 
it still remains the dwelling of our national gods." 
And the Romans remained at Rome. 

Something sacred and divine was naturally associated 
with these cities which the gods had founded," and 
which they continued to fill with their presence. We 
know that Roman traditions promised that Rome 
should be eternal. Every city had similar traditions. 
The ancients built all their cities to be eternal. 

' 'JXiog "qri, fjgai 'A&^iqai (Aristoph., Knights, 1819). Jaxt- 
Swuiri ii'ij (Theognis, v. 837) j "tgav niXir, says Theognis, speak- 
ing of Megara. 

" ^epttinia Troja, StoSfHixoL 'A&iivai. See Tlieognis, 755. 

188 THE CITY. BOOK ni. 

Worship of the Founder. The Legend of ^neas. 

The founder .was the man who accomplished the 
religious act without which a city could not exist. 
He estaWished the hearth where the sacred fire was 
eternally to burn. He it was, who, by his prayers and 
his rites, called the gods, and fixed them forever in 
the new city. 

We can understand how' much respect would be felt 
for this holy man. During his life men saw in him the 
author of a religion and the father of a city ; after death 
he became a common ancestor for all the generations 
that succeeded him. He was for the city what the 
first ancestor was for the family ^^ a Laf famiUaris. 
His memory was- perpetuated like the hearth-fire which 
he had lighted. Men established a worship for him, and 
believed him to be a god ; and the city adored him as 
its providence. Sacrifices and festivals were renewed 
every year over his tomb.' 

It is well known that Romulus was worshipped, and 
that he had a temple and priests. The senators might, 
indeed, take his life; but they could not deprive him 
of the worship to which he had a right as the founder' 
of a city. In the same manner every city worshipped 
the one who had founded' it. Ceei'ops and Theseus, 
who were regarded as having been successive founders 
of Athens, had temples there. Abdera offered sao- 

' Pindar, P2/«?i., V. 129. OZymi.., VII. 145. Cicerb, 7)e iVof. 
Beor., III. 19. Catullus, VII. 6. 


rifices to its founder, Tiinesius, Thera to Theras, Tene- 
dos to Tenes, Delps to Anius, Cyrene to Battus, Miletus 
to Naleus, AtBphipolis to Haguon. In the time of 
I'isistratvis, one Miltiades went to found a colony in the 
Thraeian Ohersonesus ; this colony instituted a worship 
for him after his death, "according to the ordinary 
usage." Hiero of Syracuse, having founded the town 
of ^tna, enjoyed there, in the course of time, "the 
•worship due to founders of cities." ' 

A city had nothing more at heart than the memory 
of its foundation. When Pausanias visited Greece, 
ip the second century of our era, every city could tell 
him the name of its founder, with his genealogy and 
the principal facts of his life. This name and these 
facts could not escape the memory, for they were a 
part of the religion, and were recalled every year in 
the sacred ceremonies. 

The memory of a great number of Greek poems has 
been preserved, whose subject was the foundation of 
a city. Philochorus sang that of Salamis, Ion that of 
Chios, Crito that of Syracuse, Zopyrus that of Miletus; 
and Apollonins, Hermogenes, Hellanicns, and Diooles 
composed poems or histories on the same subject. 
There was not, perhaps, a single city that had not its 
poem, or at least its hymn, on the sacred act that had 
given it birth. 

Among all these ancient poems which had the sacred 
foundation of a city for their theme, there is one that 
has not been allowed to perish, because its subject ren- 
dered it dear to a city, apd its beauties have rendered 

' Herodotus, I. 168; VI. 38. Pindar, Pj^iA., IV. Thucyd- 
ifles, V. 11. Strsbo, XIV. 1. ¥l\i.t3,Tcl\, Qt-. Quest., 20. Pau- 
sfoam,!. 3i; HI. 1. Piodorus, XJ. 78. 


it precious to all nations and all ages. We know that 
^neas founded Lavinium, whence sprang the Albans 
and the Romans, and that, consequently, he was re- 
garded as the first founder of Rome. There had been 
clustei'ed about him a multitude of traditions, which 
we find already recorded in the verses of old Naevius, 
and in the histories of Cato the Elder, when Virgil 
seized upon this subject and wrote the national poem 
of the Roman city. 

The arrival of jEneas, or rather the removal of the 
gods of Troy into Italy, is the subject of the .^neid. 
The poem sings this man, who traversed the seas to 
found a city and transport his gods to Latium : — 

" Dum conderet urbem 
Inferretque Deos Latio." 

We must not judge the ^neid after our modern ideas. 
Men often complain at not finding in ^neas bravery, 
dash, passion. They tire of that epithet of pious which 
is continually repeated. They are astonished to see 
this warrior consulting his Penates with a care so scru- 
pulous, invoking some divinity at every new turn of 
affairs, raising his arms to heaven when he ought to be 
fighting, allowing himself to be tossed over all seas by 
the oracles, and shedding tears at the sight of danger. 
Nor do they fail to reproach him with coldness to- 
wards Dido; and they are tempted to say, with the 
unhappy queen, — 

" Nullis ille movetur 
JFletibus, aut voces uUas tractabilis audit." 

But this is because there is no place here for a 
warrior, or a hero of romance. The poet wishes to 
represent a priest, ^neas is the chief of a worship, a 


holy man, the divine founder, whose mission is to save 
the Penates of the city. 

" Sum pius ^neas, raptos qui ex lioste Penates 
Classe veho mecum." 

His dominant quality ought to he piety, and the 
epithet which the poet oftenest applies to him is that 
which hecomes him best. His virtue ought to be a 
cold and lofty impersonality, making of him, not a man, 
but an instrument of the gods. Why should we look 
for passion in him ? He has no right to the passions ; 
or, at any rate, he should confine them in the depths 
of his heart. 

" Multa gemens multoque animum labefactus amore, 
Jussa tamen Divum insequitur." 

Already, in Homer, ^neas was a holy personage, a 
high priest, whom the people venerated as a god, and 
whom Jupiter preferred to Hector. In Virgil he is 
the guardian and savior of the Trojan gods. During 
the night that completed the ruiu of the city. Hector 
appeared to him in a dream, and said to him, " Troy 
confides its gods to thee ; search out a new city for 
them." At the same time he committed to him the 
sacred things, the protecting statues, and the sacred fire 
that was never to be extinguished. This dream is not 
simply an ornament placed there by the fancy of the 
poet. It is, on the contrary, the foundation on which 
the entire poem rests ; for it is through this that ^neas 
becomes the depositary of the city gods, and that his 
holy mission is revealed to him. 

The urhs of the Trojans, the material part of Troy, has 
perished, but not the Trojan civitas ; thanks to -lEneas, 
the sacred fire is not extinguished, and the gods 
have still a worship. The city and the gods are with 

192 THE CITY. BOOK m. 

^neas; they cross the seas, and seek a country where 
^ it is permitted them to stop. 

" Considere Teucros 
Errantesque Deos agitataque numina Trojae." 

^neas seeks a fixed home, small though it be, for 
his paternal gods, — 

' Dis sedem exiguam patriis." 

JBut the choice of this home, to which the destiny of 
the city shall be forever bound, does not depend upon 
men ; it belongs to the gods. .^Eneas consults the priest 
and interrogates the oracles. He does not himself 
determine his route or his object; he is directed by 
the divinity: — 

" Italiam non sponte sequor." 

He would have staid in Thrace, in Crete, in Sicily, 
at Carthage with Dido : F^ia obstant. Between liim 
and his desire of rest, between liim and his love, 
there always comes the will of the gods, the revealed 
word — fata. 

We must not deceive ourselves in this: the real 
hero of the poem is not ^neas; the gods of Troy 
take the place of a hero ; the same gods that, one day, 
are to be those of Rome. The subject of the ^neid 
is the struggle of the Roman gods against a hostile 
divinity. Obstacles of every kind are placed in their 

" Tantse molis erat Bomanam condere gentem ! ' 

The tempest conies near ingulfing them, the love of 
a woman almost enslaves them ; but they triumph over 
everything, and arrive at the object sought. 

" Fata yiam inveniunt." 


Things like these would interest the Romans to a 
wonderful degree. In this poem they saw themselves, 
their founder, their city, their institutions, their religion, 
their empire. For without those gods the Roman city 
would not have existed.' 

The Gods of the City 

We must not lose sight of the fact that, among the 
ancients, what formed the bond of every society was a 
worship. Just as a domestic altar held this members of 
a family grouped around it, so the city was the collec- 
tive group of those who had the same protecting 
deities, and who performed the religious ceremony at 
the same altar. 

TMs city altar was enclosed within a building which 
the Greeks called prytaneum, and which the Romans 
Dalled temple of Vesta.' 

' We need not inquire here if the legend of Xneas repre- 
sents a real fact^ thatit was believed is enough for us. It shows 
as how the ancients looked upon the founder of a city, what idea 
Jhey had of a, penatigcr ; and for us this is the important point. 
We may add, that several cities in Thrace, in Crete, in Epirus, 
at Cjthera, at Zacynthus, in Sicily, and in Italy looked upon 
MaQSA as their founder, and worshipped him as such.- 

' The prytaneum contained the common hearth of the city : 
Dion of Halioarnasssus, II. 23. Pollux, I. 7. Soholiastof Tindar, 
Nem., XI. Scholiast of Thucydides, II. 15. There was a pryta- 
neum in every Greek city : Herodotus, III. 57 ; V. C7 ; VII. 
197. Polyb., XXIX. 5. A\)^\s,-a, Miihridatic War,2Z; Punic 
War, 84. Diodorus, XX. 101. Cicero, De Signis, 513. Dio- 


• There was nothing more eacved within the city than 
this altar, on which the sacred fii'e was always main- 

This great veneration, it is trne, became weakened 
in Greece, at a very early date, because the Greek im- 
agination allowed itself to be turned aside by more 
splendid temples, richer legends, and more beautiful 
statues. But it never became enfeebled at Rome. 
The Romans never abandoned the conviction that the 
destiny of the city was connected with this fire which 
represented their gods. The respect which they had 
for their vestals proves the importance of their priest- 
hood. If a consul met one of them, he ordered his 
fasces to be lowered before her. On the other hand, 
if one of them allowed the fire to go out, or sullied the 
worship by failing in her duty of chastity, the city, which 
then believed itself threatened with the loss of its gods, 
took vengeance upon iier by burying her alive. 

One day the temple of Vesta came near being burned 
in a conflagration of the surrounding houses. Rome 
was in consternation, for it felt all its future to be in 
peril. When the danger had passed, the senate in- 
structed the consul to search out the authors of the 
fire, and the consul made accusations against several 
inhabitants of Capua, who happened at that time to be 
in Rome. This was not because lie had any proof 
against them, but he reasoned in this manner: "A 
conflagration has threatened the heartli of our city; 
this conflagration, which might have destroyed our 

nysius, II. 65. Pausanias, I. 42 ; V. 25 ; VIII. 9. Athenaeus, I. 
58; X. 24. Boeckh, Corp. Inscr., 1193. At Eome the temple 
of Vesta was nothing more than a hearth. Cicero, De Legib., 
II. 8; II. 12. Ovid, Fasi., VI. 297. Florus, I. 2. Livy, 
XXVllI. 31. 

CHAP. VI, thj: gods of the city. 15)5 

grandeur and stopped our progress, could have been- 
started only by the hands of our most cruel enemies. 
Now, we have no more determined enemies than the 
inhabitanta of Capun, this city whicih is now the ally of 
Hannibal, and which aspires to take our place as the 
capital of Italy. These, therefore, are the men who 
have attempted to destroy our temple of Vesta, our 
eternal fire, this gage and guarantee of our future 
grandeur." ' Thus a consul, under the influence of his 
religious ideas, believed that the enemies of Rome could 
find no surer means of conquering it than by destroying 
its sacred hearth. Here we see the belief of the an- 
cients; the public fire was the sanctuary of the city, 
the cause of its being, and its constant preserver. 

Just as the worship of the domestic hearth was secret, 
and the family alone had the right to take part in it, 
so the wbrship of the public fire was concealed from 
strangers. No one, unless he were a citizen, could take 
part at a sacrifice. Even the look of a stranger sullied 
the religious act.' 
>'''"~tevery city had gods who belonged to it alono. 
/ These gods were generally of the same nature as those '''' 
f of the primitive religion of families. They were called 
Lares, Penates, Genii, Demons, Heroes r» under all 
these names were human souls deified. For we have 
seen that, in the Indo-European race, man had at first 
worshipped the invisible and immortal power which he 
felt in himself. These genii, or heroes, were, more gen- 
erally, the ancestors of the people.* }, 

' Livy, XXVI. 27. 

' Virgil, III. 408. Pausanias, V. 15. Appian, Oivil Wwis, 
\. 64. 
» Ovid, Fast., II. 616. 
* Plutarch, Aristides, 11. 

196 THE CITY. BOOK m. 

The bodies were buried eitier in the city itself or 
upon its tei-ritory; and as, according to the belief which 
w6 have already described, the soul did not quit the 
body, it followed that these divine dfead were attached 
to the soil where their bodies were buried. From, their 
gi-aves they watched over the city; they protected the 
country, and were, in some sort, its chiefs and mastersi 
This expression of chiefs of the country, applied' to the 
dead, is found in an ol'acle addressed by the Pythia to 
Solon : " Honor with a worship the chiefs of the coun- 
try, the dead who live under the earth " ' These 
notions came from the very great power which the 
ancient generations attributed to the human soul after 
death. Every man who had rendered a gj-eat service 
to the city, from the one -frho had founded it to the one 
who had given it a victory, or had improved its laws, 
became a god for that dity. It was not even necessary 
for one to have been a great man or a benefiictor ; it 
was enough to have struck the imagination of his con- 
temporaries, and to have rendered himself Uie subject 
of a popular tradition, to become a hero — that is to 
say, one of the powerful dead, whose pi-ot^tion was to 
be desired and whose anger was to be ftsai*d'. The 
Thebans continued during ten centuries to offer sac- 
rifices to Eteoclies and Polynices. The inhabitants of 
Acanthus worshipped a Persian who had died among 
them during the expedition of Xer±es. Hippolytus 
was venerated as a god at Troezene. Pyfrhus, son of 
Achilles, was a god at Delphi only because he died and 
was buried there. Crotona worshipped a hero for the 
sole reason that during his life he had been the hand- 
somest man in the city." Athens adored as one of its 

' Plutarch, Solon, 9. 

» Pausanias, IX. 18. Herodotus, VII. 117. Diodorus, IV. 


protectors Eurystheus, though he was an Argivc ; but 

Euripides explains the origin of this woi'ship when he 

brings Eurystlieus upon the stage, about to die, anci 

malies him say to the Athenians, "Bnry me in Attioa. 

I will be propitious to you, and in the bosom of the 

ground I will be for your country a protecting guest."-' 

The entire tragedy of (Edijpus CoIchmms rests upon 

this belief. Athens and Thebes contend over the body 

of a man who is about to die, and who will become -;p» 

a god. />W- /^V 

It was a great piece of good fortune for a city to 
possess the bodies of men of some mark.° Mantinea 
spoke with pride of the bones of Areas, Thebes of those 
of Geryori, Messene of those of Aristomenes.'" To pro- 
cure these preoious relics, ruse was sometimes resorted 
to. Herodotus relates by what unfair means the Spai<- 
tans carried off the bones of Orestes." These bones, 
it is true, to which the soul of a hero was attached, 
gave the Spartans a victory immediately. As soon as 
Athens had acquired power, the first use she made of 
it was to seize upon the bones of Theseus, who had 
been buried in the Isle of Scyros, and to build a temple 
for them in the city, in order to increase the number of 
her protecting deities. 

Besides these gods and heroes, men had gods of an- 
other species, like Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, towards 
whom the aspect of nature had directed their thoughts ; 
but we have seen that these creations of human intelli- 

62. Pausanias, X. 23. Pindar, Nem., 65. Herodotus, V. 

> Eiirip., Beracl. 1032. 

» Pausanioe, I. 43. Polyb., VIII.30. Plantus,2'»'m., 11. 2, 14. 

^ Pausanias, IV. 32 ; VIII. 9. 

« Herodotus, I. 68. 


gence had for a long time the character of domestic or 
local divinities. At first men did not conceive of these 
gods as watching over the whole human race. They be- 
lieved that each one of them belonged in particular to 
a family or a city. 

Thus it was customary for each city, without count- 
ing its heroes, to have a Jupiter, a Minerva, or some 
other divinity which it had associated with its first 
Penates and its sacred fire. Thus there were iu Greece 
and in Italy a multitude of city-guarding divinities. 
Each city had its gods, who lived within its walls.' 

The names of many of these divinities are forgotten; 
it is by chance that there have remained the names of 
the god Satrapes, who belonged to the city of Elis, 
of the goddess Dindymene at Thebes, of Soteira at 
.iEgium, of Britomartis in Crete, of Hyblsea. at Hybla. 
The names of Zeus, Athene, Hera, Jupiter, Minerva, 
and Neptune are better k"nown to us, and we know 
that they were often applied to these city-guarding 
divinities ; but because two cities happened to apply 
the same name to their god, we are not to. conclude 
that they adored the same god. There was an Athene 
at Athens, and there was one at Sparta; but they were 
two goddesses. A great number of cities had a Jupi- 
ter as a city -protecting divinity. There were as many 
Jupiters as there were cities. In the legend of the 
Trojan war we see a Pallas who fights for tlie Greeks, 
and there, is among the Trojans another Pallas, who 
receives their worship and protects her worshippers.' 

' Herodotus, V. 82. Sophocles, Phil., 134. Thucyd, II. 71. 
Eurip., Electra, G71. Pausanias, I. 24; IV. 8; VIII. 47. 
AxHtoilh., Birds, %2&; Knights, 611. VirgU, IX. 246. Polllix, 
IX. 40. Apollodorus, III. 14. 

» Homer, Iliad, VI. 88. 


Would any one say that it was the same divinity who 
figured in botli armies ? Certainly not ; for the anciente 
did not attribute the gift of ubiquity to their gods. 
The cities of Argos and Samoa had each a Here Polias, 
but it was not the same goddess, for she was reprt-sented 
in the two cities with very different attributes. There 
was at Rome a Juno ; at a distance of live leagues, the 
city of Veil had another. So little were they the same 
divinity that we see the dictator Camillus, while be- 
sieging Veii, address himself to the Juno of the enemy, 
to induce her to abandon the Etruscan city and pass 
into his camp. When he is master of the city, he takes 
the statue, well persuaded that he gains possession of 
the goddess at the same time, and devoutly transports 
it to Rome. From that time Rome had two protect- 
ing Junos. There is a similar history, a few years 
later, of a Jupiter that another dictator took from Pise- 
neste, tliough' at that time Rome already had three or 
four of them at home.' 

The city which possessed a divinity of its own did 
not wish strangers to be protected by it, or to adore it. 
More commonly a temple was accessible only to citi- 
zens. The Argives alone had the right to enter the 
temple of Hera at Argos. To enter that of Athene at 
Athens, one had to be an Athenian." The Romans who 
adored two Junos at home could not enter the temple 
of a third Juno, who was in the little city of Lanu- 

We should not lose sight of the fact that the an- 
cients never represented God to themselves as a unique 
being exercising his action upon the universe. Each of 

' Llvy, V. 21, 22; VI. 29. « Herodotus, VI. 81; V. 72. 

' They acquired this right only by conquest. Livy, VIII. 14. 


their innumerable go3s had his little domain ; to one a 
family belcuged, to another a tribe, to a third a eity. 
Such was the world which sufficed for the providence 
of each of them. As to the god of the human race, a few 
philosophers had an idea of him ; the mysteries of 
Eleusis might have afforded a glimpse of him to the 
most intelligent of the initiated ; but the vulgar never 
believed in such a god. For ages man unders.tood the 
divine being only as a force which protected him pei'- 
sonally, and every man, or every group of men, desired 
to have a god. Even to-day, among the descendants 
of those Greeks, w« see rude peasaiita pray to th^ saints 
with fervor, while it is doubtful if they have the idea 
of a god. Each one of them wishes to have, among 
these saints, a particular protector, a special providence. 
At Naples, each quaater of the city has its Madonna; 
the lazzaroni kneel before that of their own street, 
while they insult that of the neighboring street: it is 
not rare to see two facchini wrangle, and even fight 
with knives, in defence of the merits of their respective 
Madonnas. These cases are exeeptioms to-day, and are 
found only among certain peoples and in certain classes. 
They were the rule among th» ancients. 

Each city had its corps of priests, who depended 
upon no foreign authority. B-etween the priests of 
two ei.ies there was no bond, noi communication, no 
exchange of instruction or of rites. If one passed from 
one city to another, he found other gods, other dogmas* 
other ceremonies. The ancients had books of liturgies' 
but those of one eity did not resemble those^ of another. 
Every eity had its collection of prayers and practices^ 
which were kept very secret ; it would have thought 
itself in danger of compromising its reli^on and its 
destiny by opening this collection to strangers. Thus 


religion was entirely local, entirely civic, taking tliis 
word in the ancient sense — that is to say, speciiil to 
each city.* 

Generally a man knew only the gods of his own city, 
and honored and irespeoted them alone. Each one 
could say what, in a tragedy of JEschylus, a stra-ger 
said to the Argives — " I fear not the gods of your coun- 
try ; I owe them nothing." ' 

Every city looked to its gods for safety. Men in- 
voked them in danger, and thanked them in victory. 
Often defeat was attributed to them ; and they were 
reproached for having badly fulfilled their duty aa 
defendere of the city. Men even went so far, some- 
times, as to overturn their altare and stone their 

Ordinarily, these gods took good cai-e of the city 
whose worship they received ; and this was quite nat- 
ui-al : these gods were eager for offerings, and they 
received victims only from their own city. If they 
wished the continuation of the sacrifices and heca- 
tombs, it was very necessary that they should watch 
over the city's safety.* See, in Virgil, how Juno 
" strove and labored " that her Carthage might one day 
obtain the empire of the world. Each of these gods, 
like the Juno of Vii^il, had the grandeur of his city 
at heart. These gods had the same interests as the 
litizens themselves, and in times of war marched to 
battle in the midst of them. In Euripides we see a 
personage who says, on the eve of battle, " The gods 

' Th.erg existed worships common to several cities only la the» 
case of confederations. We shall speak of them elsewhere. 
" JLsehylus, Suppl., 858. 

' Suetoiius, CaMg., 6; Seneca, De Vita Beata, 36. 
* This idea J6 often found among the anoients. Theognis, 759. 


who figbt with us are move powerful tlian those who 
are on the side of the enemy." ' The ^ginetans never 
commenced a campaign without carrying with thera 
the statues of their national heroes, the JEacidte. 
The Spartans in all their expeditions carried with them 
the Tyndaridse.^ In the combat the gods and the 
citizens mutually sustained each other, and if they con- 
quered, it was because all had done their duty. 

If a city was conquered, the gods were supposed to 
have been vanquished with it.' If a city was taken, 
its gods themselves were captives. 

On this last point, it is true, opinions were uncertain 
and diverse. Many were persuaded that a city never 
could be taken so long as its gods remained in it. 
When .^neas sees the Greeks masters of Troy, he 
cries that the gods have departed, deserting their tem- 
ples and their altars. In .^Eschylus, the chorus of 
Thebahs expresses the same belief when, at the approach 
of the enemy, it implores the gods not to abandon 
the city." 

According to this opinion, in order to take a city 
it was necessary to make the gods leave it. For this 
purpose the Romans employed a certain formula which 
they had in their rituals, and which Macrobius has pre- 
served : " O thou great one, who hast this city under 
thy protection, I pray thee, I adore thee, I ask of thee 
as a favor, to abandon this city and this people, to quit 
these temples, these sacred places, and, having sepa- 
rated thyself from them, to come to Rome, to me and 
mine: May our city, our temples, and our sacred places 
be more agreeable and more dear to thee ; take us under 

' Euripides, BeracX., 347. » Herodotus, V. 65 ; V. 80. 

» Virgil, JEn., I. 68. * ^sch., Sept. Cont- Theb., 202. 


thy protection. If thou doest this, I will found a 
temple in thine honoi-." ' Now, the ancients were 
convinced that there were formulas so efficacious and 
powerful, that, if one pronounced them exactly and 
without changing a single word, the god could not re- 
sist the request of m^n. The god thus called upon 
passed over, therefore, to the side of the enemy, and 
the city was taken. 

In Greece we find the same opinions and similar 
customs. Even in the time of Thucydides, when the 
Greeks besieged a city, they never failed to address an 
invocation to its gods, that they might permit it to be 
taken." Of'eu, instead of employing a formula to at- 
tract the god, the Greeks preferred to carry off its 
statue by stealth. Everybody knows the legend of 
Ulysses' cari-ying off the Pallas of the Trojans. At 
another time the ^ginetans, wishing to make war upon 
Epidaurus, commenced by carrying off two protecting 
statues of that city, and transported them to their own 

Herodotus relates that the Athenians wished to make 
war upon the ^ginetans, bat the enterprise was hazard- 
ous, for ^gina had a protecting hero of great power and 
of singulnr fidelity ; this was ^acus. The Athenians, 
after having studied the matter over^ put off the execu- 
tion of their design for thirty years; at the same time 
they built in their own country a chapel to this same 
^acus, and devoted a worship to him. They were 
persuaded that if this worship was continued without 
interruption during thirty years, the god would belong 
no longer to the .lEginetans, but to themselves. In- 
deed, it seemed to them that a god could not accei)t 

' Macrobius, III. 9. = Thucydides, II. 74. 

» Herodotus, V. 83. 


fat victims for so long a time without placing himself 
under obligations to those who had offered them. 
jEacus, therefore, would in the end be forced to aban- 
don the interests of the JEginetane, and to give th? 
victory to the Athenians.' 

Here is another case from Plutarch. Solon desired 
that Athens might become mistress of the little Isle of 
Salamis, which then belonged to the Megarians. He 
consulted the cn-aele. The oracle answered, " If you 
wish to conquer the isle, you must first gain the favor 
of the heroes who protect it and who inhabit it.'' 
Solon obeyed ; in the name of Athens he offered sac- 
rifices to the two principal heroes of Salamis. These 
heroes did not resist the gifts that were offered them, 
but went over to the Athenian side, and the isle, de- 
prived of protectors, was conquered.* 

In time of war, if the besiegers sought to gain pos- 
session of the divinities of the city, the besieged, on 
their part, did their best to retain them. Sometimes 
they bound the god' with chains, to prevent him from 
deserting. At other times they concealed him from all 
eyes, that the enemy might not find him. Or, still 
again, they opposed to the formula by which the enemy 
attempted to bribe the god another formula which had 
the power to i-etain him. The Romans had imagined 
a means which seemed to them to be surer ; they kept 
secret the name of the principal and most powei"flil of 
their protecting gods." They thought that, as the 
enemy could never call this god by his name, he would 
never abandon their side, and that their city would 
never be taken. 

We see by this what a singular idea the ancients had 

' Herodotus, V. 89. « Plutarch, Solon, 9. 

' M^crobius, III, 


of the gods. It was a long time before they conceived 
the Ditinity as a supreme power. Evefy family had its 
domfestic religion, every city had its national feligioti. 
A city was like a little church, all complete, which had 
its gods, its dogmas, and its worship. These beliefs 
appear very crude to us, but they were those of the 
most intellectual people of ancient times* afid have ex- 
ercised upon this people and upon the Bomaus so im- 
portant an influence that the greater part of their 
la\?s, of their instLtntious, and of their history is from 
this source. 

The Eeligion of the CUy. 

1. The Public Repasts. 

Wb have already seen that the principal cerettiony 
of the domestic worship was a repast, which they called 
a sacrifice. To eat food prepared upon an altar was, 
to all appearance, the first form which men gave to 
the religious act. The need of putting themselves in 
communion with the divinity was satisfied by this 
repast, to which they invited him, and of which they 
gave him his part. 

The principal ceremony of the! city worship was also 
a repast of this nature ; it was partaken of in common 
by all the citizens, in honor of the protecting divinities. 
The celebrating of these public repasts was universal 
in Greece; and men believed that the safety of the 
city depended upon thsir accomplishment.' 

' Smri'i^ia Tior noXimi avvieiltva. Atticniseus, V. 2. 


The Odyssey gives us a description of one of these 
sacred feasts : Nine long tables are spread for the peo- 
ple of Pylos ; at each one of them five hundred citizens 
are seated, and each group has immolated nine bulls in 
honor of the gods. This repast, which was called the 
feast of the gods, begins and ends with libations and 
prayers.' The ancient custom of repasts in common is 
also mentioned in the oldest Athenian traditions. It 
is related that Orestes, the murderer of his mother, 
arrived at Athens at the veiy moment when the city, 
assembled about its king, was performing the sacred 

The public meals of Sparta are well known, but the 
idea which men ordinarily entertain of them is very far 
from the truth. They imagine the Spartans living and 
eating always in common, as if private life had not been 
known among them. We know, on the contrary, from 
ancient authors, that the Spartans often took their meals 
in their own houses, in the midst of their families.^ The 
public meals took place twice a month, without reckon- 
ing holidays. These were religious acts of the same 
nature as those which were practised at Athens, in 
Argos, and throughout Greece.'' 

Besides these immense banquets, where all the citi- 
zens were assembled, and which could take place only 
on solemn festivals, religion prescribed that every day 

' Homer, Odyssey. III. * Athensus, X. 49. 

' AthensBus, IV. 17 ; IV. 21. Herodotus, VI. 57. Plutarch, 
Gleomenes, 13. 

• This custom is attested, for Athens, by Xenophon, Gov. 
Aih., 2 ; Schol. on Aristophanes, Clouds, 393 ; — for Crete and 
Thessaly, Atiien^us, IV. 22; —for Argos, Boeckh, 1122; — for 
other cities, Pindar, iVero., XI.; Theognis, 269; Pausanias, V 
15 ; Athenaeus, IV. 32 ; IV. 61 ; X. 24 and 25 ; X. 49 ; XI. 66. 


there should be a sacred meal. For this purpose, men 
chosen by the city, were required to eat together, in 
its name, within the enclosure of the prytaneum, in the 
presence of the sacred fire and the protecting gods* The 
Greeks were convinced that, if this repast was inter- 
rupted but for a single day, the state was menaced 
with the loss of the favor of its gods. 

At Athens, the men who took part in the common 
meal were selected by lot, and the law severely pun- 
ished those who refused to perform this duty. The 
citizens who sat at the sacred table were clothed, for 
the time, with a sacerdotal character ; they were called 
parasites. This word which, at a later period, became 
a term of contempt, was in the beginning a sacred 
title.' In the time of Demosthenes the parasites had 
disappeared; but the prytanes were still required to 
eat together in the prytaneum. In all the cities there 
were halls destined for the common meals." 

If we observe how matters passed at this meal, we 
shall easily recognize the religious ceremony. Every 
guest had a crown upon his head ; it was a custom of 
the ancients to wear a crown of leaves or flowers when 
one performed a solemn religious act. " The more one is 
adorned with flowers," they said, " the surer one is of 
pleasing the gods ; but if you sacrifice without wearing 
a crown, they will turn from you."" "A crown," they 
also said, " is a herald of good omen, which prayer sends 
before it towards the gods." * For the same reason the 
banqueters were clothed in robes of white ; white was 

' Plutarch, Solon, 2i. Athenseus, VI. 26. 
' Demosthenes, Pro Corona, 63. Aristotle, Politics, VII. 1, 
19. Pollux, VIII. 155. 
^ fragment of Sappho, in Athenseus, XV. 16. 
* Athenseus, XV. 19. 


the sacred color among the ancients, that which pleased 
the gods.' 

The meal invariably commenced witli a prayer and 
libations, and hymns were sung. The natare of the 
dishes and the kind of wine that was to be served 
were regulated by the rules of each city. 

To deviate in the least from the usage followed in 
primitive times, to present a new dish or alter the 
rhythm of the sacred hymns, was a grave impiety, for 
which the whole city was responsible to the gods; 
Religion even went so far as to fix the nature of the 
vessels that ought to be employed both for the cooking 
of the food and for the service of the table. In one city 
the bread must be served in copper baskets ; in another 
earthen dishes had to be employed. Even the form of 
the loaves was immtitably fixed.^ These rules of the 
old religion continued to be observed, and the sacred 
meals always preserved their primitive simplicity. 
Creeds, manners, social condition, all changed ; but these 
meals remained unchangeable ; for the Greeks were 
very scrupulous observers of their national religiotii 

It is but just to add, that when the guests had 
satisfied the requirements of religion by eating the 
prescribed food, they might immediately afterwards 
commence another meal, more expensive and better 
suited to their taste. This was quite a common prac- 
tice at Sparta." 

The custom of religious meals was common in Italy 
as well as in Greece. It existed anciently, Aristotle 

' Plato, Laws, XII. 956. Cicero, De Legih., II. 18. Virgil, 
V. 70, 774) VII. 135; VIII. 274. So, too, among the Hindus, 
in religious ceremonies, one was required to wear a crown, and 
to be clothed in white. 

» Athenseus, I. 58 ; IV. 32 ; XI. 66. ^ Ibid., IV. 19 ; IV. 20. 


tells US, among the peoples known as CEnotiinns, Os- 
cans, and Ausonians.' Virgil has menlioned it twice 
in the ^neid. Old Latinus receives the envoys of 
JEneas, not in his home, but in a temple, "consecrated 
by the religiou of his ancestors; there took place the. 
sacred feasts after the immolation of the victims; there 
all the family chiefs sat together at long tables." Far- 
ther along, when ^neas arrives at the home of Evander, 
he finds him celebrating a sacrifice. The king is in the 
midst of his people ; all are crowned with flowers ; all, 
seated at the same table, sing a hymn in praise of the 
god of the city. 

This custom was perpetuated at Rome. There was 
always a hall where the representatives of the curies 
ate together. The senate, on certain days, held a 
sacred repast in the Capitol. At the solemn festivals, 
tables were spread in the streets, and the whole people 
ate at them. Originally the pontiffs presided at these 
repasts ; later, this care was delegated to special priostS, 
who were called epulones.'' 

These old customs give us an idea of the close tie 
which united the members of a city. Human associa- 
tion was a religion ; its symbol was a meal, of which 
they partook together. We must picture to ourselves 
one of these little primitive societies, all assembled, or 
the heads of families at least, at the same table, each 
clothed in whitie, with a crown upon his head ; all make 
the libation together, recite the same prayer, sing the 
same hymns, and eat the same food, prepared upon tlie 
same altar ; in their midst their ancestors are present, 
and the protecting gods share the meal.. Neither iii- 

' Aristotle, Politics, IV. 9, 3. 

* Dionysius, II. 23. Aulus Gellius, XII. 8. Livy, XL. 69. 



terest, nor agreement, nor habit creates the social bond; 
it is this holy communion piously accomplished in the 
presence of the gods of the city. 

2. The Festivals and the Calendar. 

In all ages and in all societies, man has desired to 
honor his gods by festivals; he has established that 
there should be days during which the religious sent!: 
ment should reign in his soul, without being distracted 
by terrestrial thoughts and labors. In the number of 
days that he has to live he has devoted a part to 
the gods. 

Every city, had been founded with rites which, in the 
thoughts of the ancients, had had the effect of estab- 
lishing the national gods within its walls. It was 
necessary that the virtue of these rites should be re- 
juvenated each year by a new religious ceremony. 
This festival they called the birthday; all the citizens 
were required to celebrate it. 

Whatever was sacred gave occasion for a festival. 
There was the festival of the city enclosure, ambur- 
balia, and that of the territorial limits, ambarvalia. 
On those days the citizens formed a grand procession, 
clad in white, and crowned with leaves; they made 
the circuit of the city or territory, chanting prayers; at 
the head walked priests, leading victims, which they 
sacrificed at the close of the ceremony.' 

Afterwards came the festival of the founder. Then 
each of the heroes of the city, each of those souls that 
men invoked as protectors, claimed a worship. Rom- 
ulus had his, and Servius Tullius, and many others, 

' TibuUus, II. 1. Pestus, v. AmhurhiaUs. 


even to the nurse of Romulus, and Evander's mother. 
In the sime way Athens had the festival of Cecrops, 
that of Erechthous, that of Theseus ; and it celebrated 
each of the heroes of the country, the guardian of 
Theseus, and Eurystheus, and Artdrogeus, and a mul- 
titude of others. 

There were also the rural festivals, those for plough- 
ing, seed-time, the time for flowering, and that for the 
vintage. In Greece, as in Italy, every act of the hus- 
bandman's life was accompanied with sacrifices, and 
men performed their work reciting sacred hymns. At 
Rome the priests fixed, every year, the day on which 
the vintage was to commence, and the day on which 
the new wine might be drunk. Everything was regu- 
lated by religion. A religious ordinance required the 
vines to be pruned ; for it told man that it would be 
impious to offer a libation with the wine of an unpruned 

Every city had a festival for each of the divinities 
which it had adopted as a protector, and it often counted 
many of them. When the worship of a new divinity 
was introduced into the city, it was necessary to find a 
new day in the year to consecrate to him. What char- 
acterized the religious festivals was the interdiction of 
labor, the obligation to be joyous, the songs, and the 
public games. The Athenian religion added. Take care 
,to do each other no wrong on those days.'' 

The calendar was nothing more than the order of the 
religious festivals. It was regulated, therefore, by the 
priests. At Rome it was long before the calendar was 
reduced to writing; the first day of the month, the 

' Varro, VI. 16. Virgil, Georg., I. 340-350. Plin}-, 'S.YUt. 
Festus, V Vinalia. Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 40; Numa, 14. 
' A Ian of Solon, cited by Demosthenes, in Timocrai. 


((Ontiff, after having offered a sacrifice, oonvoked the 
(./eople, and named the festivals that wonld take place 
in the course of the mouth. This ' convocatioa was 
c&lk'd the calatio, whence came the name of calends, 
w)/ich was given to this day. 

The calendar was regulated neither on the course of 
the moon nor on the apparent course of the sun. It 
was governed solely by the laws of religion, mysterious 
laws, which the priests alone knew. Sometimes re- 
ligion required that the year should be shortened, and 
at other times that it should be lengthened. We can 
foi'm an idea of primitive calendars, if we recollect that 
among the Albans the month of May had twelve days, 
and that March had thirty-six.' 

We can see that the calendar of one city would in 
no wise resemble that of another, since the religion 
M'as not the same in both, and the festivals, as well as 
the gods, were difierent. The year had not the same 
length from one city to another. The months did not 
bear the same names : at Athens they had quite other 
natjies than at Thebes, and at Rome they had not the 
same names as at Lavinium. This was due to the fact 
that the namo of each month was derived, ordinarily, 
from the principal festival it contained, and the festi- 
vals were not the same. Different cities had no under- 
standing to commence the year at the same time, or to 
count the series of their years from the same date. In 
Greece the Olympic festival afforded, in the course of 
time, a common date ; but this did not prevent each 
city from having its own particular style of reckoning. 
In Italy every city counted its years from the day of 
its foundation. 

' Censorinua, 22. Macrobius, I. 14; I. 16. Varro, V. 28; 
VI. 27. 


3. Tlie Census. 

Among the most important ceremonies of the city 
religion there was one known as the purification. It 
took place at Athens every year ; at Rome it occurred 
once in five yeare.' The rites which were then ob- 
served, and the very name which it bore, indicate that 
the object of this ceremony was to efface the faults 
committed by the citizens against the worship. In- 
deed, this religion, with its complicated forms, was a 
source of terror for the ancients: as faith and purity of 
intention went for vefy little, and the religion con- 
sisted entirely in the minute practice of innumerable 
rules, they were always in fear of having been guilty 
of some negligence, some omission, or some error, and 
were never sure of being free fronl the anger or malice 
of some god. An expiatory sacrifice was necessary, 
therefore, to reassure the heart of man. The mngis- 
ti'ate whose duty it was to offer it (at Rome it was 
the censor; before the censor, it was the consul, and 
before the consul, the king) commenced by assuring 
himself, by the aid of the auspices, that the gods 
accepted the ceremony. He then convoked the peo^ 
pie by means of a herald, who, for this purpose, made 
use of a certain sacramental formula. All the ciiizens, 
on the appointed day, collected outside the walls ; there, 
all being silent, the magistrate walked tbree times 
around the assembly, driving before him three vic- 
tims, a sheep, a liog, a bull (suovetaurile) ; these three 
animals together constituted, among the Greeks, as 

' Diogenes Laertius, Life of Socrates, 23. Harpocration, 
0a^fiax6;. They also purified the domestic hearth every year. 
iEschylus, Choeph., 966. 


among the Romans, an expiatory sacrifice. Priests 
and victims followed the procession. When the third 
circuit was completed, the magistrate pronounced a 
set form of prayer, and immolated the victims.' From 
this moment every stain was effaced, all negligence in 
the worship repaired, and the city was at peace with 
its gods. Two things were necessary for an act of 
this nature, and of so great importance ; one was, that 
no stranger should be found among the citizens, as this 
would have destroyed the effect of the ceremony ; the 
other was, that all the citizens should be present, with- 
out which the city would have retained some stain. It 
was necessary, therefore, that this reli^ous ceremony 
should be preceded by a numbering of the citizens. 
At Rome and at Athens, they were counted with scra- 
pulous care. It is j)robable that the number was pro- 
nounced by the magistrate in the formula of prayer, as 
it was afterwards inserted in the account of the cere- 
mony which the censor drew up. 

The loss of citizenship was the punishment of the 
man who failed to have his name enrolled. This sever- 
ity is easily explained. The man who had not taken 
part in the religious act, who had not been purified, 
for whom the prayer had not been pronounced or the 
victim sacrificed, could no longer be a member of the 
city. In the sight of the gods, who had been present 
at the ceremony, he was no longer a citizen." 

• Varro, L. L., VI. 86. Valerius Maximua, V. 1, 10. Livy, 
I. 44; III. 22; VI. 27. Propertius, IV. 1, 20. Servius, ad 
Eclog., X. 55 ; ad 2En., VIII. 231. Livy attributes this institu- 
tion to king Servius; but probably it is older than Rome, and 
existed in all the cities, as well as at Borne. It is attributed to 
Servius just because he modified it, as we shall see. 

^ Citizens absent from liome were required to return home for 


We are enabled to judge of the iraportance of this 
ceremony by the exorbitant power of the magistrate 
who presided at it. The censor, before commencing 
the sacrifice, ranged the people in a certain order ; the 
senators, the knights,' and the tribes, each rank in its 
appropriate place. Absolute master on that day, he 
fixed the place of each man in the different categories. 
Then, all having been arranged according to his direc- 
tions, he performed the sacred act. Now, a result of 
this was, that from that day to the following lustration, 
every man preserved in the city the rank which the 
censor had assigned him in the ceremony. He was a 
senator if on that day he had been counted among 
the senators ; a knight if he had figured among the 
knights ; if a simple citizen, he formed a part of the 
tribe in the ranks of which he had been on that day; 
and if the magistrate had refused to admit him into the 
ceremony, he was no longer a citizen. Thus the place 
which one had occupied in the religious act, and where 
the gods had seen him, was the one he held in the city 
for five years. Such was the origin of the immense 
power of the censor. 

In this ceremony none but citizens took part; but 
their wives, their children, their slaves, their prop- 
erty, real and personal, were in a manner purified in 
the person of the head of the family. It was for this 
reason that, before the sacrifice, each citizen was • re- 
quired to give to the censor an account of the persons 
and property belonging to him. 

The lustration was accomplished in Augustus's time 
with the same exactitude and the same rites as in the 

the lustration ; nothing could exempt them from this. YcUeius, 

216 THE CITT. 1300K m. 

most ancient times. The pontiffs still regarded it as a 
religious act, while statesmen saw in it an excellent 
measure of administration, at least. 

4. Meligion in the AssenMy^ in the Senate, in the 
Tribunal, in the Army, in tlie Triumph. 

There was not a single act of public life in which the 
gods were not seen to take a part. As he wiis under 
the influence of the idea that they were by turns ex- 
cellent protectors or cruel enemies, man never dared 
to act without being sure that they were favorable), 
The people assembled only on such days as religion 
permitted. They remembered that the city had suf- 
fered a disaster on a certain day ; this was, doubtless, 
because on that day the gods had been either absent 
or irritated ; tliey would probably be in the same mood 
at the same season every year, for reasons unknown to 
mortals. This day, therefore, was forever unlucky; 
there were no assemblies, no courts; public life was 

At Rome, before an assembly proceeded to business, 
the augurs were required to declare that the gods were 
propitious. The assembly commenced with a prayer, 
which the augur pronounced, and which the consul 
repeated after him. 

There was the same custom among the Athenians. 
The assembly always commenced by a religious act. 
Priests offered a sacrifice ; a large circle was then traced 
by pouring lustral water upon the ground, and within 
this sacred circle the citizens assembled.' Before any 

* Aristophanes, Acharn., 44. JEschines, in Timareh., I. 21; 
in Ctesiph., 176, and Scholiast Dinarch., in Aristog., 14. 


oratoi began to speak, a prayer was pronounced be- 
fore the silent people. The auspices were also con- 
sulted, and if any unfavorable sign appeared in the 
heavens, the assembly broke up at once.' 

The tribune, or speaker's stand, was a sacred place, 
and the orator never ascended it without a crown upon 
his head.' 

The jjlace of assembly of the Roman senate was 
always a temple. If a session had been held else- 
where than in a sacred place, its acts would have been 
null and void ; for the gods would not have been pres- 
ent. Before every deliberation, the piesident offered a 
sacrifice' and pronounced a prayer. In the hall there 
was an altar, where every senator, on entering, offered 
a libation, at the same tinie invoking the gods." ^yf' ^ ' 

The Athenian senate was little different. The hall 
also contained an altar and a sacred fire. A religious 
ceremony was observed at the opening of each session. 
Every senator, on entering, approached the altar, and 
pronounced a prayer. While the session lasted, evei-y 
senator wore a crown upon his head, as in religious 

At Rome, as well as at Athens, courts of justice were 
open in the city only on such days as religion pro- 
nounced favorable. At Athens the session of the court 
was held near an altar, and commenced with a sac- 

' Aristophanes, Acharn., 171. 

* Aristophanes, Thesmoph., 381, and Scholiast. 

" Varro, cited by Aulos! Gellius, XIV. 7. Cicero, ad Fdmil., 
X. 12. Suetonius, ^ug>., 85. Diop Cassius, LIV. p. 621. Ser- 
vius, VII. 153. 

■* Andocides, Be Mysi., 44, De Red., 15. Antiphon, Pro 
Ghor., 45. Lycurgus, in Leocr., 122. Demosthenes, in Meidi- 
am, 114. Diodorus, XIV. 4. 

218 THB CITT. BOOK m. 

rifico.' In Homer's time the judges assembled «m a 
holy circle." 

' Festus says, that in the rituals of the Etruscans were 
directions as to the founding of a city, the consecra- 
tion of a temple, the arrangement of curies and tribes 
in a public assembly, and the ranging of an army in 
ordei of battle. All these things were marked in the 
ritual, because all these things were connected with 

In war, religion was as influential, at least, as in 
peace. In the Italian cities' there were colleges of 
priests, called fetiaks, who presided, like the heralds 
among the Greeks, at all the sacred ceremonies to which 
international relations gave rise. A feticHis, veiled, 
and with a crown upon Ids head, declared war by pro- 
nouncing a sacramental formula. At the same time, 
the consul, in priestly robes, offered a sacrifice!, and 
solemnly opened the temple of the most venerated and 
most ancient divinity of Italy. Before setting out on 
an expedition, the army being assembled, the general 
repeated prayers and offered a sacrifice. The custom 
was the same at Athens and at Sparta.' 

During a campaign the army presented the image 
of the city; its religion followed it. The Greeks took 
with them the statues of their divinities. Every Greek 
or Roman army carried with it a hearth, on which the 
sacred fire was kept up night and day.* A Roman 

' Aristophanes, Wasps, 860-865. Homer, Iliad, XVIII. 604. 

* Dionysius, II. 73. Servius, X. 14. 

. ' Dionysius, IX. 57. "Virgil, VII. 601. Xenophon, neUen., 
VI. 6. 

* Herodotus, VIII. 6. Plutaroi., Agesilans, 6 ; Publicola, 17. 
Xenophon, Gov. Laced., 14. Dionyeius, IX. 6. Stobwus, 42. 
Julius Obsequens, 12, 116, 


army was accompanied by augurs and puUarii (feeders 
of the sacred chickens) : every Greek anny had a 

Xet us examine a Roman army at the moment when 
it is preparing for battle. The consul orders a victim 
to be brought, and strikes it with the axe; it falls: its 
entrails will indicate the will of the gods. An aruspex 
examines them,, and if the signs are favorable, the con- 
sul gives the signal for battle. The most skilful dis- 
positions, the most favorable circumstances, are of no 
account if the gods do not permit the, battle. The 
fundamental principle of the military art among the 
Romans was to be able to put oflF a battle when the 
gods were opposed to it. It was for this reason that 
they made a sort of citadel of their camp every day. 

Let us now examine a Greek army, and we will take 
.for example the battle of Plataea. The Spartans are 
drawn up in line; each one has his post for battle. 
They all have crowns upon their heads, and the flute- 
players sound the religious hymns. The king, a little 
in rear of the ranks, slaughters the victims. But the 
entrails do not give the favorable signs, and the sacri- 
.fice must be repeated. Two, three, four victims are 
successively immolated. During this time the Persian 
cavalry approach, shoot their arrows, and kill quite a 
number of Spartans, The Spartans remain immova- 
ble, their shields placed at their feet, without even 
putting themselves on the defensive against the arrows 
of the enemy. They await the signal of the gods. 
At last the victims oflTer the favorable signs; then the 
Spartans raise their shields, seize their. swords, move 
on to battle, and are victorious. 

After every victory they offer a sacrifice; and this 
is the origin of the triumph, which is so well known 

220 THE CITY. BOOK in. 

among the Romans, and which was not less common 
among the Greeks, This custom was a consequence 
of the opinion which attributed the victory to the gods 
of the city. Before the battle the army had addressed 
a prayer to them, like the one we read in jEschylus : 
" To you, O gods, who inhabit and possess our land, if 
our arms are fortunate, and if our city is saved, I 
promise to sprinkle your altars with the blood of sheep, 
to sacrifice bulls to you, and to hang up in your holy 
temples the trophies conquered by the spear." ' By 
virtue of this promise, the victor owed a sacrifice. The 
army entered the city to ofier it, and repaired to the 
temple, forming a long procession, and singing a sa- 
cred hymn — dgta/t^o^.' 

At Rome the ceremony was very nearly the same. 
The army marched in procession to the principal tem- 
ple of the city. The priests walked at the head of the 
cortege, leading victims. On reaching the temple, the 
general sacrificed the victims to the gods. On their 
way the soldiers all wore crowns, as was becoming in 
a sacred ceremony, and sung a hymn, as in Greece. 
There came a time, indeed, when the soldiers did not 
scruple to replace the hymn, which they did not undei"- 
stand, by barrack songs and raillery at their general ; 
but they still preserved the custom of repeating the re- 
frain lo triumphed Indeed, it was this refrain which 
gave the name to the ceremony. 

Thus, in time of peace, as in war time, religion intei"- 
vened in all acts. It was everywhere present, it en- 

' ^schylus, Sept. Coni. Theh., 252-260. Eurip., Phcen., 573. 
' Diodoius, IV. 6. Fhotius, ^gio/i/Sos, sniSn^it vixijs, jio.unij'.' 
> Varro, L. L., VI. 64. Pliny, N. H., VII. 56. Macrobius, 
I. 19. 


veloped man. The soul, the body, private life, public 
life, meals, festivals, assemblies, tribunals, battles, all 
were under the empire of this city religion. It regu- 
lated all the acts of man, disposed of every instant of 
his life, fixed all bis habits. It governed a human 
being with an authority so absolute that there was 
nothing beyond its control. 

One would have a very false idea of human nature 
to believe that this ancient religion was an imposture, 
and, so to speak, a comedy. Montesquieu pretends 
that the Romans adopted a worship only to restrain 
the people. A religion never had such an origin ; and 
every religion that has come to sustain itself only from 
motives of public utility, has not stood long. Mon- 
tesquieu has also said that the Romans subjected reli- 
gion to the state. The contrary is true. It is impossi- 
ble to read many pages of Livy without being con- 
vinced of this. Neither the Romans nor the Greeks 
knew anything of those sad conflicts between church 
and state which have been so common in other societies. 
But this is due solely to the fact that at Rome as well as 
at Sparta and Athens, the state was enslaved by its 
feligion; or, rather, the state and religion were so com- 
pletely confounded, that it was impossible even to dis- 
tinguish the one from the other, to say nothing of 
/orming an idea of a conflict between the two. 

222 THE CITTf. BOOK ni 

The Bitnals and the Annals. 

The character and the virtue of the religion of the 
ancients was not to elevate human intelligence to the 
conception of the absolute ; to open to the eager mind 
a brilliant road, at the end of which it could gain a 
glimpse of God. This religion was a badly connected 
assemblage of small creeds, of minute practices, of 
petty observances. It was not necessary to seek the 
meaning of them ; there was no need of reflecting, or 
of giving a reason for them. The word religion did 
not signify what it signifies for us ; by this word we 
understand a body of dogmas, a doctrine concerning 
God, a symbol of faith concerning what is in and 
around us. This same word, among the ancients, sig- 
nified rites, ceremonies, acts of exterior worship. The 
doctrine was of small account : the practices were the 
important part ; these were obligatory, and bound man 
(ligare, rdigio). Religion was a material bond, a chain 
which held man a slave. Man had originated it, and 
he was governed by it. He stood in fear of it, and 
dared not reason upon it, or discuss it, or examine it. 
Gods, heroes, dead men, claimed a material worship 
from him, and he paid them the debt, to keep them 
friendly, and, still more, not to make enemies of them. 

Man counted little upon their friendship. Thej 
were envious, irritable gods, without attachment or 
friendship for man, and willingly at war with him. 
Neither did the gods love man, nor did man love his 
gods. He believed in their existence, but would have 


wished that they did not exist. He feared even his 
domestic and national gods, and was continually in 
fear of being betrayed by them. His great inquietude 
was lest he might incur their displeasure. He was oc- 
cupied all his life in appeasing them. Paces deorum 
g'MOsrej'e, says the poet. But how satisfy them? Above 
all, how could one be sure that he had satisfied them, 
and that they were on his side ? Men believed that 
the employment of certain formulas answered this pur- 
pose. A certain prayer, composed of certain words, 
had been followed by the success that was asked for ; 
this was, without doubt,, because it had been heard by 
the god, and had exercised an influence upon him; that 
it had been potent, more potent than the god, since he 
had not been able to resist it. They therefore pre- 
served the mysterious and sacred words of this prayer. 
After the father, the son repeated it. As soon as writ- 
ing was in use it was committed to writing. Every 
family, evei'y religious family at least, had a book in 
which were written the prayers of which the ancestors 
had made use, and with which the gods had complied.' 
It was an arm which man employed against the incon- 
stancy of the gods. But not a word or syllable must 
be changed, and least of all the rhythm in which it had 
been chanted. For then the prayer would have lost 
its force, and the gods would have remained free. But 
the formula was not enough ; there were exterior acts 
whose details were minute and unchangeable. The 
slightest gesture of the one who performed the sacri- 
fice, and the smallest parts of his costume, were gov- 
erned by strict rules. In addressing one god, it was 

' Dionysius, I. 76. Varro, VI. 90. Cicero, Brutus, 16. 
Aulus Gellius, XJII. 19. 


necessary to have the head veiled ; in addressing an- 
other, the head was uncovered ; for a third, the skirt 
of the toga was thrown over the shoulder. In certain 
acts the feet had to be naked. There were certain 
prayers which were without effect unless the man, after 
pronouncing them, pirouetted on one foot from left to 
right. The nature of the victim, the color of the hair, 
the manner of slaying it, even the shape of the knife, 
and the kind of wood employed to roast the flesh — all 
was fixed for every god by the religion of each family, 
or of each city. In vain the most fervent heart offered 
to the gods the fattest victims: if one of the innumer- 
able rites of the sacrifice was neglected, the sacrifice 
was without effect; the least failure made of the sacred 
act an act of impiety. The slightest alteration dis- 
turbed and confused the religion of a country, and 
changed the protecting gods into so many cruel ene- 
mies. It was for this reason that Athens was so severe 
against the priest who made some change in the ancient 
rites.' It was for the same reason that the Roman 
senate degraded its consuls and its dictators who had 
committed any error in a sacrifice. 

All these formulas and practices had been handed 
dowi. by ancestors who had proved their efiicacy. 
There was no occasion for innovation. It was a duty 
to rest upon what the ancestors had done, and the 
highest piety consisted in imitating them. It mattered 
little that a belief changed ; it might be freely modified 
from age to age, and take a thousand diverse forms, in 
accordance with the reflection of sages, or with the 
popular imagination. But it was of the greatest im- 
portance that the formulas should not fall into oblivion, 

' Demosthenes, in Ntceram, IIG, 117. 


and that the lites should not be modified. Every city, 
therefore, had a book in which these were preserved. 

The use of sacred books was universal among the 
Greeks, the Romans, and the Etruscans.' Sometimes 
the ritual was written on tablets of wood, sometimes 
on cloth ; Athens engraved its rites upon tablets of 
copper, that they might be imperishable. Rome had 
its books of the pontiffs, its books of the augurs, its 
book of ceremonies, and its collection of Indigitamen- 
ta. There was not a city which had not also its col- 
lection of ancient hymns in honor of its gods." In vain 
did language change with manners and beliefs ; the 
words and the rhythm remained unchangeable, and on 
the festivals men continued to sing these hymns after 
they no longer understood them. These books and 
songs, written by the priests, were preserved by them 
with the greatest care. They were never revealed to 
strangers. To reveal a rite, or a formula, would have 
been to betray the religion of the city, and to deliver 
its gods to the enemy. For greater precaution they 
were concealed from the citizens themselves,' and the 
priests alone were allowed to know them. 

In the minds of the people, all that was ancient was 
venerable and sacred. When a Roman wished to say 
that anything was dear to him, he said, " That is an- 
cient for me." The Greeks had the same expression. 
The cities clung strongly to their past, because they 
found in the past all the motives as well as all the rules 

' Pausanias, IV. 27. Plutarch, Cont. Cdlot., 17. Pollux, 
VIII. 128. Pliny, iV. H., XIII. 21. Val. Max., I. 1, 8. Var- 
ro, L. L., VI. 16. Censorinus, 17. Pestus, v. RUvdles. 

' Plutarch, Theseus, 16. Tac, Ann., IV. 43. .Slliaii, U. V., 
II. 39. 



of their religion. They had need to look back, for it 
was upon recollections and traditions that their entire 
worship rested. Thus history had for the ancients a 
greater importance than it has for us. It existed a 
long time before Herodotus and Thacydides, — written 
or unwritten ; as simple oral traditions, or in books, lis 
was contemporary with the birth of citieSi There was 
no city, however small and obscure it might be, that 
did not pay the greatest attention to preserving an 
account of what had passed within it. This was not 
vanity, but religion. A city did not believe it had the 
right to allow anything to be forgotten ; for everything 
in its history was connected with its worship. 

History commenced; indeed, with the act of founda- 
tion, and recorded the sacred name of the founder. It 
was continued with the legend of the gods of the city, 
its protecting heroes. It taught the date, the origin, and 
the reason of every worehip, and explained its obscure 
rites. The prodi^es which the god» of the country 
had performed, and by which they had manifested their 
powen, their goodness, or their anger, were recorded 
there ; there were described the ceretponies by which 
the priests had' skilfully turned a bad presage, or had 
appeased the anger of the gods ; there were recorded 
the epidemics which had afflicted the city, on what 
day a temple had been consecrated, and for what rea- 
son a sacrifice had been established ;' there were record- 
ed all the events which related to religion, the victories 
that proved the assistance of the gods, and in which 
these gods had often been seen fighting, the defeats 
which indicated theu* anger, and for which it had been 
necessary to institute an, expiatory sacrifice. All this 
was written for the instruction and the piety of the de- 
scendants. All this history was a material proof of the 


existence- of the national gods ; for the events which 
it containeil were the visible form under which these 
gods had' revealed themselves from age to age. Even 
among these facts there were many that gave rise to 
festivals and" annual sacrifices. The history of the city 
told the citizen what-he must believeand what hemust 
adore. Then, too, this history was written by priestsi. 
Rome had its annals of the pontiffs; the Sabine priests, 
the Samnite priests, and the Etruscan priests had 
similar ones.' Among the Greeks there has been pre- 
served to us the recollection of the books or secret 
annals of Athens, Sparta, Delphi, Ifaxos, and Taren- 
tum." When- Pausanias travelled in Greece, in the 
time of Hadrian, the priests of every city related to him 
the old local histories. They did not invent them, but 
had learned them in their annals. This sort of history 
was entirely local. It commenced at the foundation, 
because what had happened before this date was of no 
interest to the city; and this explains why the an- 
cients have so completely ignored thei-r earliest history. 
Their records related only to affairs in which the city 
had been engaged, and gave no heed to the rest of the 
world. Every city had its special history, as it had its 
religion and its calendar. 

We can easily believe that these city annals were 
exceedingly dry, and very whimsical, both in substance' 
and in form. They were not a work of art, but a re- 
ligious work. Later came the writers, the narrators, 

' Dionysiusf, II. 49. Livy, X. 33. Cicero, DeDivin.^ II. 41 ; 
I. 33 ; II. 23. Censorinus, 12, 17. Suetonius, Claudius, 42. 
Macrobius, I. 12; V. 19. Solin., 11. 9. Servius, VII. 678; 
VIII. 398. tetters of Mare. Aurel., IV. 4. 

" Plutarch, Corlt. Colot.,1'! ; Solon, l\; Mor cd. j 8G9. Athe- 
seus, XI. 49. Tac, Ann., IV. 43. 


like Herodotus ; the thinkei-s, like Thucydides. Histo- 
ry then left the hands of the priests, and became some- 
thing quite different. Unfortunately these beautiful 
and brilliant writings still leave us to regret the early 
annals of the cities, and all that they would have 
taught us of the beliefs and the inner life of the an- 
cients. But these books, which appear to have, been 
kept secret, which never left the sanctuaries, which 
were never copied, and which the priests alone read, 
have all perished, and only a feded recollection of them 
has remained. 

This trace, it is true, has a great value for us. With- 
out it we should perhaps have a right to reject all that 
Greece and Rome relate to us of their antiquities ; all 
those accounts, that appear to us so improbable, be- 
cause they differ so much from our habits and our man- 
ner of thinking and acting, might pass for the product 
of men's imaginations. But this trace of the old an- 
nals that has remained shows us the pious respect 
which the ancients had for their history. Every city 
had archives, in which the facts were religiously pre- 
served as fast as they took place. In these sacred 
books every page was contemporary with the event 
which it recorded. It was materially impossible to 
alter these documents, for the priests had the care of 
them; and it was greatly to the interest of religion 
that they should remain unalterable. It was not even 
easy for the pontiff, as he wrote the lines, skilfully to 
insert statements contrary to the truth; for he believed 
that all events came from the gods ; that he revealed 
their will, and that he was giving future generations 
subjects for pious souvenirs, and even for sacred acts. 
Every event that took place in the city commenced at 
once to form a part of the religion of the future. With 


such beliefs we can easily understand that there would 
be much involuntary error — a result of credulity, 
of a love for the marvellous, and of faith in the nation- 
al gods ; but voluntary falsehbod is not to be thought 
of; for that would have been impious; it would have 
violated the sanctityof the annals, and corrupted the 
religion. We can believe, therefore, that in these 
books, if all was not true, there was nothing at least 
that the priests did not believe. Now, for the his- 
torian who seeks to pierce the obscurity of those early 
times, it is a great source of confidence to know that, 
if he has to deal with errors, he has not to deal with 
imposture. These errors even, having still the advan- 
tage of being contemporary with those ancient ages 
that he is studying, may reveal to him, if not the de- 
tails of events, at least the sincere convictions of men. 

These annals, it is true, were kept secret ; neither 
Herodotus nor Livy read them. But several passages 
of ancient authors prove that some parts became pub- 
lic, and that fragments of them came to the knowl- 
edge of historians. 

There were, moreover, besides the anaals, — these 
written and authentic documents, — oral traditions, 
which were perpetuated among the people of a city ; 
not vague and indifferent traditions, like ours, but tra- 
ditions dear to the cities, such as did not vary to 
please the imagination, such as men were not at 
liberty to modify ; for they formed a part of th'e wor- 
ship, and were composed of narrations and songs that 
were repeated from year to year in the religious festi- 
vals. These sacred and unchangeable hymns fixed 
the memory of events, and perpetually revived the tra- 
ditions. Doubtless we should be wrong in believing 
that these traditions had the exactitude of the annals. 


The desire to praise the gods might be stronger than 
the love of truth. Still they must have been at least 
a reflection of the annals, and must generally have 
been in accord with them. For the priests who drew 
up and who read the annals were the same who pre- 
sided at the festivals where these old lays were sung. 

There came a time, too, when these annals were 
divulged. Rome finally published hers; those of other 
Italian cities were known ; the priests of <jreek cities 
no longer made any scruple of relating what theirs 
contained. , Men studied and compiled from these 
authentic monuments. There was formed a school of 
learned men from Varro and Verrius Flaccus to Aulus 
Gellius and Macrobius. Light was thrown upon all 
ancient history. Some ereors were corrected which 
had found their way into the traditions, and which the 
historians of the preceding period had repeated : men 
learned, for example, that Porsenna had taken Home, 
and that gold had been paid to the Gauls. The age 
of historical criticism had begun. But it is worthy of 
remark that this criticism, which went back to. the 
sources, and studied the annals, found nothing there 
that authorized it to reject the historic whole which 
writers like Herodotus and Livy had constructed. 


Government ^J;ke' City. The King. 

'^imgious Authority of the Kiny. 

We should not picture to ourselves a city, at its 
foundation, deliberating on the form of government 
that it will adopt, devising and discussing its laws, 
and preparing its institutions. It was not thus that 
laws were made and that governments were estab- 
lished. The political institutions of the city were bora 'iik 
with the city itself and on the same day with it. 
Every member of the city carried them within himself, «-- 
for the germ ©f them was in each man's belief and 

Religion prescribed that the hearth should always 
have a supreme priest. It did not permit the sacer- 
dotal authority to be divided. The domestic hearth 
had a high priest, who was the father of the family ; 
the hearth of the cury, had its curio, or phratriaroh ; 
every tribe, in the same manner, had its religious chief, 
whom the Athenians called the king of the tribe. It 
was also necessary that the city religion should have 
its supreme priest. 

This priest of the public hearth bore the name of 
king. Sometimes they gave him other titles. As he 
was especially the priest of the prytaneum, the Greeks 
preferred to call him the prytane ; sometimes also they 
called him the archon. Under these different names 
of king, pi-ytane, and archon we are to see a personage 
who is, above nil, the chief of the worship. He keeps 
up the fire, offers the sacrifice, pi'onounces the prayer, 
and presides at the religious repasts. 


It may^T°''*^ ^^^^^ to offer proof that the ancient 
kings of Gre!!^""*^ ^'^'^ ^^''^ priests. In Aristotle 
we°read, "The!*^°^^^^ P"^^'° sacrifices of the city 
belongs, according 'to '^■^Sious custom, not to special 
priests, but to those merr>*S^^°_f^''i^e their dignity 
from the hearth, and who in one pia-3C4^5 called kings, 
in another prytanes, and in a third archons; o^Thus 
wiiles Aristotle, the man who best understood the con- 
stitution of the Greek cities. This passage, so precise, 
shows, in the first place, that the three words king, 
prytane, and archoti were a long time synonymous. 
So true is this, that nn ancient historian, Charon of 
Lampsacus, writing a book about the kings of Lace- 
daemon, entitled it Archons and Prytanes of the Lace- 
doemonians? It shows also that the personage to 
whom was applied indifferently one of these three 
names — perh.ips all of them at the same time — was 
the priest of the city, and that the worship of the 
public hearth was the source of his dignity and power. 

This sacerdotal character of primitive royalty is 
clearly indicated by the ancient writers. In .^schylus 
the daughters of Danaus address the king of Argos 
in these terras : " Thou art the supreme prytane, and 
watchest over the hearth of this country." ' In Eurip- 
ides, Orestes, the murderer of his mothei-, says to 
Men'.'huis, "It is just that I, the son of Agamemnon, 
should reign at Argos." And Menelans replies, " Art 
thou, then, fit, — thou, a murderer, — to touch the ves- 
sels of lustral water for the sacrifices? Art thou fit to 
slay the victims ? " * The principal office of a king was, 

' Aristotle, Pdlit., VIL 5, 11 (VI. 8). Comp. DionyBius, 
II. Co. 

* Suidas, V. Xiqmv. ' ^sch., Supp., 361 (357). 

* Eiu'ipides, Orestes, 1605. 


therefore, to perform religious ceremonies. An ancient 
king of Sicyon was tleposed beeanse, having soiled his 
hands by a murder, he was no longer in a condition to 
oifer the sacrifices.' Being no longer fit for a priest, he 
could no longer be king. 

Homer and Virgil represent the kings as continually 
occupied with sacred ceremonies. We know from 
Demosthenes that the ancient Icings of Attica per- 
formed themselves all the saci'ifices that were pre- 
scribed by the religion of the city; and from Xenophon 
that the kings of Sparta were the chiefs of the Laoedee- 
monian leligion.'' The Etruscan Lucumones were, at 
the same time, magistrates, military chiefs, and pontifis." 

The case was not at all different with the Roman 
kings. Tradition always represents them as priests. 
The first was Romulus, who was acquainted with the 
science of augury, and who founded the city in accord- 
ance with religious rites. The second was Nuraa: 
he fulfilled, Livy tells us, the greater part of the priestly 
functions ; but he foresaw that his successors, often 
having wars to maintain, would not always be able to 
take care of the sacrifices, and instituted the flamens to 
replace the kings when the latter were absent from 
Rome. Thus the Roman priesthood was only an 
emanation from the primitive royalty. 

These king-priests were inaugurated with a religious 
ceremonial. The new king, being conducted to the 
summit of the Capitoliue Hill, was seated upon a stone 
seat, his face turned towards the south. On his left 
was seated an augur, his head oovej-ed with sacred 
fillets, and holding in his hand the augur's staff. He 

' Nie. Damas., Frag. Hist. Gr., t. III. p. 394. 

3 Demosthenes, in Necer. Xenophon, Goii. Laeed., 13. 

3 Virgil, X. 175. Livy, V. 1. Censorinus, i. 


marked off certain lines in the heavens, pronounced a 
prayer, and, placing his hand upon the king's head, 
supplicated the gods to show, by a visible sign, that 
this chief was agreeable to them. Then, as soon as a 
flash of lightning or a flight of birds had manifested the 
will of the gods, the new king took possession of his 
charge. Livy describes this ceremony for the installa- 
tion of Numa ; Dionysius assures us that it took place 
for all the kings, and after the kings, for the consuls ; 
he adds that it was still performed in his time,' There 
was a reason for such a custom ; as the king was to be 
supreme chief of the religion, and the safety of the city 
was to depend upon his prayers and sacrifices, it was 
important to make sure, in the first place, that this 
king was accepted by the gods. 

The ancients have left us no account of the manner 
in which the Spartan kings were elected ; but we may 
be certain that the will of the gods was consulted in 
the election. We can even see from old customs 
which survived to the end of the history of Sparta, 
that the ceremony by which the gods were consulted 
was renewed every nine yeara; so fearful were they 
that the king might lose the favor of the divinity. 
" Every nine years," says Plutarch, " the Ephors chose 
a very clear night, but without a moon, and sat in 
silence, with their eyes fixed upon the heavens. If they 
saw a star cross from one quarter of the heavens to the 
other, this indicated that their kings were guilty of 
some neglect of the gods. The kings were then sus- 
pended from their duties till an oracle came from 
Delphi to relieve them from their forfeiture." * 

' Livy, I. 18. Dionysius, 11. 6 ; IV. 80. 
* Plutarch, Agis, 11. 


2. Political Authority of the Sing. 

V^ust as in the family the authority was inherent in 
the priesthood, and the father, as head of the domestic 
worship, was at the same time judge and master, so 
the high priest of the city was at the same time its 
political chieiTJThe altar — to borrow an expression of 
Aristotle — conferred dignity and powei- upon him. 
There is nothing to surprise us in this confusion of the 
priesthood and the civil power. We find it at the 
beginning of almost all societies, either because during 
the infancy of a people nothing but religion will com- 
mand their obedience, or because our nature feels the 
need of not submitting to any other power than that 
of a moral idea. 

We have seen how the religion of the city was 
mixed up with everything. Man felt himself at every 
moment dependent upon his gods, and consequently 
upon this priest, who was placed between them and 
himself. This priest watched over the sacred fire; it 
was, as Pindar says, his daily worship that saved the 
city every day,' He it was who knew the formulas 
and prayers which the gods could not resist ; at the 
moment of combat, he it was who slew the victim, and 
drew upon the army the protection of the gods. It 
was very natural that a man armed with such a power 
should be accepted and recognized as a leader. From 
the fact that religion had so great a part in the gov- 
ernment, in the courts, and in war, it necessarily fol- 
lowed that the priest was at the same time magistrate, 
judge, and military chief "The kings of Sparta," says 
Aristotle,* "have three attributes: they perform the 

' Pindar, Nem., XI. 5. = Aristotle, Politics, III. 9. 

236 THE CITY. BOOK 111. 

sacrifices, they command in war, and they administer 
justice." Dionysius of Halicarnassus expresses himself 
in the same manner regarding the kings of Rome. 

Tiie constitutional rules of this monarchy were very 
simple ; it was not necessary to seek long for tliem ; 
they flowed from the rules of the worship themselves. 
The founder, who had established the sacred fire, was 
naturally the first priest. Hereditary succession was 
the constant rule, in the beginning, for the transmission 
of this worship. Whether the sacred fire was that of a 
family or that of a city, religion prescribed that the 
care of supporting it should always pass from father to 
son. ^he priesthood was therefore hereditary, and the 
power went with itj3 

A well-known fact in the history of Greece proves, 
in a striking manner that, in the beginning, the kingly 
office belonged to the man who set up the hearth of the 
city. We know that the population of the Ionian col- 
onies was not composed of Athenians, but that it was 
a mixture of Pelasgians, -^olians, Abantes, and Cad- 
raeans. Yet all the hearths of the cities were placed 
by the members of the religious family of Codrus. 

It followed that these colonists, instead of having for 
leaders men of their own race, — thePelasgi aPelasgian, 
the Abantes an Abantian, the jEoliaus an ^olian, — all 
gave the royalty in their twelve cities to the Codridaa.' 
Assuredly these persons had not acquired their author- 
ity by force, for they were almost the only Athenians 
in this numerous agglomeration. But as they had 

' We speak here only of the early ages of cities. We shall 
see, farther on, that a time came when hereditary succession 
ceased to' be the rule, and we shall explain why at Rome royalty 
was not hereditary. 

' Herodotus, I. 142-148. Pausanias, VI. Straho. 


established the sacred fires, it was their office to main- 
tain them. The royalty was, therefore, bestowed' upon 
them without a contest, and remained hereditary in 
their families. Battus had founded Cyrene in Africa ; 
and the Battiadse were a long lime in possession of 
the royal dignity there. Protis founded Marseilles; 
and the Protiadse, from father to son, performed the 
priestly office there, and enjoyed great privileges. 

It was not force, then, that created chiefs and kings 
in those ancient cities. It would not be correct to say 
that the first man who was king there was a lucky 
soldier. Authority flowed from the worship of the sa- 
cred fire. Religion created the king in the city, as it 
had made the family chief in the house. A belief, an 
unquestionable and imperious belief, declared that the 
hereditary priest of the hearth was the depositary of 
the holy duties and the guardian of the gods. How 
could one hesitate to obeyj such a man ? A king was 
I sacred being; dnadst; Jf go), says Pindar. Men saw 
in him, not a complete god, but at least "the most 
powerful man to call down the anger of the gods;" ' 
the man without whose aid no prayer was heard, no 
sacrifice accepted. 

This royalty,' semi-religious, semi-politieal, was estab- 
lished in all cities, from their foundation, without effi)rt 
on the part of the kings, without resistance on the part 
of the subjects. We do not see at the origin of the 
ancient nations those fluctuations and struggles which 
mark the painful establishment of modern societies. 
We know how long a time was necessary, after the fall 
of the Roman empire, to restore the rules of a regular 
society. Europe saw, during several centuries, opposing 

' Sophocles, (Edipus Rex, 34. 


principles dispute for the government of* the people, 
and the people at times rejecting all social organization. 
No such spectacle was seen in ancient (xreece, or in 
ancient Italy; their history does not commence with 
conflicts : revolutions appeared only at the close. 

Among these populations, society formed slowly and 
by degrees, while passing from the family to the trihe, 
and from the tribe to the city, but without shock and 
without a struggle. Royalty was established quite 
naturally, in the family first, in the city later. It was 
not devised in the imagination of a few ; it grew out 
of a necessity that was manifest to the eyes of all. 
During long ages it was peaceable, honored, and obeyed,- 
The kings had no need- of material force ; they had 
neither army nor treasury; but, sustained by a faith 
that hnd a powerful influence over the mind, their 
■ authority was sacred and inviolable. 

A revolution, of which we shall speak farther on, 
overturned the kingly power in every city ; but when 
it fell, it left no rancor in the hearts of men. That 
contempt, mingled with hatred, which ordinarily at- 
tends on fallen grandeui', it never experienced. Fallen 
as it was, the affection and respect of men remained 
attached to its memory. In Greece we -see something 
which is not very common in histoiy : in the cities 
where the royal family did not become extinct, not 
only was it not expelled, but the same men who had 
despoiled it of power continued to honor it. At 
Ephesus, at Marseilles, at Cyi-ene, the royal family, de- 
prived of power, remained surrounded, with the respect 
of the people, and even retained the title and insignia 
of royalty.? 

' Strabo, IV. 171 ; XIV. 632 ; XIII. 608. Athenaus, XIII. 


The people estafeKshed. republican institutions; but 
the name of king, far from becoming a reproach, re- 
mained a venerated title. It is customary to say that 
this word was odious and despised. This is a singular 
eri-or; the Romans applied it to the gods in their 
prayers. If the usurpers dared, not assume this title, it 
was not because it was odious, but rather because it 
was sacred.' In Greece monarchy was many times 
restored in the cities; but the new monarchs never 
claimed the right toi be called kings, and were satisfied 
to be called tyrants. What made the difference in 
these names was not the more or fewer moral qualities 
found in the sovereign. It was not the custom to call 
a good prince Mng' and a bad one tyrant. Religion 
was what distinguished one from the other; The prim- 
itive kings had performed the duties of priests, and had 
derived their anthoiity from the sacred fire ; the tyrants 
of a later epoch were merely political chiefs, and owed 
their elevation to force or election only. 


The Magistracy. 

The union of the political authority and the priest- 
hood in the same person did not cease with royalty. 
The revolution which established the republican regime, 
did not separate functions whose connection appeared 
natural, and was then the fundamental law of human 
society. The magistrate who replaced the king was, 

' Sanctitas regunt, Suetonius, JuNua Oasar, 6. Livy, III. 
S9v Ciceio, Bepul., I. 33. 


like him, a priest, and at the same time a political 

Sometimes this annual magistrate bore the sacred 
title of king.' In other places the title of prytane,^ 
which he retained, indicated his principal function. 
In other cities the title of archon prevailed. At Thebes, 
for example, the first magistrate was called by this 
name ; but what Plutarch says of this office shows that 
it differed little from the priesthood. This archon, dur- 
ing his term of office, was required to wear a crown,' 
as became a priest ; religion forbade him to let his hair 
grow, or to carry any iron object upon his person — a 
regulation which made him resemble the Roman flamen. 
The city of Platsea also had an archon, and the religion 
of this city required that, during his whole term of 
office, he should be clothed in white * — that is to say, 
in the sacred color. 

The Athenian archons, when entering upon their 
duty, ascended the Acropolis, their heads crowned with 
myrtle, and offered a sacrifice to the divinity of the 
city." It was also a custom for them, in the exercise 
of their duty, to wear a crown of leaves upon their 
heads." Now, it is certain that the crown, which in the 
course of time became, and has remained, the symbol 
of power, was then only a religious emblem, an ex- 
terior sign, which accompanied prayer and sacrifice.' 

' At Megara, at Samothrace. Livy, XLV. 5. Boeckli, Corp. 
Inscr., 1052. 

' Pindar, Nem., XI. ' Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 40. 

•* Plutarch, Arisiides, 21. 

" Tlmoydides, VHI. 70. ApoUodorus, Fragment, 21 (coll. 

* Demosthenes, in Meidiam, 33. Machines, in Timarch., 19. 

' Plutarch, Nicias, 3 ; Phocion, 37. Cicero, in Verr., IV. 50. 


Among the nine archons the one called king was 
especially a religious chief; but each of his colleagues 
had some sacerdotal function to fulfil, some sacrifice to 
offer to the gods.' 

The Greeks had a general expression to designate 
magistrates ; they said ot iv liXet, — which signified, 
literally, those who are to accomplish the sacrifice ;° 
an old expression, indicating the idea that was enter- 
tained of the magistrate in early times. Pindar says 
of these personages that, by the oflferings which they 
make to the sacred fire, they assure the safety of the 

At Rome the first act of the consul was to offer a 
sacrifice in the forum. Victims were brought to the 
public square; when the pontiff had declared them 
worthy of being offered,, the consul immolated them 
with his own hand, while a herald enjoined a religious 
silence upon the multitude, and a flute-player sounded 
the sacred air.' A few days later, the consul repaired 
to Laviniura, whence the Roman penates had come, and 
offered another sacrifice. 

When we examine the character of the magistrate 
among the ancients with a little attention, we see 
how slightly he resembles the chief of state of modern 
societies. Priesthood, justice, and command are con- 
founded in his person. He represents the city, which is 
a religious association, as much, at least, as a political 
one. He has in his handa the auispices,. the rites, 

» Pollux, VIII. ch. IX. Lycurgus (coll. Didot), t. II. p. 362. 

' Thucydides, I. 10; II. 10; III. 36; IV. 65. Comp. Herod- 
otus, L 133; III. 18; ^schylus, Pers., 204; Agam., 1202; 
Euripides, Track., 238. 

" Cicero, De Lege Agr., II. 34. Llvy, XXI. 63. Macrobius, 
III. 3. 



prayer, the protection of the gods. A consul is some- 
tiling more than a man; he is a mediator between man 
and the divinity. To his fortune is attached the pub- 
lic fortune; he is, as it were, the tutelary genius of the 
city. The death of a consul is calamitous to the re- 
public' When the consul Claudius Nero left his army 
to fly to the succor of his colleague, Livy shows us 
into how great alarm Rome was thrown for the fate 
of this army ; this was because, deprived of its chief, 
the army was at the same time deprived of its celestial 
protection ; with the consul, the auspices have gone — 
that is to say, religion and the gods. 

The other Roman magistracies, which were, in a 
certain sense, members successively detached from the 
3onsulship, like tliat office, united sacerdotal and politi- 
cal attributes. We have seen the censor, on certain 
days, with a crown upon his head, offering a sacrifice in 
the name of the city, and striking down a victim with 
his own hand. The pretors and the curule ediles pre- 
sided at religious festivals.^ There was no magistrate 
who had not some sacred act to perform ; for, in the 
minds of the ancients, all authority ought to have some 
connection with religion. The tribunes of the people 
were the only ones who had no sacrifice to offer; but 
they were not counted among the real magistrates. 
We shall see, farther along, that their authority was of 
an entirely exceptional nature. 

The sacerdotal character belonging to the magis- 
trate is shown, above all, in the manner of his election. 
In the eyes of the ancients the votes of men were not 
sufiScient to establish the ruler of a city. So long as 

' Livy, XXVII. 40. 

» Varro, L. L. VI. 54. Athenteua, XIV. 79. 


the primitive royalty lasted, it apjieared natural that 
this ruler should be designated by birth, by virtue of 
the religious law which prescribed that the son should 
succeed the father in every priestly office; birth 
seemed sufficiently to reveal the will of the gods. 
When revolutions had everywhere suppressed this roy- 
alty, men appear to have sought, in the place of birth, 
a mode of election which the gods might not have to 
disavow. The Athenians, like many Greek peoples, 
saw no better way than to draw lots; but we must not 
form a wrong idea of this procedure, which has been 
made a subject of reproach against the Athenian de- 
mocracy ; and for this reason it is necessary that we 
attempt to penetrate the view of the ancients on this 
point. For them the lot was not chance ; it was the 
revelation of the divine will. Just as they had re- 
course to it in the temples to discover the secrets of the 
gods, so the city had recourse to it for the choice of its 
magistrate. It was believed that the gods designated 
the most worthy by making his name leap out of the 
urn. This was the opinion of Plato himself, who says, 
"He on whom the lot falls is the ruler, and is dear to 
the gods ; and this we affirm to be quite just. The 
officers of the temple shall be appointe d by lot ; in this 
way their election will be committed to God, who will 
do what is agreeable to him." The city believed that in 
this manner it received its magistrates from the gods." 

• Plato, Laws, III. 690; VI. 759. Comp. Demetrius Phale- 
reus, Fragm., 4. It is surprising that modern historians rep- 
resent the drawing of lots as an invention of the Athenian 
democracy. It was, on the contrary, in full rigor under the rule 
of the aristocracy (Plutarch, Pericles, 9), and appears to have 
been as old as the archonship itself. Kor is it a democratic 
procedure : we know, indeed, that even in the time of Lysias 


AjGTairs are substantially the same at Rome. The 
designation of a consul did not belong to men. The 
will or the caprice of the people could not legitimately 
create a magistrate. This, therefore, was the manner 
in which the consul was chosen. A magistrate in 
charge — that is to say, a man already in possession of 
the sacred character and of the auspices — indicated 
among the dies fasti the one on which the consul 
ought to be named. Dui-ing the night which preceded 
this day, he watched in the open air, his eyes fixed 
upon the heavens, observing the signs which the gods 
sent, whilst he pronounced mentally the name of some 
candidate for the magistracy.* If the presages were 
favorable, it was because the gods accepted the candi- 
date. The next day the people assembled in the Cam- 
^s Martins ; the same oue who had consulted the 
gods presided at the assembly. He pi'onounced in a 
loud voice the names of the candidates concerning 
whom he had taken the auspices. If among those who 

and of Demosthenes, the names of all the citizens were not put 
in the urn (Lysias, Orat., de Invalido, c. 13 ; in Andocidem, c. 
4) : for a still stronger reason was this true when the Eupatrids 
only, or the Fentakosiomedimni could be archons. Passages of 
Plato show clearly what idea the ancients had of the drawing of 
lots ; the thought which caused it to be employed for magistrate- 
priests like the archons, or for senators charged with holy duties 
like the prytanes, was a religious idea, and not a notion of equal- 
ity. It is worthy of remark, that when the democracy gained 
the upper hand, it reserved the selection by lot for the choice 
of archons, to whom it left no real power, and gave it up in the 
choice of strategi, who then had the true authority. So that 
there was drawing of lots for magistracies which dated from the 
aristocratic age, and election for those that dated from the age 
pf the democracy. 

' Valerius Maximus, I. 1, 3. Plutarch, MarceUvs, 6. 


sought the consulship there was one for whom the 
auspices had not been fatorable, his name was omitted.' 
The people voted upon those names only which had 
been pronounced by the president." If the president 
named but two candidates, the people necessarily 
voted for them; if lie named three, they chose two of 
them. The assembly never had the right to vote for 
other men than those wliom the president had desig- 
nated ; for the auspices had been for those only, and 
for those only had the consent of the gods been as- 

This mode of election, which was scrupulously follow- 
ed in the first ages of th« republic, explains some pecu- 
liarities of Roman history which at first surprise us. We 
see, for example, that quite frequently the people are 
unanimous for two men for the consulshij , and still 
they are not elected. This is because tht president 
has not taken the auspices eoncerning these two men, 
or the auspices have not been favorable. On the other 
hand, we have seen the people elect to the consulship 
men whom they detested.' This was because the pres- 
ident pronounced only these two names. It was abso- 
lutely necessary to Vote for them, for the vote was not 
expressed by "yes" or "no;" every vote was required 
to contain two names, and none could be written ex- 
cept those that had been designated. The people, 
when candidates were presented who were odious to 
them, could indeed show their displeasure by retiring 
without a vote ; but there always remained in the en- 
closure citizens enough to make up a quorum. 

» Livy, XXXIX. 39. Velleius, II. 92. Valerius, 
III. 8, 3. 
' Dionysius, IV. 84; V. 19; V. 72; V. 77; VI. 49. 
' Livy, II. 42 ; II. 43. 

246 THE CITY. BOOK m. 

Here we see how great was the power of the presi- 
dent of the comitia, and we no longer wonder at the 
expression, Creat consules, which referred not to the 
people, but to the president of the comitia. It was 
of him, indeed, rather than of the people, that it might 
be said, "He creates the consuls;" for he was the one 
who discovered the will of the gods. If he did not cre- 
ate the consuls, it was at least through him that the 
gods created them. The power of the people went no 
farther than to ratify the election, or, at most, to se- 
lect among three or four names, if the auspices had 
been equally favorable to three or four candidates. 

Doubtless this method of procedure was very advan- 
tageous to the Roman aristocracy ; but we should 
deceive ourselves if we saw in all this merely A ruse 
invented by them. Such a ruse was never thought of 
in the ages when they believed in this religion. Politi- 
cally it was useless in the first ages, since at that time 
the patricians had a majority in voting. It might even 
have turned against them, by investing a single man 
with exorbitant power. The only explanation that can 
be given of this custom, or, rather, . of these rites of 
election, is, that every one then sincerely believed that 
the choice of the magistrates belonged, not to the peo- 
ple, but to the gods. The man in whose hands the 
religion and the fortune of the city were to be placed, 
ought to be revealed by the divine voice. 

The first rule for the election of a magistrate is the 
one given by Cicero: "That he be named accord- 
ing to the rites." If, several months afterwards, the 
senate was told that some rite had been neglected, or 
badly performed, it ordered the consuls to abdicate, 
and they obeyed. The examples are very numerous ; 
and if, in case of two or three of them, v/e may believe 


that the senate was very glad to be rid of an ill-qual- 
ified or ill-intentioned consul, the greater part of the 
time, on the contrary, we cannot impute other motives 
to them than religious scruples. 

When the lot or the auspices had designated an 
nrchon or a consul, there was, it is true, a sort of proof 
by which the merits of the newly-elected officer were 
examined. But even this will show us what ihe city 
wished to find in its magistrate; and we shall see that 
it sought not the most courageous warrior, not the 
ablest and most upright man in peace, but the one 
best loved by the gods. Indeed, the Athenian senate 
inquired of the magistrate elect if he had any bodily 
defect, if he possessed a domestic god, if his family 
had always been faithful to his worship,' if he himself 
had always fulfilled his duties towards the dead.' Why 
these questions ? Because a bodily defect — a sign of 
the anger of the gods — rendered a man unfit to fill 
any priestly office, and consequently to exercise any 
magistracy; because he who had no family worship 
ought not to have a national worship, and was not 
qualified to offer the sacrifices in the name of the city; 
because, if his family had not always been faithful to 
his worship, — that is to say, if one of his ancestors had 
committed one of those acts which affect religion, — the 
hearth was forever contaminated, and the descendants 
were detested by the gods ; finally, because, if he him- 
self had neglected the tomb of his dead, he was ex- 
posed to their dangerous anger, and was pursued by 
invisible enemies. The city would have been very 
daring to have confided its fortunes to such a man. 

' Plato, Laws, VI. Xenophon, Sfem., II. Pollux, VIII. S5, 
86, 95 


These are the principal questions that were addressed 
to one who was about to become a magistrate. It 
appeared that nien did not trouble themselves about 
his character or his knowledge. They tried especially 
to assure themselves that he was qualified for the priest- 
ly office, and that the religion of the city would not be 
compromised in his hands. 

This sort of examination was also in use at Home. 
We have not, it is true, any information as to the ques- 
tions which the consul was required to answer. Bat 
it is. enough to know that this examination was made 
by the pontiffs,' 

The Law. 

Amokg the Greeks and Romans, as among the Hin- 
dus, law was at first a part of religion. The ancient 
codes of the cities were a colleetion of rites, liturgical 
directions, and prayers, joined with legislative regula- 
tions. The laws concerning property and those con- 
cerning succession were scattered about in the midst 
of rules for sacrifices, for bui'ia,l, and for the worship of 
the duad. 

What remains to us of the oldest laws of Rome, 
which were called the Royal Laws, relates as often to 
the worship as to the relations of civil life. One for- 
bade a guilty woman to approach the altai-s; another 
forbade certain dishes to be served in the sacred re- 
pasts; a third prescribed what religious ceremony a 

' Dionysias, II. 73. 

(IHAP. XI. THE LAW. 249 

victorious general ought to perform on re-entering the 
city. The code of the Twelve Tables, although more 
recent, still contain minute regulations concerning the 
religious rites of sepulture. The work of Solon was 
at the same time a code, a constitution, and a ritual ; it 
regulated the order of sacrifices, and the price of vic- 
tims, as well as the maniage rites and the worship of 
the dead. 

Cicero, in his Laws, traces a plan of legislation which 
is not entirely imaginary. In the substance as in the 
form of bis code, he imitates the ancient legislators. 
Now, these are the first laws that he writes : " Let men 
approach the gods with purity ; let the temples of the 
ancestors and the dwelling of the Lares be kept up; 
let the priests employ in the sacred repasts only the 
prescribed kinds of food ; let every one offer to the 
Manes the worship that is due them." Assuredly the 
Roman philosopher troubled himself little about the old 
religion of the Lares and Manes ; but he was tracing a 
code in imitation of the nncient codes, and he believed 
himself bound to insert rules of worship. 

At Rome it was a recognized truth that no one could 
be a good pontiff who did not know the law, and, con- 
versely, that no one could know the law if he did not 
understand questions relating to religion. The pon- 
tiffs were for a long time the only jurisconsults. As 
there was hardly an act of life which had not some 
relation to religion, it followed that almost everything 
was submitted to the decision of these priests, and 
that they were the only competent judges in an infinite 
number of cases. All disputes regarding marriage, 
divorce, and the civil and religious rights of infants, 
were carried to their tribunal. They were judges in 
cases of incest as well as of celibacy. As adoption 


affected religion, it could not take place without the 
consent of the pontiff. To make a will was to break 
the order that religion had established for the trans- 
mission of property and of the worship. The will, 
therefore, in the beginning, required to be authorized 
by the pontiff. As the limits of every man's land were 
established by religion, whenever two neighbors had a 
dispute about boundaries, they had to plead before the 
priests called fratres arvales. This explains why the 
same men were pontiffs and jurists — law and reli^on 
were but one.' 

At Athens the archon and the king had very nearly 
the same judicial functions as the Roman pontiff." 

The origin of ancient laws appears clearly. ISo man 
invented them. Solon, Lycui-gus, Minos, Numa, might 
have reduced the laws of their cities to writing, but they 
could not have made them. If we understand by legis- 
lator a man who creates a code by the power of Jiis 
genius, and who imposes it upon other men, this legisla- 
tor never existed among the ancients. Nor did ancient 
law originate with the votes of the people. The idea 
that a certain number of votes might make a law did not 
appear in the cities till very late, and only after two 
revolutions had transformed them. Up to that time 
laws had appeared to men as something ancient, im- 
mutable, and venerable. As old as the city itself, the 
founder had established them at the same time that he 

' Hence this old definition, wiiich the jurisconsults pre- 
served even to Justinian's time — Jurisprudentia est reriim 
divinarum atgve humanarum notiiia. Cf. Cicero, De Legib. 
II. 9; II. 19; DeArusp.Eesp.,7. Dionysius, II. 73. Tacitus 
Ann., I. 10; Hist., I. 15. Dion Cassius, XLVIII. 44. Pliny, 
N. H., XVIII. 2. Aulus Gellius, V. 19; XV. 27. 

» Pollux, VIII. 90. 


established the heai-th — moresque viris et mcenia 
ponit. He instituted them at the same time that he 
instituted the religion. Still it could not be said that 
he had prepnred them himself. Who, then, was the 
true author of them V When we spoke above of the 
organization of the family, and of the Greek and Ro- 
man laws which regulated property, succession, wills, 
and adoption, we observed how exactly these laws cor 
responded to the beliefs of ancient generations. If we 
compare these laws with natural equity, we often find 
them opposed to it, and we can easily see that it was 
not in the notion of absolute right and in the sentiment 
of justice, that they were sought for. But place these 
laws by the side of the worship of the dead and of the 
sacred fire, compare them with the rules of this primi- 
tive religion, and they appear in perfect accord with 
all this. 

Man did not need to study his conscience and say, 
" This is just ; this is unjust." Ancient law was not 
produced in this way. But man believed that the 
sacred hearth, in virtue of the religious law, passed from 
father to son ; from this it followed tliat the house was 
hereditary property. The man who had buried his fa- 
ther in his field believed that the spirit of the dead one 
took possession of this field forever, and required a 
perpetual worship of his posterity. As a result of this, 
the field, the domain of the dead, and place of sacrifice, 
became the inalienable property of a family. Religion 
said, "The son continues the worship — not the daugh- 
ter ; " and the law said, with the religion, " The son 
inherits — the daughter does not inherit.; the nephew 
by the males inherits, but not the nephew on the female 
side." This was the manner in which the laws were 
made ; they presented themselves without being sought. 

252 THE CITY. BOOK in. 

They were the direct and necessary consequence of 
the belief; they were religion itself applied to the re- 
lations of men among themselves. 

The ancients said their laws came from the gods. 
The Cretans attributed their laws, not to Minos, but 
to Jupiter. The Lacedaemonians believed that their 
legislator was not Lycurgus, but Apollo. The Romans 
believed that Nuraa wrote under the dictation of one 
of the most powerful divinities of ancient Italy — the 
goddess Egeria. The Etruscans had received their 
laws from the god Tages. There is truth in all these 
traditions. The veritable legislator among the ancients 
was not a man, but the religious belief which men en- 

The laws long remained sacred. Even at the time 
when it was admitted that the will of a man or the 
votes of a people might make a law, it was still neccs- 
essary that religion should be consulted, and at least 
that its consent should be obtained. At Rome it was 
not believed that a unanimous vote was sufficient to 
make a law binding ; the decision of the people re- 
quired to be ratified by the pontiffs, and the augurs 
were required to attest that the gods were favorable 
to the proposed law.' 

One day, when the tribunes of the people wished to 
have a law adopted by the assembly of the tribes, a 
patrician said to them, "What right have you to make 
a new law, or to touch existing laws? You, who have 
not the auspices, you, who, in your assemblies, perform 
no religious acts, what have you in common with reli- 
gion and sacred things, among which must be reckoned 
the laws?"' 

> Dionysius, IX. 41 ; IX. 49. 

' Dionysius, X. 4. Livy, III. 31. 


From this we can understand the respect and at- 
tachment which the anQienta long had for their laws. 
In them they saw no human work, but one whose 
origin was holy. It was no vain word when Plato said, 
" To obey the laws is to obey the gods." He does no 
more than to express the Greek idea, when, in Crito, 
he exhibits Socrates giving his life because the laws 
demanded it of him. Before Socrates, there was writ- 
ten upon the rock of Thermopylae, "Passer-by, go and 
tell Sparta that we lie here in obedience to its laws." 
The law among the ancients was always holy, and iu 
the time of royalty it was the queen of the kings. Iu 
the time of the republic it was the queen of the peo- 
ple. To disobey it was sacrilege. 

In principle the laws were immutable, since they 
were divine. It is. worthy of remark that they were 
never abrogated. Men could indeed make new ones, 
but old ones still remained, however they might conflict 
with the new ones. The code of Draco was not abol- 
ished by that of Soloa; ' nor were the Royal Laws by 
those of the Twelve Tables. The stone on which the 
laws were engraved was inviolable ; or, at most, the 
least scrupulous only thought themselves permitted 
to tm-n it round. This principle was the great cause 
of the confusion which is observable among ancient 

Contradictory laws and those of different epochs 
were found together, and all claimed i-espect. In an 
oration of Isjeus we find two men contesting an inher- 
itance; each quotes a law in his fiivor; the two laws 
are absolute contraries, and are equally sacred. In the 
same manner the code of Manu preserves the ancient 

' Apdocides, I. 82, 83. Demosthenes, in Sverg.,, 71 

254 THE CITY, BOOK m. 

law which establishes primogenituve, and has another 
by the side of it which enjoins an equal division among 
the brothers. 

The ancient law never gave any reasons. Why 
should it ? It was not bound to give them ; it existed 
because the gods had made it. It was not discussed 
— it was imposed ; it was a work of authority ; men 
obeyed it because they had faith in it. 

During long generations the laws were not written; 
they were transmitted from father to son, with the 
creed and the formula of prayer. They were a sacred 
tradition, which was perpetuated around the family 
hearth, or the hearth of the city. 

The day on which men began to commit them to 
writing, they consigned them to the sacred books, to 
the rituals, among prayers and ceremonies. Varro cites 
an ancient law of the city of Tusculum, and adds that 
he read it in the sacred books of that city.' Dionysius 
of Halicarnassus, who had consulted the original docu- 
ments, says that before the time of the Decemvirs all 
the written laws at Rome were to be found in the books 
of the priests.* Later the laws were removed from the 
rituals, and were written by themselves ; but the cus- 
tom of depositing them in a temple continued, and 
priests had the cai'e of them. 

Written or unwritten, these laws were always formu- 
lated into very brief sentences, which may be com- 
pared in form to the verses of Leviticus, or the slocas 
of the book of Manu. It is quite probable, even, that 
the laws were rhythimical.' According to Aristotle, 
before the laws were written, they were sung.* Traces 

' Varro, L.L., VI. 16. » Dionysius, X. 1. 

' ffilian, F. B., II. 39. ■• Aristotle, Prohl., XIX. 28. 


of this custom have remained in language; the Ro- 
mans called Ibe laws carmina — verses ; the Greeks said 
vAfioi — songs.' 

These ancient verses were invariable texts. To 
change a letter of them, to displace a word, to alter 
the rhythm, was to destroy the law itself, by destroy- 
ing the sacred form under which it was revealed to 
man. The law was like prayer, which was agreeable 
to the divinity only on condition that it was recited 
correctly, and which became impious if a single word 
in it was changed. In primitive law, the exterior, the 
letter, is everything ; there is no need of seeking the 
sense or spirit of it. The value of the law is not in 
the moral principle that it contains, but in the words 
that make up tlie formula. Its force is in the sacred 
words that compose it. 

Among the ancients, and especially at Rome, the 
idea of law was inseparably connected with certain 
sacramental words. If, for example, it was a question 
of contract, one was expected to say, Dari spondes f • 
and the other was expected to reply, Spondeo. If these 
words were not pronounced, there was no contract. In 
-vain the creditor came to demand payment of the debt 
— the debtor owed nothing ; for what placed a man un- 
der obligation in this ancient law was not conscience, 
or the sentiment of justice; it was the sacred formula. 
When this formula was pronounced between two men, 
it established between them a legal obligation. Where 
there was no formula, the obligation did not exist. 

The strange forms of ancient Roman legal procedure 

' Nifim, to divide; rifiog, division, measure, rhythm, song. 
See Plutarch, -De Musica, p. 1133; Pindar, Pyth., XII. 41- 
fragm. , 190 (Edit. Hey ne) . Scholiast on Aristophanes, Knights, 
9 ; Ni'iftoi xaX.uivTai of ilt 6tout Vfiroi, 


woald not surprise us if we but recollected that an- 
cient law was a religion, a sacred text, and justice a col- 
lection of rites. The plaintiff pursues with the law — 
agit lege. By the text of the law he seizes his adver- 
sary: but let him be on his guard ; to have the law on 
his side, he must know its terms, and pronounce them 
exactly. If he speaks one word for another, the law 
exists no longer for him, and cannot defend bira. 
Gains gives an account of a man whose vines had been 
cut by his neighbor ; the fact was settled ; he pronounced 
the law. But the law said trees ; he pronounced vines, 
and lost his case. 

Repeating the law was not sufficient. There was 
also needed an accompaniment of exterior signs, 
which were, so to say, the rites of this religious cere- 
mony called a contract, or a case in law. For this 
reason at every sale the little piece of copper and 
the balance were employed. To buy an article, it was 
necessary to touch it with the hand — mancipatio ; and 
.if there was a dispute about a piece of property, there 
was a feigned combat — manuum consertio. Hence were 
derived the forms of liberation, those of emancipation, 
those of a legal action, and all the pantomime of legal 

As law was a part of teligion, it participated in the 
mysterious character of all this religion of the cities. 
The legal formulas, like those of religion, were kept se- 
cret. They were concealed from the stranger, and even 
from the plebeian. This was not because the patricians 
had calculated that they should possess a great power 
in the exclusive knowledge of the law, but because the 
la<w, by its origin and nature, long appeared to be a 
mystery, to which one could be initiated only after 
having first been initiated into the national worship 
and the domestic worship. 

CH'i.P. XI. THE LAW. 257 

The religious origin of ancient law also explains to 
us one of the principal characteristics of this law. Re- 
ligion was purely civil, that is to say, peculiar to each 
city. There could flow from it, therefore, only a civil 
law. But it is necessary to distinguish the sense which 
this word had among the ancients. When they said 
that the law was civil, — jus civile, v6/iot nolnixol, — tliey 
did not understand simply that every city had its code, 
as in our day every state has a code. They meant 
that their laws had no force, or power, except between 
the members of the same city. To live in a city did 
not make one subject to its laws and place him under 
their protection ; one had to be a citizen. The law 
did not exist for the slave ; no more did it exist for 
the stranger. 

We shall see, further along, that the stranger domi- 
ciled in a city could be neither a proprietor there, nor 
an heir, nor a testator ; he could not make a contract 
of any sort, or appear before the ordinary tribunals of 
the citizens. At Athens, if he happened to be the 
creditor of a citizen, he could not sue him in the courts 
for the payment of the debt, as the law recognized no 
contract as valid for him. 

These provisions of ancient law were perfectly logi- 
cal. Law was not born of the idea of justice, but of 
religion, and was not conceived as going beyond it. 
In order that there should be a legal relation between 
two men, it was necessary that there should already 
exist a religious relation; that is to say, that they 
should worship at the same hearth and have the same 
sacrifices. When this religious community did not 
exist, it did not seem that there could be any legal re- 
lation. Now, neither the stranger nor the slave had 
any part in the religion of the city. A foreigner and a 


citizen might live side by side during long years, with- 
out one's thinking of the possibility of a legal relation 
being established between them. Law was nothing 
more than one phase of religion. Where there was no 
common religion, there was no common law. 

The Citizen and the Stranger. 

The citizen was recognized by the fact that he had 
la part in the religion of the city, and it was from this 
participation that he derived all his civil and political 
I ights. If he renounced the worship, he renounced the 
rights. We have ab'eady spoken of the public meals, 
which were the principal ceremony of the national wor- 
ship. "How, at Sparta, one who did not join in these, 
even if it was not his fault, ceased at once to be count- 
id among the citizens.' At Athens, one who did not 
take part iu the festivals of the national gods lost the 
rights of a citizen.^ At Rome, it was necessary to have 
been present at the sacred ceremony of the lustration, 
in order to enjoy political rights.' The man who had 
not taken part in this — that is to say, who had not 
joined in the common prayer and the sacrifice — lost 
his citizenship until the. next lustration. 

' Aristotle, PolUics, II. 6, 21 (II. 7). 

' Boeckh, Corp. Inscr., 3641, 6. 

' VelleiuS, II. 15. Soldiers on » campaign were excepted; 
but tlie censor was required to liare their names taken, so that, 
having been registered in the ceremony, they were considered 
as present. 


If we wished to give an exact definition of a citizen, 
we should say that it was a man who had the religion 
of the city." The stranger^ on the contrary, is one who 
has not access to the worship, one whom the gods of V 
the city do not protect, and who has not even the right 
to invoke them. For these national gods do not wish trt 
receive prayers and oiBEering except from citizens ; they 
repulse the stranger; entrance into their temples is for- 
bidden to him, and his presence during the sacrifice is a 
Sacrilege. Evidence of this ancient sentiraetit of repul- 
sion has i-emained in one of the principal rites of Roman 
worship. The pontifij when he sacrifices in the open 
air, must have his head veiled : " For before the sacred 
fires in the religions act which is ofifered to the national 
gods, the face of a stranger must not appear to the 
pontiff; the auspices would be disturbed."* A sacred 
object which fell for a moment into the hands of a 
stranger at once became profane. It could not recovei 
ks religious character except by an expiatory ceremo- 
ny.' If the enemy seized upon a city, and the citizens 
succeeded in recovering it, above all things it was im- 
portant that the temples should be purified and all the 
fires extinguished and rekindled. The presence of the 
stranger had defiled them.'' 

Thus religion established between the citizen and the 
stranger a profound and ineffaceable distinction. This 

' Demosthenes, in NecBram, 113, 114. Being a citizen was 
called, in Greek, avmXw', tliiit is. to say, malting the sacrifice 
together, Or ^ursivat Hqviv xul ooitov, 

* Virgil, ^n., III. 406. Festus, v. Exesto : Lictor in qui- 
hiisdam sacris elamitabat, hostis exesto. Hostis, as we know, 
meant stranger (^Macrobius I. 17) ; hostilis fades, in Virgil, 
means the face of a stranger. 

' Digest, XI. tit. 6, 36. 

* Plutarch, Arisiides, 20. Livy, V. 50. 


same religion, so long as it held its sway over the 
minds of men, forbade the right of citizenship to be 
granted to a stranger. In the time of Herodotus, 
Sparta had accorded it to no one except a prophet; 
and even for this the formal command of the oracle 
was necessary. Athens granted it sometimes; but 
with what precautions ! First, it was necessary that 
the united people should vote by secret ballot for the 
admission of the stranger. Even this was nothing as 
yet ; nine days afterwards a second assembly had to 
confirm the previous vote, and in this second case six 
thousand votes were required in favor of the admis- 
sion — a number which will appear enormous when we 
recollect that it was very rare for an Athenian assem- 
bly to comprise so many citizens. After this a vote of 
the senate was required to confirm the decision of this 
double assembly. Finally, any citizen could oppose a 
sort of veto, and attack the decree as contrary to the 
ancient laws. Certainly there was no other public act 
where the legislator was surrounded with so many dif- 
ficulties and precautions as that which conferred upon 
a stranger the title of citizen. The formalities to go 
through were not near so great in declaring war, or in 
passing a new law. Why should these men oppose so 
many obstacles to a stranger who wished to become a 
citizen? Assuredly they did not fear that in the po- 
litical assemblies his vote would turn the balance. 
Demosthenes gives us the true motive and the true 
thought of the Athenians : " It is because the purity 
of the sacrifices must be preserved." To exclude the 
stranger was to " watch over the sacred ceremonies." 
To admit a stranger among the citizens was "to give 
him a part in the religion and in the sacrifices." ' Now, 
' Demosthenes, in Necsram, 89, 91, 92, 113, 114. 


for such an act the people did not consider themselves 
untirely free, and were seized with religious scruples; 
for they knew that the national gods were disposed to 
repulse the stranger, and that the sacrifices would per- 
haps be rendered useless by the presence of the new 
comer. The gift of the rights of a citizen to a stranger 
was a real violation of the fundamental principles of 
the national religion ; and it is for this reason that, in 
the beginning, the city was so sparing of it. We must 
also note that the man admitted to citizenship with so 
much difficulty could be neither archon nor priest. 
The city, indeed, permitted him to take part in its 
worship, but' as to presiding at it, that would have 
been too much. 

No one could become a citizen at Athens if he was a 
citizen in another city ; ' for it was a religious impos- 
sibility to be at the same time a member of two cities, 
as it also was to be a member of two families. One 
could not have two religions at the same time. 

The participation in the worship carried with it the 
possession of rights. As the citizen might assist in the 
sacrifice which preceded the assembly, he could also 
vote at the assembly. As he could perform the sacri- 
fices in the name of the city, he might be a prytane 
and- an archon. Having the religion of the city, he 
might claim rights under its laws, and perform all the 
ceremonies of legal procedure. 

The stranger, on the contrary, having no part in the 
religion, had none in the law. If he entered the sacred 
enclosure which the priests had traced for the assem- 
bly, he was punished with death. The laws of the 
city did not exist for him. If he had committed a 

' Plutarch, Solon, 24. Cicero, P7-o Qacina, 34. 



crime, he was treated as a slave, and punished without 
process of law, the city owing him no legal protection.' 
When men arrived at that stage that they felt the need 
of havmg laws for the stranger, it was necessary to 
establish an exceptional tribunal. At Rome, in order 
to judge the alien, the pretor had to become an alien 
himself — prcetor peregrinus. At Athens the judge 
of foreigners was the polemaich — that is to say, the 
magistrate who was charged with the cares of war, and 
of all transactions with the enemy.' 

Neither at Rome nor at Athens could a foreigner be 
a proprietor.' He could not marry; or, if he married, 
his marriage was not recognized, and his children were 
reputed illegitimiite.'' lie could not make a contract 
with a citizen ; at any rate, the law did not recognize 
such a contract as valid. At first he could take no 
part in commerce.* The Roman law forbade him to 
inherit from a cilizen, and even forbade a citizen to in- 
herit from him." They pushed this principle so far, 
that if a foreigner obtained the rights of a citizen with 
out his son, born before this event, obtaining the same 
favor, the son became a foreigner in regard to his 
father, and could not inherit from him.'' The distinc- 
tion between citizen and foreigner was stronger than 
the natural tie between father and son. 

At first blush it would seem as if the aim had been 

' Aristotle, Politics, III. 1, 3. Plato, Laws, VI. 
' Demosthenes, in Neasram, i9. Lysias, in Pancleonem. 
' Gaius, fr. 234. 

* Gaius, I. 67. TJlpian, V. 4-9. Paulug, 11. 9. Aristophanes, 
Birds, 1652. 

° Ulpian, XIX. 4. Demosthenes, Pro Phorm.; i,i Eubul. 
° Cicero, Pro Archia, 5. Gaius, II. 110. 
' Pausijmas, VIII. 43. 


to establish a system that should be vexatious towards 
foreigners ; but there was nothing of this. Athens and 
Rome, on the contrary, gave him a good reception, both 
for commercial and political reasons. But neither their 
good will nor their interest could abolish the ancient 
laws which religion had established. This i-eligion did 
not permit the stranger to become a proprietor, because 
he could not have any part in the religious soil of the 
city. It permitted neither the foreigner to inherit from 
the citizen, nor the citizen to inherit from the foreigner; 
because every transmission of property carried with it 
the transmission of a worship, and it was as impossible 
for the citizen to perform the foreigner's worship as for 
the foi'eigner to perform the citizen's. 

Citizens could welcome the foreigner, watch over 
him, even esteem him if he was rich and honorable; 
but they could give him no part in their religion or 
their laws. The slave in certain respects was better 
treated than he was, because the slave, being a member 
of the family whose worship he shared, was connected 
with the city through his master ; the gods protected 
him. The Roman religion taught, therefore, that the 
tomb of the slave was sacred^ but that the foi-feigner's 
was not.' 

A foreigner, to be of any account in the eyes of the 
law, to be enabled to engage in trade, to make con- 
tracts, to enjoy his property securely, to have the benefit 
of the laws of the city to protect him, must become the 
client of a citizen. Rome and Athens required every 
foreigner to adopt a patron.'' By choosing a citizen as 
a patron the foreigner became connected with the city. 

' Digest, XI. tit. 7, 2; XLVJI. tit. 12, 4. 
• HarpocratiODi, TtQoerax^q. 


Thenceforth he participated in some of the benefits of 
the civil law, and its protection was secured. 

Patriotism. Exile. 

The word country, among the ancients, signified the 
land of the fathers, terra patria — fatherland. The 
fatherland of every man was that part of the soil which 
his domestic or national religion had sanctified, the 
land where the rerar.itis of his ancestors were deposited, 
and which their souls occupied. His little fatherland 
was the family enclosure with its tomb and its hearth. 
The great fatherland was the city, with its prytaneum 
and its heroes, with its sacred enclosure and its terri- 
tory marked out by religion. " Sacred fatherland " the 
Greeks called it. Nor was it a vain word ; this soil 
was, indeed, sacred to man, for his gods dwelt there. 
State, city, fatherland : these words were no abstraction, 
as they are among the moderns ; they really represented 
a group of local divinities, with a daily worship and 
beliefs that had a powerful influence over the soul. 

This explains the patriotism of the ancients — an en- 
ergetic sentiment, which, for them, was the supreme 
virtue to which all other virtues tended. Whatever 
man held most dear was associated with the idea of 
country. In it he found his property his security, his 
laws, his faith, his god. Losing it he lost everything. 
It was almost impossible that private and public in- 
terests could conflict. Plato says, " Our country begets 
us, nourishes us, educates us ; " and Sophocles says, 
"It is our country that preserves us." 


Such a country is not simply a dwelling-place for 
man. Let him leave its sacred walls, let him pass the 
sacred limits of its territory, and he no longer finds for 
himself either a religion or a social tie of any kind. 
Everywhere else, except in his own country, he is out- 
side the regular life and the law; everywhere else he 
is without a god, and shut out from all moral life. 
There alone he enjoys his dignity as a man, and his 
duties. Only there can he be a man. 

Country holds man attached to it by a sacred tie. 
He must love it as he loves his religion, obey it as he 
obeys a god. He must give himself to it entirely. Ho 
must love his country, whether it is glorious or obscure, 
prosperous or unfortunate. He must love it for its 
favors, and love it also for its severity. Socrates, un- 
justly condemned by it, must not love it the less. He 
must love it as Abraham loved his God, even to sacri- 
ficing his son for it. Above all, one must know how to 
die for it. The Greek or Roman rarely dies on account 
of his devotion to a man, or for a point of honor ; but 
to his country he owes his life. For, if his country is 
attacked, his religion is attacked. He fights literally 
for his altars and his fires, j)ro aris et focis ; for if the 
enemy takes his city, his altars are overturned, his fires 
are extinguished, his tombs are profaned, his gods are 
destroyed, his worship is effaced. I The piety of the 
ancients was love of country. | 

The possession of a country was very precious, for 
the ancients imagined few chastisements more cruel 
than to be deprived of it. The ordinary punishment 
of great crimes was exile. 

Exile was really the interdiction of worship. To 
exile a man was, according to the formula used both 
by the Greeks and the Romans, to cut him off from 

266 THE CITT. BOOK m, 

both fire and water.' By this fire we are to understand 
the sacred fire of the health ; by this water the lustral 
water which served for the sacrifices. Exile, therefore, 
placed man beyond the reach of religion. "Let him 
flee," were the words of the sentence, " nor ever ap- 
proach the temples. Let no citizen speak to or receive 
him ; let no one admit him to the prayers or the sacri- 
fices ; let no one ofier the lustral water." ' Every house 
was defiled by his presence. The man who received 
him became impure by his touch. "Any one who shall 
have eaten or draiik with him, or who shall have 
touched him," said the law, " should puiify hiraselt!." 
Under the ban of this excommunication the exile could 
take pai-t in no religious ceremony ; he no longer had 
a worship, sacred repatts, or prayers; he was disin- 
herited of his portion of religion. 

We can easily understand that, for the ancients, God 
was not everywhere. If they had some vague idea of 
a God of the universe, this was not the one whom they 
considered as their providence, and whom they invoked. 
Every man's gods were those who inhabited his house, 
his canton, his city. The exile, on leaving liis country 
behind him, also left his gods. He no longer fband 
a religion that could console and protect him ; he no 
longer felt that providence was watching over him ; 
the happiness of praying was taken away. All that 
could satisfy the needs of his soul was far away. 

Ifow, religion was the source whence flowed civil 
and political rights. The exile, therefore, lost all this 
in losing his religion and country. Excluded from the 
city worship, he saw at the same time his domestic 

' Herodotus, VII. 231. Cvatimxs, in Aihenaus, XI. 3. Cicero, 
Pro Domo, 20. Livy, XXV. 4. Ulpian, X. 3. 

* Sophocles, (Edipus Bex, 239. Plato, Laws, IX. 881. 

CHAP. xm. EXILE. 267 

■worship taken from him, and was forced to extinguish 
his hearth-fire.' He could no longer hold property ; his 
goods, as if he was dead, passed to his children, unless 
they were confiscated to the profit of the gods or of the 
state.'' Having no longer a worship, be had no longer a 
family; he ceased to be a husband and a father. His 
sons were no longer in his power;' his wife was no 
longer his wife,* and might immediately take another 
husbaad. Regulus, when a prisoner of the enemy, the 
Roman law looked upon as an exile ; if the senate asked 
his opinion, he refused to give it, because an exile was 
no longer a senator j if his wife and children ran to him, 
he repulsed their embraces, because for an exile there 
were no longer wife and children, — 

" Fertur pudicse conjugis osculum 
Parvosqne natos, ut capitis minor, 
A se removisse." * 

" The exile," says Xenophon, " loses home, liberty, 
country, wife, and children." When he dies, he has 
not the right to, be buried in the toinb of his family, 
for he is. an alien.' 

It is not surprising that the ancient republics almost 
all permitted a convict to escape death b^ flight. Exile 
did not seem ta be a milder punishmeni than death. 
The Roman jurists called it ca,pital punishment. 

' Ovid, Trist., I. 3, 43. 

' Pindar, Pyih., IV. 517. Plato, Laws, IX. 877. Diodorus, 
XIII. 49. Dionysius, XI. 46. Livy, III. 58. 
^ Insiituies of Justini7,n, I. 12. Gaius, I. 128. 
" Dionysius, VIII. 41 . 
' Horase^ Qde^, III. " Thucydides, I. 138. 

268 THE CITY. BOOK in. 

The Mnuicipal Spirit, 

What we have already seen of ancient institntions, 
and above all of ancient beliefs, has enabled ns to obtain 
an idea of the profound gulf which always separated 
two cities. However near they might be to each other, 
they always formed two completely separate societies. 
Between them there was much more than the distance 
which separates two cities to-day, much more than the 
frontier which separates two states ; their gods were 
not the same, or their ceremonies, or their prayers. 
The worship of one city was forbidden to men of a 
neighboring city. The belief was, that the gods of 
one city rejected the homage and prayers of any one 
who was not their own citizen. 

These ancient beliefs, it is true, were modified and 
softened in the course of time ; but they had been in 
their full vigor at the time when these societies were 
formed, and these societies always preserved the im- 
pression of them. 

Two facts we can easily underatand : first, that this 
religion, peculiar to each city, must have established 
the city in a very strong and almost unchangeable 
manner ; it is, indeed, marvellous how long this social 
organization lasted, in spite of all its faults and all its 
chances of ruin ; second, that the efiect of this religion, 
during long ages, must have been to render it impossi- 
ble to establish any other social form than the city. 

Every city, even by the requirements of its religion, 
was independent. It was necessary that each should 


have its particular code, since each had its own re- 
ligion, and the law flowed from the religion. Each 
was required to have its sovereign tribunal, and there 
could be no judicial tribunal superior to that of the 
city. Each had its religious festivals and its calendar ; 
the months and the year could not be the same in two 
cities, as the series of religious acts was different. Each 
had its own money, which at first was marked with its 
religious emblem. Each had its weights and measures. 
It was not admitted that there could be anything com- 
mon between two cities. The line of demarcation was 
so profound that one hardly imagined marriage possible 
between the inhabitants of two different cities. Such 
a union always appeared strange, and was long con- 
sidered illegal. The legislation of Rome and that of 
Athens were visibly averse to admitting it. N'early 
everywhere children born of such a marriage were con- 
foiinded with bastards, and deprived of the rights of 
citizens. To make a marriage legal between inhabit- 
ants of two cities, it was necessary that there should 
be between those cities a particular convention — jus 

COnnuhii, imya/ila. 

Every city had about its territory a line of sacred 
bounds. This was the horizon of its national religion 
and of its gods. Beyond these bounds other gods 
reigned, and another worship was practised. 

The most salient characteristic of the history of 
Greece and of Italy, before the Roman conquest, is the 
excessive division of property and the spirit of isola- 
tion in each city. Greece never succeeded in forming a 
single state ; nor did the Latin or the Etruscan cities, or 
the Samnite tribes, succeed in forming a compact body. 
The incurable division of the Greeks has been attributed 
to the nature of their country, and we are told that the 

270 THE CITY. BOOK m. 

mountains which intersect each other establish natural 
/lines of demarcation among men. But there were no 
mountains between Thebes and Plataea, between Argos 
and Sparta, between Sybaris and Crotona. There 
were none between the cities of Latium, or between 
the twelve cities of Etruria. Doubtless physical na- 
ture has some influence upon the history of a people, 
but the beliefs of men have a much more powerful 
one. In ancient times there was something more im- 
passable than mountains between two neighboring 
cities ; there were the series of sacred bounds, the dif- 
i- ference of worship, and the hatred of the gods towards 
the foreigner. 

For this reason the ancients were never able to es- 
tablish, or even to conceive of, any other social organiza- 
tion than the city. Neither the Greeks, nor the Latins, 
nor even the Romans, for a very long time, ever had a 
thought that several cities might be united, and live on 
an equal footing under the same government. There 
might, indeed, be an alliance, or a temporary association, 
in view of some advantage to be gained, or some 
danger to be repelled ; but there was never a complete 
union ; for religion made of every city a body which 
could never be joined to another. Isolation was the 
law of the city. 

With the beliefs and the religious usages which we 
have seen, how could several cities ever have become 
united in one state? Men did not understand human 
association, and it did not appear regular, unless it was 
founded upon religion. The symbol of this association 
was a sacred repast partaken of in common. A few 
thousand citizens might indeed literally unite around 
the same prytaneum, recite the same prayer, and par- 
take of the same sacred dishes. But how attempt, with 


these usages, to make a single state of entire Greece? 
How could men hold the public repasts, and perform 
all the sacred ceremonies, in which every citizen was 
bound to take a part ? Where would they locate the 
prytaneum? How would they perform the annual 
lustration of the citizens ? What would bocome of 
the inviolable limits which had from the beginning 
marked out the territory of the city, and which sepa- 
rated it forever from the rest of the earth's surface ? 
What would become of all the local worships, the city 
divinities, and the heroes who inhabited every canton ? 
Athens' had within her limits the hero OEdipus, the 
enemy of Thebes : how unite Athens and Thebes in 
the same worship and under the same government? 

When these superstitions became weakened (and 
this did not happen till a late period, in common minds), 
it was too late to establish a new form of state. The 
division had become consecrated by custom, by inter- 
est, by inveterate hatreds, and by the memory of past 
struggles. Men could no longer return to the past. 

Every city held fast to its autonomy : this was the 
name they gave to an assemblage which comprised 
their worship, their laws, their government, and their 
entire religious and political independence. 

It was easier for a city to subject another than to 
annex it. Victory might make slaves of all the inhab- 
itants of a conquered city, but they could not be made 
citizens of the victorious city. To join two cities in a 
single state, to unite the conquered population with 
the victors, and associate them under the same govern- 
ment, is what was never seen among the ancients, with 
one exception, of which we shall speak presently. If 
Sparta conquered Messenia, it was not to make of the 
Spartans and Messenians a single people. The Spar 

272 THE CITY. BOOK in. 

tans expelled the whole race of the vanquished, and 
took their lands< Athens proceeded in the same man- 
ner with Salamis, ^gina, and Melos. 

The thought of removing the conquered to the city 
of the victors could not enter the mind of any one. 
The city possessed gods, hymns, festivals, and laws, 
which were its precious patrimony, and it took good 
care not to share these with the vanquished. It had 
not even the right to do this. Could Athens admit 
that a citizen of ^gina might enter the temple of 
Athene Polias? that he might offer his worship to 
Theseus? that he might take part in the sacred re- 
pasts ? that, as a prytane, he might keep up the public 
fire ? Religion forbade it. The conquered population 
of the isle of ^gina could not, therefore, fonn a single 
state with the population of Athens. Not having the 
same gods, the ^ginetans and the Athenians could not 
have the same laws or the same magistrates. 

But might not Athens, at any rate, leaving the 
conquered city intact, send magistrates within its walls 
to govern it?. It was absolutely contrary to the prin- 
ciples of the ancients to place any man over a city, who 
was not a citizen of it. Indeed, the magistrate was a 
religious chief, and his principal function was to sacri- 
fice in the name of the city. The foreigner, who had 
not the right to offer the sacrifice, could not therefore 
be a magistrate. Having no religious function, he had 
not in the eyes of men any regular authority. Sparta 
attempted to place its harmosts in the cities, but these 
men were not magistrates; they did not act as judges, 
or appear in the assemblies. Having no regular rela- 
tion with the people of the cities, they could not main- 
tain themselves there for any great length of time. 

Every conqueror, consequently, had only the alterna- 


tive of destroying a subdued city and occupying its 
territory, or of leaving it entirely independent. There 
was no middle course. Either the city ceased to exist, 
or it was a sovereign state. So long as it retained its 
worship, it retained its government; it lost the one 
only by losing the other ; and then it existed no longer. 
This absolute independence of the ancient city conld 
only cease when the belief on which it was founded 
had completely disappeared. After these ideas had 
been transformed and several revolutions had passed 
over these antique societies, then men might come to 
have an idea of, and to establUh, a larger state, gov- 
erned by other rules. But for this it was necessary 
that men should discover other principles and other 
social bonds than those of the ancient ages. 


Belations between the Cities. War. Peace. The Alli- 
ance of the Gods. 

This religion, which exercised so powerful an empire 
over the interior life of the city, intervened with the 
same authority in all the relations between cities. We 
may see this by observing how men of those ancient 
ages carried on war, how they concluded peace, and 
how they formed alliances. 

Two cities were two religious associations which had 
not the same gods. When they were at war it was 
not the men alone who fought — the gods also took jjart 
in the struggle. Let no one suppose that this wns 
simply a poetical fiction. There was among the gn- 

274 THE CITT. BOOK m. 

cients a very definite and a very vivid belief, by 'reason 
of which each array took its gods along with it. Men 
believed that these gods took an active part in the bat- 
tle ; the soldiei-s defended them and they (defended th« 
soldiers. While fighting against the enemy, each one 
believed he was fighting against the gods of another 
city. These foreign gods he was permitted to detest, 
to abuse, to strike ; he might even make them prison- 
ers. Thus war had a sti-ange aspect. ~We must pic- 
ture to ourselves two armies facing each other : in the 
midst of each are its etatues, its a\tm;vaad its stan- 
dards, which are sacred emblem«; each has its orades, 
which have promised it success ; its augurs, and its 
soothsayers, who assure it thevictory. Before the bat- 
tle each soldier in the two armies thinks and says, like 
the Greek in Euripides, "The gods who fight for us 
are more powerful than those of our enemies." Each 
army pronounces against the other an imprecation like 
that which Macrobins has preserved — " O gods, spread 
fear, terror, and misfortune among our Quemies. Let 
these men, and "whoever inhabits bheir lands and ciii^, 
be deprived by you of the light of the sun. May their 
city, and their lands, and their heads, and their persons, 
be devoted to you." After this imprecation, they rush 
to battle on both sides, with that savage fury which 
the notion that they have gods fighting for'them and 
that they are fighting against strange gods inspires in 
them. There is no mercy for the enemy ; war is im- 
placa,ble ; religion presides over the struggle, and ex- 
cites the combatants. There can be no superior rule 
to moderate the desire for slaughter; they are permit- 
ted to kill the prisoners and the wounded. 

Even outside the field of battle they have no idea 
of a duty of any kind towards the enemy. There are 

CHAP. XV. WAR. 275 

never anyrights for a foreigner, least of all in time 
of war. 'No one was required to distinguish the just 
from the niijuat in respect to him. Mucins Scsev- 
61a and all the Romans believed it was a glorious 
deed to assasBinate an enemy. The consul Mai-cius 
boasted publicly of having deceived the king of Mace- 
donia. Paulus'JEmilius sold as slaves a hundred thou- 
sand Epirots who had voluntarily surrendered them- 
selves to him. 

The Lacedaemonian Phebidas seized upon the cita- 
del of the Thebains in time of peace. Agesilaus was 
questioned upon the justice of this action. "Inquire 
only if it is useful," said the king; "for whenever an 
action is useful to our country, it is right." This was 
the international law of ancient cities. Another king 
of Sparta, Cleomenes, said that all the evil one could 
do to enemies was always just in theieyes of gods and 

The conqueror could use his victory as he pleased. 
Jfo human or divine law restrained his vengeance or 
his cupidity. The day on wliich the Athenians decreed 
that all the Mitylenseans, without distinction of age or 
sex, should be exterminated, they 'did not dream of 
transcending their rights; and when, on the next day, 
they revoked their decree, and contented themselves 
with putting a thousand citizens to death, and confis- 
cating all the lands, theyithought themselves humane 
and indulgent. After the taking of Platsea, the men 
were put to death, and the women sold; and yet^no 
one accused the conquerors of having violated any law. 

These men made wai- :not only upon soldiers, but 
upon an entire population, men, women, children, and 
slaves. They waged it not only against human beings, 
but against fields and crops. They burned houses and 


cut down trees ; the harvest of the enemy was ulmost 
always devoted to the infernal gods, and consequently 
burned. They exterminated the cattle; they even de- 
stroyed the seed which might produce a crop the fol- 
lowing year. A war might cause the name and race 
of an entire people to disappear at a single blow, and 
change a fertile country into a desert. It was by 
virtue of this law of war that the Romans extended 
a solitude around their city ; of the territory where the 
Volecians had twenty-three cities, it made the Pontine 
marshes ; the flfty-thTee cities of Latium have dis- 
appeared ; in Samniura, the places where the Roman 
armies had passed could long be recognized, less by 
the vestiges of their camps than by the solitude which 
reigned in the neighborhood. 

When the conquerors did not exterminate the van- 
quished, they had a right to suppress their city — that 
is to say, to break up their religious and political asso- 
ciation. The worship then ceased, and the gods were 
forgotten. The religion of the city being destroyed, 
the religion Of every family disappeared at the same 
time. The sacred fires were extinguished. With the 
worship fell the laws, civil rights, the family, property, 
everything that depended upon religion.' Let us listen 
to the prisoner whose life is spared; he is made to pro- 
nounce the following formula : " I give my person, my 
city, my land, the water that flows over it, my boundary 
gods, my temples, my movable property, everything 
which pertains to the gods, — these I give to the Ro- 
man people.'" Prom this moment the gods, the tem- 
ples, the houses, the lands, and the people belonged to 

' Cicero, in Verr., II. 3, 6. Siculus Flaceus, passim. Thu- 
tydidea, III. 50 and 68. 
' Livy, I. 38. Plantus, Amphitr., 100-105. 


the victors. We shall relate, farther on, what the 
result of this was under the dominion of Rome. 

When a war did not end by the extermination or 
subjection of one of the two parties, a treaty of peace 
might terminate it. But for this a convention was not 
sufficient ; a religious act was necessary. Every treaty 
was marked by the immolation of a victim. To sign a 
treaty is a modern expression ; the Latins said, strike a 
kid, icere hcedus, or foedus ; the name of the victim 
most generally employed for this purpose has remained 
in the common language to designate the entire act.' 
The Greeks expressed themselves in a similar manner ; 
they said, oifer a libation — anii'Seodm. The ceremony 
of. the treaty was always accomplished by priests, 
who conformed to the ritual.* In Italy they were 
called feciales, and spendophoroi, or libation-carriers, 
in Greece. 

These religious ceremonies alone gave a sacred and 
inviolable character to international conventions. The 
history of the Caudine Forks is well known. An entire 
army, through its consuls, questors, tribunes, and cen- 
turions had made a convention with the Samnites ; but 
no victims had been offered. The senate, therefore, 
believed itself justified in declaring that the treaty was 
not valid. In annulling it, no pontiff or patrician be- 
lieved that he was committing an act of bad faith. 

It was the universal opinion among the ancients that 
a man owed no obligations except to his own gods. 
We may recall the saying of a certain Greek, whose 
city adored the hero Alabandos ; he was speaking to an 
inhabitant of another city, that worshipped Hercules. 

' Festus, FcBdum, and Faedus. 

' In Greece they wore a crown. Xenophon, Bell., IV. 7, 3. 

278 THE CETT. BOOK m. 

"Alabandos," said he, "is a god, and Hercules is not 
one." ' With such ideas it was important, in a treaty 
of peace, that each city called its own gods to 
bear witness to its oaths. "We made a treaty, and 
poured out the libations," said the Plataeans to the 
Spartans; "we called to witness, you the gods of 
your fathers, we the gods who occupy our country." » 
Both parties tried, indeed, if it was possible, to invoke 
divinities that were common to both, cities. They 
swore by those gods that were visible everywhere — the 
sun, which shines upon all, and the nourishing earth. 
But the gods of each city, and its protecting heroes, 
touched men much more, and it was aecessary to call 
them to witness, if men vi^ished to^ have oaths really 
confirmed by religion. As the gods mingled in the 
battles during the war, they had to be included in the 
treaty. It was stipulated, therefore, that there should 
be an alliance between the gods as between the men of 
the two cities- To indicate this alliance of the gods, 
it sometimes happened, that the two peoples agreed! 
mutually to take part ia each other's sacred festivals.' 
Sometimes they opened their temples to each other, 
and made an exchange of religious rites. Rome once 
stipulated that the city god of Lanuvium should thence- 
forth protect the Romans, who should have the right 
to invoke him, and, to enter his temple.* Aftei'wavds 
each of the contracting parties engaged to worship the 
divinities; of the other. Thus the Eleans, having con- 
cluded a treaty with the ^tolians, thenceforth offered 
an annual sacrifice to the heroes of their allies.^ 

It. often happenedj after an alli'ance,, that the divini- 

' Cicero, De Nat. Dear., III. 19. = Thucydides, II. 

" Thucydides, V. 23. Plutarch, Thesews, 25, 33. 

• Livy, VIII. Ul ' Pausanias, V. 15. 


ties of two cities were represented by statues or medals 
holding one another by the hand. Thus it is that there 
are medals on which are seen united the Apollo of 
Miletus and the Genius of Smyrna, the Pallas of the 
Sideans and the Ai-temis of Perga, the Apollo of Hie- 
rapolis and the Artemis of Ef)hesus. Virgil, speaking of 
ail alliance between Thrace and the Trojans, represents 
the Penates of the two nations united and associated. 

These strange customs corresponded perfectly with 
the idea which the ancients had of the gods. As every 
city had its own, it seemjedi natural that these gods 
should figure in' battles and treaties. War or peace 
between two cities was war or peace between two 

International law- among the ancients was long 
founded upon this principle. When the gods were en- 
emies, there was war without mercy and without law; 
as soon as they were friends, the men were united, and 
entertained ideas of reciprocal duties. If they could 
imagine that the protecting divinities of two cities had 
some motive for becoming allies, this was reason enough 
why the two cities should become so.. The first city 
with which Rome contracted ties of fi-iendship was 
Caere, in Etruria, and Livy givesi the- reason for this : 
in the disaster of the Gallic invasion, the Roman gods 
had found an asylum in Caere; they had inhabited that 
city, and had been adored there ; a sacred bond of 
friendship was thus established between the Roman 
gods and, the Etruscan city.' Thenceforth religion 
wouldt not permit the two cities to be enemies ; they 
were allied forever.' 

' Livy, V. 50. Aulas Gellms, XVL 13. 
' It does not enter into our plant to apeak of tile numeroua 
confederations ox amphictyotties in anoienti Qreece and Italy. 

280 THE CITY. BOOK in. 


The Roman. The Atheniaji. 

This same religion which had founded society, and 
which had governed it for a long time, also gave the 
human mind its direction, and man his character. By- 
its dogmas and its practices it gave to the Greek and 
the Roman a certain manner of thinking and acting, 
and certain habits of which they were a long time in 
divesting themselves. It showed men gods every- 

We will only remark here that they were as much religious as 
political associations. There was not one of them that had not 
a common worshii) and a sanctuary. That of the Boeotians wor- 
shipped Athene Itonia, that of the Achaeans Demeter Panachaea, 
the god of the lonians in Asia Minor was Poseidon Helliconius, 
as that of the Dorian Pentapolis was Apollo Triopicus. The 
confederation of the Cyclades offered a common sacrifice in the 
isle of Delos, the cities of Argolis at Calauria. The Amphic- 
tyony of Thermopylae was an association of the same nature. All 
their meetings took place in temples, and were principally for 
offering sacrifices. Each of the confederate cities sent citizens 
clothed for the time with a sacerdotal character, and called 
ikeori, to take part in these meetings. A victim was slain in 
honor (jf the god of the association, and the flesh, cooked upon 
the altar, was shared among the representatives of the cities. 
Tlie common meal, with the songs, prayers, and sacred plays 
that accompanied them, formed the hond uf the confederation. 
Xlie same usage existed in Italy. Tlie cities of Latium had the 
feriffi Latinae, in which they shared the flesh of a victim. It 
was the same with the Etruscan cities. Besides, in all these 
amphictyonies, the political bond was always vreaker than the 
religious one. The confederate cities preserved perfect inde- 
pendence. They might even make war against each other, 
provided they observed a truce during the federal festival. 


where, little gods, gods easily irritated and malevolent. 
It crushed man with the fear of always having gods 
against him, and left him no liberty in his acts. 

We must inquire what place religion occupied in 
the life of a Roman. His house was for him what "^ 
temple is for us. He finds there his worship and his 
gods. His fire is a god ; the walls, the doors, the thresh- 
old are gods ; ' the boundary marks which sun-ound 
his field are also gods. The tomb is an altar, and his 
ancestors are divine beings. 

Each one of his daily actions is a rite; his whole 
day belongs to his religion. Morning and evening he 
invokes his fire, his Penates, and his ancestors ; in leav- 
ing and entering his house he addresses a prayer to 
them. Every meal is a religious act, which he shares 
with his domestic divinities. Birth, initiation, the 
taking of the toga, marriage, and the anniversaries of 
all these events, are the solemn acts of his worship. 

He leaves his house, and can hardly take a step with- 
out meeting some sacred object — either a chapel, or a 
place formerly struck by lightning, or a tomb ; some- 
times he must step back and pronounce a pr.iyer ; some- 
times he must turn his eyes and cover his face, to 
avoid the sight of some ill-boding object.- 

Every day he sacrifices in his house, every month 
in his cury, several months a year with his gens or his 
tribe. Above all these gods, he must offer worship to 
those of the city. There are in Rome more gods than 

He oflFers sacrifices to thank the gods ; he ofiers them, 
and by far the greater number, to appease their wrath. 

' St. Aug-ustine, City of God, VI. 7. TertuUian, Ad. Nat., 
[I. 15. 


One day he figures in a procession, dancing after a 
certain ancient rhythm, to the sound of the sacred flute. 
Another day he conducta chariots, in which lie statues 
of the divinities. Another time it. is a, lectisternium : 
a table is set in a street, and loaded with provisions 
upon beds lie statues of the gode^.and every Roman 
passes bowing, with a crown upon his head, and a 
branch of laurel in his hand.' 

There is a festival for seed-time, one for the harvest, 
and one for the pruning of tlie vines> Before corn has 
reached the ear,, the Roman, has offered more than ten 
sacrifices,, and invoked some: ten divinities for the suc- 
cess of his harvest. He haSj above all, a multitude of 
festivals for the dead,, because he isafraLd of theaai. 

He never leaves his^own house without, looking to 
see if any bird of bad augury appeals. There are 
words which, he darea not pronounce for his life. If 
he experiences some desire, he inscribes his wish' upon 
a, tablet which ho places at the feet of the statue of a 

At every moment he, consults the gods,, and wishes 
to know their will., Ho finds, all his resolutions ia tihe 
enitraila of victims,, in the flight of birds, in the warning 
of the lightning, The announcement of a shower of. 
blood, or of an ox that has spoken^, troubles him and 
makes him tremble. He will be tranquil only after an 
expiatory ceremony shall restore hint to peace with 
the gods> 

He steps out of his house always with the right foot 
first. He has his hair cut only during, the full moon. 
He carries amulets upon his . person. He covers the 
walls of his house with magic inscriptions against fire, 

• Livy, XXXIV. 65 ; XL. 37. 

CHAP. XVI. THE EOMAlsr. 283 

He knows of formulas for avoiding sickness, and of 
others for curing it; but he must repeat them twenty- 
seven times, and spit in a certain, fashion at each 

He does not delihej-ate in the senate if the victims 
have not given favorable signs. He leaves the as- 
sembly of the people if he hears the, cry of a mouse. 
He renounces the best: laid plans if he perceives a bad 
presage,j or if an ill-omened word has struck his ear. 
He is brave in battle, but on condition that the aus- 
pices assure him the victory. 

This, Soman whom we present here is not the man 
of the people, the feeble-minded man whom misery 
and ignorance have made superstitious. We are speak- 
ing of the patricians the noble, powerful, and rich man. 
This patrician is,. by turns,; warrior,, magistrate, consul, 
farmer, merchant;; but everywhere and always he is 
&. priest, and his thoughts are fixed, upon, the gods. 
Patriotism, love of glory, and love of gold, whatever 
power these may have over his soul, the fear of the 
gods still governs everything. Horace has written the 
most stii'king truth concerning the Romans :: — 

"Dlste minorem quod geria, imperae." 

Men have sometimes called this a political' religion ; 
but can we suppose that a senate of three hundred mem- 
bers, a body of three thousand patricians, should have 
agreed' so unanimously to deceive an ignorant people ? 
and that, for ages, during so many rivalries, struggles, 
and personal hatreds, not a single voice was raised, to 
say, This is a falsehood ? If a patrician had betrayed 

' Cato, Be Re Rust., 160: Varro, Db Re ^ust., 1. 2; I. 37. 
BliTXy, N. H., VIII. &2; XVII. 28; XXVII. 12'; XXVIH. 2. 
Jmrcnal, X. 55. Auius.Gcellius, ItV. 5i. 


the secrets of his sect, — if, addressing himself to the 
plebeians, who impatiently supported the yoke of this 
religion, he had disembarrassed and freed them from 
these auspices and priesthoods, — this man would imme- 
diately have obtained so much' credit that he might 
have become the master of the state. Does any one 
suppose that if these patricians had not believed in the 
religion which they practised, such a temptation would 
not have been strong enough to determine at least one 
among them to reveal the secret ? We greatly deceive 
ourselves on the nature of man if we suppose a reli- 
gion can be established by convention and supported 
by irapos'iure. Let any one count in Livy Iiow many 
times this religion embarrassed the patricians them> 
selves, how many times it stood in the way of the sen- 
ate and impeded its action, and then decide if this 
religion was invented for the convenience of statesmen. 
It was very late — not till the time of the Scipios — 
that they began to believe that religion was useful to 
the government ; but then religion was already dead 
in their minds. 

Let us take a Roman of the first days : we will choose 
one of the greatest commanders, Camillus, who was five 
times dictator, and who was victorious in more than 
ten battles. To be just, we must consider him quite 
as much a priest as a warrior. He belonged to the 
Furian gens ; his surname is a word which designates 
a priestly function. When a child he was required to 
w-ear the prcetexta, which indicated his caste, and the 
bulla, which kept bad fortune from him. He grew up, 
taking a daily part in the ceremonies of the worship ; 
he passed his youth in studying religious rites. A war 
oroke out, and the priest became a soldier ; he was 
seen, when wounded in the thigh, in a cavalry combat, 


to draw the iron from the wound and continue to fight. 
After several campaigns he was raised to magistracies', 
as consular tribune he offered the public sacrifices, acted 
as judge, and commanded the army. A day comes 
when men think of him for the dictatorship. On that 
day, the magistrate in office, after having watched 
during a clear night, consults the gods ; his thoughts 
are fixed upon Camillus, whose name he pronounces in 
a low voice, and his eyes are fixed upon the heavens, 
■where he seeks the presages. The gods send only good 
ones, for Camillus is agreeable to them, and he is named 

Now, as chief of the array, he leaves the city, not 
without having consulted the auspices and slain many 
victims. He has under his orders many officers and 
almost as many priests, a pontiff, augtirs, arnspices-, 
keepers of the sacred chickens, assistants at sacrifices, 
and a bearer of the sacred fire. His work is to finish 
the war against Veii, which for nine yeai-s has been 
besieged without success. Veii is an Etruscan city — 
that is to say, almost a sacred city ; it is againa.; piety, 
more than courage, that the Romans have to contend. 
If the Romans have been unsuccessful for nine years, 
it is because the Etruscans have a better knowledge of 
the rites that are agreeable to the gods, and the magic 
formulas that gain their favor. Rome, on her side, has 
opened the Sibylline books, and has sought the will of 
the gods there. It appears that the Latin festival 
has been vitiated by some neglect of form, and the 
sacrifice is renewed. Still the Etruscans retain their 
superiority ; only one resource ia left — to seize an 
Etruscan priest and learn the secret of the gods from 
him. A Veientine priest is taken and brought to 
the senate. " To insure the success of Rome," he says, 


"the level of the Alban Lake must be lowered, taking 
good care that the water does not ran into the sea^" 
The Romans obey. They dig many canals and ditches, 
and the water of the lake is lost in the plain. 

At this moment Camillus is elected dictator. He 
repairs to the army at Yeii. He is sure of success; 
for all the oracles have been revealed, all the commands 
of the gods have been fulfilled. Moreover, before leav- 
ing Rome, he has pi'omised the pT'otecting gods festi- 
vals and sacrifices. In order to insure success he does 
not neglect human means ; he increases the army, im^ 
proves its discipline, and constructs a subterranean 
gallery, to penetrate into the citadel. The day.for the 
attack arrives; Camillus leaves his tent; he takes the 
auspices and sacrifices victims. The pontiiffs ^nd au- 
gurs surround him ; clothed in the jpahi6kimentum, he 
invokes the gods : " Under thy conduct, O Apollo, and 
by thy will which inspires me, I march to take and de- 
stroy the city of Veii : to thee I promise and devote a 
tenth part of the spoils." 3ut it is not enongh to have 
gods on his side ; the enemy also has a powerful divin- 
ity that protects him. Camillus invokes this divinity 
in these woi"ds : "Queen Juno, who at present inhabit- 
est Veii, I pray thee come with us conquerors ; follow 
us into our city ; let our city become thine." Then, 
the sacrifices being finished, the prayers pronounced, 
the formulas recited, when the Romans are sure that 
the gods are for them, and no god any longer defends 
the enemy, the assault is made, and the city isttaken. 

Such was Camillus. A Roman general was a man who 
understood admirably how to .fight, who knew, above 
all, how to command obedience, but who believed firm- 
ly in the augurs, who performed religious acts every 
day, and who was convinced that what was of most 


importance was not courage, or even discipline, but the 
enunciation of certain formulas exactly pronounced, 
according to the lites. .These formulas, addressed to 
the gods, "determined them and constrained them 
almost always to igive him the victory. iFor such a 
general the supreme recompense was for the senate to 
permit him to ioffer the triumphal sacrifice. Then he 
ascends the sacred chariot drawn by four white horses; 
he wears the sacred robe with which the gods are 
clothed on ifestal ^ays ; his head is crowned, his right 
hand holds a lam-el branch, his left the ivory scep- 
tre; these are exactly the attributes and the costume 
of Jupiter's statue.' With this almost divine majesty 
he shows himself to the citizens, and goes to render 
(homage to the true majesty of the greatest of the iRo- 
man gods. He climbs the'slope of the Capitol, arrives 
before the temple of Jupiter, and. immolates victims. 

The fear of the gods was not a sentiment peculiar 
to the Roman; it also reigned in the heart of the 
Greek. These peoples, originally established by reli- 
gion, and selevated by it, long preserved the marks of 
their first education. We know the sonuples of the 
Spartan, who never commenced an expedition before 
the full moon, who was continually sacrificing victims 
to know whether he ought to fight, and who renounced 
the best planned and most necessary enterprises be- 
cause a bad presage frightened him. The Athenian 
was not less scrupulous. An Athenian army never set 
out on a campaign before the seventh diayof the month, 
and when a fleet set isail on an expedition, great care 
was taken to regild the statae i)f Pallas. 

' Livy, X. 7; XXX. 16. Dionysius, V. 8. Appian, Punic 
Wars, 59. Juvenal, X. 43. Pliny, XXXIII. 7. 


Xenophon declares that the Athenians had moie 
religious festivals than any other Greek people.' " How 
many victims offered to the gods!" says Aristophanes,' 
" how many temples ! how many statues ! how many 
sacred processions! At every moment of the year we 
see religions feasts and crowned victims." The city 
of Athens and its territory are covered with temples 
and chapels. Some are for the city worship, others for 
the tribes and demes, and still others for family wor- 
ship. Every house is itself a temple, and in every field 
there is a sacred tomb. 

The Athenian whom we picture to ourselves as so 
inconstant, so capricious, such a free-thinker, has, on 
the contrary, a singular respect for ancient traditions 
and ancient rites. His principal religion — that which 
secures bis most fervent devotion — is the worship of 
ancestors and heroes. He worships the dead and fears 
them. One of his laws obliges him to offer them yearly 
the first fruits of his harvest ; another forbids him to 
pronounce a single word that can call down their an- 
ger. Whatever relates to antiquity is sacred to the 
Athenian. He has old collections, in which are record- 
ed his rites, from which he never departs. If a priest 
introduces the slightest innovation into the worship, 
he is punished with death. The strangest i-ites are 
observed from age to age. One day in the year the 
Athenians offer a sacrifice in honor of Ariadne; and 
because it was said that the beloved of Theseus died 
in childbirth, they ai-e compelled to imitate the cries 
and movements of a woman in travail. They cele- 
brate another festival, called Osohophoria, which is a 

• Xenophon, Gov. of the Athenians, III. 2. 
' Aristophanes, Clouds. 


sort of pantoinihi&, representing the retain of Tlieseiw 
to Attica. They crown the wand of a herald because 
Theseus's herald crowned his staff. They utter a cer- 
tain cry which they suppose the hei;ald uttered, and a 
procession is formed, and each wears the costume that 
was in fashion in Theseus's time. On another day the 
Athenians' did not fail, to boil vegetables in a pot of a 
certain kind. This was a rite the origin, of which 
was lost in dim antiquity^ and of which no one knew 
the significance, but which, was piously renewed, each 

The Athenian, like the Roman, had unlucky dp.ys : 
on these days no marriage took place, no enterprise was 
begun, no assembly was held, and, justice was not admiii- 
istei-ed. The eighteeutk and nineteenth day of every 
month was employed in purifications^ The day of the 
Plynteria — a day unlucky above all — they veiled the 
statue of the great Athene Polias. On the coQti'ai-y, on 
the day of the Panathenaea, the veil of the goddess, was 
carried in grand procession, and all the citizens, with- 
out distinction of age or rank, made up the cortege. 
The Athenian offered sacrifices for the harvests, for 
the return of rain, and for the return of fair weather; 
he ofiered' them to cure sickness, and to d4ve away 
fhmine or pestilence.* 

Athens has its collection of ancient oracle!S,,as Rome 
has her Sibylline books, and supports in the Pryta- 
neum men who foretell the future. In h^r streets we 
meet at every step soothsayers, priests, and interpretei-s 
of dreams^ The Athenian believes in portents ; sneez- 

' Plutarch, 'Biesem, 20, 22, 23, 

' Plato, Laws, p. 800. Fhilochprus, FragifL. Eurdpidc^, 



ing, or a ringing in the ears, arrests him in an enter- 
prise. He never goes on shipboard without taking 
the auspices. Before marrying he does not fail to 
consult the flight of birds. The assembly of the people 
disperses as soon as any one declares that there has 
appeared in the heavens an ill-boding sign. If a sacri- 
fice has been disturbed by the announcement of bad 
news, it must be recommenced.' 

The Athenian hardly commences s sentence without 
first invoking good fortune. He puts the same words 
at the head of all his decrees. On the speaker's stand 
the orator prefers to commence with an invocation to 
the gods and heroes who inhabit the country. The 
])eople are led by oracles. The orators, to give their 
advice more force, repeat, at every moment, "The 
goddess ordains thus." ' 

Nicias belongs to a great and rich' family. While 
still young he conducts to the sanctuary of Delos a 
theoria — that is to say, victims, and a chorus to sing 
the praises of the god during the sacrifice. Returning 
to Athens, he oflfei's a part of his fortune in homage 
to the gods, dedicating a statue to Athene and a chapel 
to Dionysius. By turns he is hestiator, and pays the 
expense of the sacred repast of his tribe ; and chore- 
gus, when he supports a chorus for the religious festi- 
vals. No day passes that he does not offer a sacrifice 
to some god. He has a soothsayer attached to his 
house, who never leaves it, and whom he consults on 
public affairs, as well as on his own. Having been ap- 
pointed a general, he commands an expedition against 

' Aristophanes, Peace, 1084; Birds, 596, 718. Schol ad 
Aves, 721. Thueyd., II. 8. 
' Lycurgus, I. 1. Aristophanes, Knights, 903, 999, 1171, 1179. 


Corinth; while he is returning victorious to Athens, he 
perceives that two of his dead soldiers have been left, 
"without burial, upon the enemy's territory. He is 
seized with a religious scruple ; he stops his fleet, and 
sends a herald to demand of the Corinthians permission 
to bury the two bodies. Some time after, the Athenian 
people are deliberating upon the Sicilian expedition. 
Nicias ascends the speaker's stand, and declares that his 
priests and soothsayers announce prestiges which are 
opposed to the expedition. Alcibiades, it is true, has 
other diviners who interpret the oracles in a contrary 
sense. The people are undecided. Men come in who 
have just arrived from Egypt; they have consulted the 
god Ammon, who is beginning to be quite the fashion, 
and they report this oracle from him. The Athenians 
will capture all the Syracusans. The people immedi- 
ately decide for war.' 

Nicias, much against his will, commands the expedi- 
tion. Before setting out, he offers a sacrifice, according 
to custom. He takes with him, like other genefals; a 
troop of diviners, sacrificers, anispices, and heralds. 
The fleet carries its sacred fire; every vessel has an 
emblem representing some god. 

But Nicias has little hope. Is not misfortune an- 
nounced by prodigies enough ? Crows have injured a 
statue of Pallas; a man has mutilated himself upon an 
altar; and the departure takes place during the unlucky 
days of the Plynteria. Nicias knows only too well that 
this war will be fatal to him and his country. During 
the whole course of his campaign he always appears 
timorous and circumspect : he hardly dares to give the 
signal for a battle, he whom they know to be so brave 

' Plutarch, Nicias. Thucydides, VI. 

292 THE CITY. BOOK. m. 

a soldier and so skilful a general. The Athenians 
cannot take Syracuse, and, after cruel losses, they are 
forced to decide upon returning home. Nicias pre- 
pares his fleet for the return ; the sea is still free. But 
an eclipse of the moon happens. He consults his divin- 
er; the diviner answers that the presage is unfavor- 
able, and that they must wait three times nine days. 
Nicias obeys ; he passes all this time inactive^ offering 
many sacrifices to appease the wrath of the gods. 
During this delay the enemy close up the port and 
destroy his fleet. Ifothing is left for him but to retreat 
by land, and this is impossible. Neither he nor any 
of his soldiers escapes the Syracusans. 

What did the Athenians say at the news of this 
disaster ? They knew the personal courage of Mcias, 
and his admirable constancy. Nor did they dream, of 
blaming him for having followed the dictates of religion. 
Th,ey found but one thing to reproach him for ; this was 
for having taken with him an ignorant diviner. For 
this man had been mistaken as to the meaning of the 
eclipse of the moon ; he ought to have known that, for 
an army wishing to retreat, a moon that conceals its 
light is a favorable presage.' 

' Plutarch, Nicim, 23., 



The Omnipotence of the State- The Ancients knew nothing 
of Individual liberty. 

The city had been founded upon a religion, and 
constituted like a church. Hence its strength ; hence, 
nlso, its^omnipotence and the absolute empire which it 
exercised oyer its members. In a society established 
on such principles, individual liberty couM not exist. 
The citizen was subor dinat e in everything, and without 
aiiyxeserye, to the city ; he^belonged to it body and soul. 
The religion which had produced the state, and th« 
state which supported the religion, sustained each other, 
and made but one ; these two powers, associated and 
confounded, formed a power almost superhuman, to 
which the soul and the body were equally enslaved. 

There was nothing independent in man ; his body 
belonged to the state, and was devoted to its defence. 
At Rome military service»was due till a man was fifty 
years old, at Athens till he was sixty, at Sparta always. 
His fortune was always at the disposal of the state. If 
the city had need of money, it could order the women 
to deliver up their jewels, the creditors to give up their 
claims, and the owners of olive trees to tarn over gra- 
tuitously the oil which they had made.' 

Private life did not escape this omnipotence of the 
state, The Athenian law, in the name of religion, for- 
bade men to remain single.' Sparta punished not only 
those who remained single, but those who married 

* Aristotle, Econom., II. 

' Pollux, VIII. 40. Plutarch, Lysarul,er, 30. 

294 THE CITY. BOOK ni. 

late. At Athena the state could prescribe labor, and 
at Sparta idleness. _ It exercised its tyranny even in 
the smallest things ; at Locii the laws forbade men to 
drink pure wine ; at Rome, Miletus, and Marseilles wine 
■was forbidden to women.' It was a common thing for 
the kind of dress to be invariably fixed by each city; 
the legislation of Sparta regulated the head-di-ess of 
women, and that of Athens forbade them to take with 
them on a journey more than three dresses.' At 
Rhodes and Byzantium the law forbade men to shave 
the beard.' 

The state was under no obligation to suffer any of 
its citizens to be deformed. It therefore commanded 
a father to whom such a son was born, to have him put 
to death. This law is found in the ancient codes of 
Sparta and of Rome. We do not know that it existed 
at Athens ; we know only that Aristotle and Plato in- 
corporated it into their ideal codes. 

There is, in the history of Sparta, one trait which 
Plutarch and Rousseau greatly admired. Sparta had 
just suffered a defeat at Leuctra, and many of its citi- 
zens had perished. On the receipt of this news, the 
relatives of the dead had to show themselves in public 
with gay countenances. The mother who learned that 
her son had escaped, and that she should see him again, 
appeared afflicted and wept. Another, who knew that 

' Athenseus, X. 33. .ffilian, V. B., II. 37. 

» Fragm. Hist. Grac. Didot, t. II. p. 129, 211. Plutarch, 
Solon, 21. 

' Athcnaeus, XIII. Plutarch, Cleomenes, 9. 

" The Romans thought that no marriage, or rearing of chil- 
dren, nay, no feast or drinking bout, ought to be permitted 
according to every one's appetite or fancy, without being ex- 
amined and inquired into." Plutarch, Cato the Elder, 23. 


ehe should never again see her son, appeared joyous, 
and went round to the temple to thank the gods. 
What, then, was the power of the state that could thus 
order the reversal of the natural sentiments, and be 
obeyed ? 

The state allowed no man to be indifferent to its 
interests ; the philosopher or the studious man liad no 
right to live apart. He was obliged to vote in the 
assembly, and be magistrate in his turn. At a time 
when discords were fi-equent, the Athenian law per- 
mitted no one to 'remain neutral; he must take sides 
with one or the other party. Against one who at- 
tempted to remain indifferent, and not side with either 
faction, and to appear calm, the law pronounced the 
punishment of exile with confiscation of property. 

Education was far from being free among the Greeks. 
On the contrary, there was nothing over which the 
state had greater control. At Sparta the father could 
have nothing to do with the education of his son. The 
law appears to have been less rigorous at Athens ; still 
the state managed to have education in the hands of 
masters of its own choosing. Aristophanes, in au elo- 
quent passage, shows the Athenian children on their 
way to school ; in order, distributed according to their 
district, they march in serried ranks, through rain, 
snow, or scorching heat. These children seem already 
to understand that they are performing a public duty.' 
The state wished alone to control education, and Plato 
gives the motive for this : ' " Parents ought not to be 
free to send or not to send their children to tiie masters 
whom the city has chosen ; for the children belong less 
lo their parents than to the city." 

Aristophanes, Clouds, 960-965. » Plato, Laws, VIX. 


The state considered the mind and body of every 
citizen as belonging to it; and wished, therefore, to 
fashion this body and mind in a manner that would 
enable it to draw the greatest advantage from them. 
Children were taught gymnastics, because the body of 
a man was an arm for the city, and it was best that tWs 
arm should be as strong and as skilful as possible. 
They were also taught religious songs and hymns, and 
the sacred dances, because this knowledge was neces- 
sary to the correct performance of the sacrifices and 
festivals of the city.' 

It was admitted that the state had a right to prevent 
free instruction by the side of its own. One day Athens 
made a law forbidding the instruction of young people 
without authority from the magistrates, and another, 
which specially forbade the teaching of philosophy." 

A man had no chance to choose his belief. He must 
believe and submit to the religion of the city. He 
could hate and despise the gods of the neighboring 
3ity. As to the divinities of a general and universal 
character, like Jupiter, or Cybele, or Juno, he was fi'ee 
to believe or not to believe in them ; but it would not 
do to entertain doubts about Athene Polias, or Erech- 
theuB, or Cecrops. That would have been grave im- 
piety, which would have endangered religion and the 
state :.t the same time, and which the state would have 
severe!}' punished. Socrates was put to death for this 
crime. Liberty of thought in regard to the state re- 
ligion was absolutely unknown among the ancients.- 

' Aristophanes, Clouds, 96B-968. 

° Xenophon, Memor., I. 2. Diogenes Laertius, Theophr. 
These two laws did not continue a long time ; bat they do not 
the less prove the omnipotence that was conceded to the state in 
matters of instruction. 


Men had to conform to all the rules of worship, figure 
■in all the processions, and take part in the sacred 
repasts. Athenian legislation punished those by a 
fine who failed religiously to celebrate a national 

The ancients, therefore, knew neither liberty in pri- 
vate life, liberty in education, nor religious liberty. 
The human person counted for very little against that 
holy and almost divine authority which was called 
countiy or the state. The state had not only, as we 
■have in our modern societies, a right to administer jus- 
tice to the citizens ; it could strike when one was not 
guilty, and simply for its own interest. Aristides as- 
suredly had committed no crime, and was not even 
suspected ; bat the city had the right to drive him from 
its territory, for the simple reason that he had acquired 
by his virtues too much influence, and might become 
dangerous, if he desired to be. This was called ostra- 
cism / this institution was not peculiar to Athens ; it 
was found at Argos, at Megara, at Syracuse, and we 
may believe that it existed in all the Greek cities." 

Now, ostracism was not a chastisement; it was a 
precaution which the city took against a citizen whom 
it suspected of having the power to injure it at any 
time. ' At Athens a man could be put on trial and con- 
demned for incivism — that is to say, for the want of 
affection towards the state. A man's life was guaran- 
teed by nothing so soon as the interest of the state was 
at stake. Rome made a law by which it was permitted 
to kill any man who might have the intention of be- 

• Pollux, VIII. 46. Ulpian, Schol. in Demosthenes ; in Mei- 
' Aristotle, Pol., VIII. 2, 5. Scholiast on Aristoph., Knights, 


298. THE CITY. BOOK m. 

coming king.' The dangerous maxim that the safety 
of the state is the supreme law, was the work of an- 
tiquity." It was then thought that law, justice, morals, 
everything should give way before the interests of the 

It is a singular error, therefore, among all human 
errors, to believe that in the ancient cities men enjoyed_ 
liberty. JThey had not even the idea of j^tj They did 
not believe that there could exist any right as against 
the city and its gods. We shall see, farther on, that 
the governiuent changed form several times, while the 
nature of the state remained nearly the same, and its 
omnipotence was little diminished. The government 
was called by turns monarchy, aristocracy, democracy ; 
but none of these revolutions gave man true liberty, 
individual liberty. To have political rights, to vote, 
to name magistrates, to have the privilege of being 
archon, — this was called libe'rty ; but man was not the 
less enslaved to the state. The ancients, especially the 
Greeks, always exaggerated the importance, and above 
all, the rights of society ; this was largely due, doubt- 
less, to the sacred and religious character with which 
society was clothed in the beginning. 

' Plutarch, Puhlicola, 12. ' Cicero, De Legit., III. 3. 





Patricians and Clients. 

Ceetainlt we could imagine nothing more solidly 
constituted than this family of the ancient ages, which 
contained within itself its gods, its worship, its priest, 
and its magistrate. There could be nothing stronger 
than this city, which also had in itself its religion, its 
protecting gods, and its independent priesthood, which 
governed the soul as well as the body of man, and which, 
infinitely more powerful than the states of our day, 
united in itself the double authority that we now see 
shared between the state and the church. If any so- 
ciety was ever established to last, it was certainly that. 
Still, like everything human, it had its revolutions. 
We cannot state at what period these revolutions com- 
menced. We can understand that, in reality, this epoch 
was not the same for the different cities of Greece and 
Italy. All that is certain is, that from the seventh cen- 
tury before our era, this social organization was almost 
everywhere discussed and attacked. From that time 
it was supported only with difficulty, and by a more or 
less skilful combination of resistance and concessions. 


It struggled thus for several centuries, in the midst of 
perpetual contests, and finally disappeared. 

The causes of its destruction may be reduced to two. 
One was the change which took place in the course of 
time in ideas, resulting from the natural development 
of the human rnind, and which, in effacing ancient 
beliefs, at the same time caused the social edifice to 
crumble, which these beliefs had built, and could alone 
sustain. The other was a class of men who found 
themselves placed outside this city organization, and 
who suffered from it. These men had an interest in 
destroying it, and made war upon it continually. 

When, therefore, the beliefs, on which this social re- 
gime was founded, became weakened, and the interests 
of the majority of men were at war with it, the sys- 
tem fell. No city escaped this law of tra»sformation ; 
Sparta no more than Athens, Rome no more than 
Greece. We have seen that the men of Greece and 
those of Italy had originally the same beliefs, and that 
the same series of institutions was developed among 
both ; and we shall now see that all these cities passed 
through similar revolutions. 

We must try to understand why and how men became 
separated from this ancient organization, not to fall, but, 
on the contrary, to advance towards a social organiza- 
tion larger and better. For under the semblance of 
disorder, and sometimes of decay, each of their changes 
brought them nearer an object which they did not com- 

Thus far we have not spoken of the lower classes, 
because we have had no occasion to speak of them. 
For we have been attempting to describe the primitive 
organization of the city ; and the lower classes counted 
absolutely for nothing in that organism. The city was 


constituted as if these classes had not existed. We 
were able therefore to defer the study of these till we 
Ijad arrived at the period of the revolutions. 

The ancient city, like all human society, had ranks, 
distinctions, and inequalities. We know the distinc- 
tion originally made at Athens between tjhe Eupatnids 
and the Thetes ;. at Sparta we find the class of Equals 
and that of the Inferiors ; and in Eubpea, that of the 
Knights and that of the People. The history of Rome 
is full, of the struggles between the P-Titricians and Ple- 
beians, struggles that we find in all the Sabine, Latin, 
and Etruscan cities. We can even remark that the 
higher we ascend in the history of Greece and, Italy^ 
the more profound and the more strongly marked the 
distinction appears — a positive proof that the in- 
equality did not grow up with time, but that it existed 
from the beginning, and that it was contemporary with 
the birth of cities* 

It is worth while to inquire upon what principles 
this division of classes rested. We can thus the more 
easily see by virtue of what ideas or what needs the 
struggles commenced, what the inferior classes claimed, 
and on what principles the saperior classes defended 
their empire. 

We have seen above that t,he city grew out of the 
confoderalion of families and tribes. Now, before the 
day on which the city was foundecJ, the family already 
contained within itself this distinction of classes. In- 
deed, the family was never dismembered ; it was indivis- 
ible, like the primitive religion of the hearth. The oldest 
son alone, succeeding the father, took possession, of the 
priesthood, the property, and the authority, and his 
brothers were to him what they had been to tlieir fa- 
ther. From generation to generation, from first-born 


to first-born, there was never but one family chief. He 
presided at the sacrifice, repeated the prayer, pro- 
nounced judgment, and governed. To him alone oii- 
ginally belonged the title ot pater ; for this word, which 
signified power, and not paternity, could be applied 
only to the chief of the family. His sons, his brothers, 
his servants, all called him by this title. 

Here, then, in the inner constitution of the family is 
the first principle of inequality. The oldest is the priv- 
ileged one for the worship, for the succession, and for 
command. After several centuries, there were natu- 
rally formed, in each of these great families, younger 
branches, that were, according to religion and by cus- 
tom, inferior to the older branch, and who, living under 
its protection, submitted to its authority. 

This family, then, had servants, who did not leave it, 
who were hereditarily attached to it, and upon whom 
the pater, or patron, exercised the triple authority of 
master, magistrate, and priest. They were called by 
names that varied with the locality : the more common 
names were Clients and Thetes. 

Here was another inferior class. The client was infe- 
rior not only to the supreme chief of the family, but to 
the younger branches also. Between him and them 
there was this difierence, that a member of a younger 
branch, by ascending the series of his ancestors, always 
arrived at a pater, that is to say, a family chief, one of 
those divine ancestors, whom the family invoked in its 
prayers. As he was descended from & pater, they called 
him in Latin patricius. The son of a client, on the con- 
trary, however high he might ascend in his genealogy, 
never arrived at anything but a client or a slave. There 
was no pater among his ancestors. Hence came for him 
a state of inferiority from which there was no escape. 


The distinction between these two classes of men 
was manifest in what concerned material interests. 
The property of the family belonged entirely to the 
chief, who, however, shared the enjoyment of it with 
the younger branches, and even with the clients. But 
while the younger branch had at least an eventual right 
to this property, in case of the extinction of the elder 
branch, the client could never become a proprietor. 
The land that he cultivated he had only in trust; if he 
died, it returned to his patron ; Roman law of the later 
ages preserved a vestige of this ancient rule in what 
was called jvs applicationis. The client's money, even, 
did not belong to him ; the patron was the true owner 
of it, and could take it for his own needs. It was by 
virtue of this ancient rule that the Roman law required 
the client to endow the daughter of the patron, to pay 
the patron's fine, and to furnish his ransom, or con- 
tribute to the expenses of his magistracy. 

The distinction is still more manifest in religion. 
The descendant of the pater alone can perform the 
ceremonies of the family worship. The client takes a 
part in it; a sacrifice is offered for him; he does not 
offer it for himself. Between him and the domestic 
divinity thei'e is always a mediator. He cannot even 
replace the absent family. If this family becomes ex- 
tinct, the clients do not continue the worship ; they are 
dispersed. For the religion is not their patrimony ; 
it is not of their blood, it does not come from their 
own ancestors. It is a borrowed religion ; they have 
not the enjoyment or the ownership of it. 

Let us keep in mind that according to the ideas 
of ancient generations, the right to have a god and to 
pray was hereditary. The sacred tradition, the rites, 
the sacramental words, the powerful formulas which 


detertniued the gods to act,. — all this was transmitted 
only with the blood. It was therefore very natural 
that in each of these ancient families, the free person 
who was really descended fl'om the first ancestor,, wns 
alone in possession of the sacerdotal character. The 
Patricians or Eupatrids had the privilege of being 
priests, and of having a religion that belonged to them 

Thus, even before men left the family state, there 
existed a distinction of classes ; the old domestic re- 
ligion had established ranks. Afterwards, when the 
city was formed, nothing was changed in the inner con- 
stitution of the family. "We have already shown that 
originally the city was not an association of individuals, 
but a confederation of tribes, curies, and families, and 
that in this sort of alliance each of these bodies re- 
mained; what it had been before. The chiefs of these 
little groups united with each other, but each remakiedi 
master in, the little society of which he was already 
chief. This explains Why the Roman law so long left 
to the paier the absolute authority over his family, and. 
the control of and the right of judging his clients. 
The distinction of classes, born in the family, was con- 
tinued therefore in the city. 

The city in its first age was no more than an alliance 
of the heads of families. There are. numerous evi- 
dences of a time when they alone were citizens. This 
rule was kept up at Sparta, where the younger sous 
had no political rights. We may still see vestiges of 
it in an ancient law of Athens, which declared that to 
be a citizen one must have a domestic god.' Aristotle 
remarks that anciently, in many cities, it was the rule 
that the son was not a citizen during the life of his 

' Harpocration, Z&vi i^xeCos 


father, and that,, the father being dead, the oldest son 
alone enjoyed political rights.' The law then counted 
in the city neither the younger branches of the family, 
nor, for still stronger reason, the clients, ^-''^^tot^^ 
also adds that the real citizens were at that time very 

The assembly which deliberated on the general in- 
terests of the city was composed, in those ancient times, 
only of heads of families — patres. We raay be al- 
lowed to doubt Cicero when he tells us that Romulus 
called the senators fathers, to mark their paternal 
affection for the people. The members of the senate 
naturally bore this title because they were the chiefs 
of the gentes. At the same time that these men, 
united, represented the city, each one of them re- 
mained absolute master in his gens, which was for him 
a kind of little kingdoip.. We also see, from the com- 
mencement of Rome, another more numerous assembly, 
that of the curies ; but it differs very little, from that 
of the patres. These formed the principal element of 
this assembly ; only, every pater appeared .there sur- 
rounded by his family ; his relatives, bis clients, even, 
formed his cortege, and marked his power. Each family 
had, moreover, but one vote in the comitia.* The chief 
might, indeed, consult his relations, and even his clients, 
but he alone voted. Besides, the law forbade a client 
to have a different opinion from his patron. If the 
clients were connected with the city, it was through 
their patrician chiefs. They took part in public wor- 

' Aristotle, Pol., VIII. 6,2-3. 

' Aulus Gellius, XV. 27. We shall see that clientship under- 
went changes later. We speak here only of the first ages of 



ship, they appeared before the tribunal, they entered 
the assembly, but it was in the suite of their patrons. 

We must not picture to ourselves the city of these an- 
cient ages as an agglomeration of men living mingled 
together witliin the enclosure of the same walls. In 
the earliest times the city was hardly the place of hab- 
itation ; it was the sanctuary where the gods of the 
community were; it was the fortress which defended 
them, and which their presence sanctified; it was the 
centr» of the association, the residence of the king and 
the priests, the place where justice was administered ; 
but the people did not live there. For several genera- 
tions yet men continued to live outside the city, in 
isolated families, that divided the soil among them. 
Each of these families occupied its canton, where it had 
its domestic sanctuary, and where it formed, under the 
authority of its pater, an indivisible group. Then, on 
certain days, if the interests of the city or the obliga- 
tions of the common worship called, the chiefs of these 
families repaired to the city and assembled around the 
king, either to deliberate or to assist at a sacrifice. If 
it was a question of war, each of these chiefs arrived, 
followed by his family and his servants (sua manus) : 
they were grouped by phratries, or curies, and formed 
the army of the city, under t-Le oow^^r.J jf the king. 



The Plebeians. 

We must now point out another element of the 
population, which was belo^v the clients themselves, 
and which, originally low, insensibly acquired strength 
enough to break the ancient social organization. This 
class, which became more numerous at Rome than in 
any other city, was there called the plebs. We must 
understand the origin and character of this class to 
understand the part it played in the history of the 
city, and of the family, among the ancients. The ple- 
beians were not the clients ; the historians of antiq- 
uity do not confound these two classes. Livy, in one 
place, says, " The plebeians did not wish to take part 
in the election of the consuls; the consuls were there- 
fore elected by the patricians and their clients." And 
in another, " The plebeians complained that the patri- 
cians had too much influence in the comitia, on account 
of the votes of their clients." ' In Dionysius of Hali- 
carnassus we read, " The plebeians left Rome and re- 
tired to Mons Sacer; the patricians remained alone in 
the city with their clients." And farther along, " The 
plebeians, being dissatisfied, refused to enroll their 
names. The patricians, with their clients, took arms 
and carried on the war." ^ These plebeians, completely 
distinct from the clients, formed no part of what was 
called the Roman people, at least in the first centuries. 

' Liry, 11. 64; 11.56. 

' Dionysius, VI. 46 ; VII. 19 ; X. 27. 


In an old prayer, which was BtDl repeated in the time 
of the Punic wars, the gods were asked to be propitious 
" to the people and the plebs." ' The plebs were not, 
therefore, comprised in the people, at any rate not 
originally. The people comprised the patricians and 
the clients : the plebs were excluded. 

What constituted the peculiar character of' the plebs 
was, that they were foreign to the religious organiza- 
tion of the city, and even to that of the family. By 
this we recognize the plebeian, and distinguish hira 
from the client. The client shared at least in the wor- 
ship of his patron, and made a part of the family and 
of the gens. The plebeian, at first, had no worship, 
and knew nothing of the sacred 'family. 

What we have already seen of the social and religious 
state of ancient times explains to us how this class 
took its rise. Religion was ' not propagated ; born 
in a family, it remained, as if were, shut in there ; 
each family was forced to create its' creed, its gods, and 
its worship. But there must have been, in those times, 
so distant from us, a great number of families in which 
the mind had not the power to create gods, to arrange 
a doctrine, to institute a worship, to invent, hymns, and 

' Livy, XXIX. 27 : Ut ea mihi populo plebique Romance bene 
verruncent. Cicero, pro Murenat, I. Ut ea res mihi magistro/- 
tvique m,eo, populo plebique Romance bene atque feliciter eve- 
niat. Macrobius (^Saturn., I. 17) cites an ancient oracle of 
the prophet Marcius, which had the words, Preetor qui jus 
populo plebique dabit. That ancient writers have not always 
paid attention to this essential distinction between populus and 
plebs ought not to surprise us, when we recollect that the dis- 
tinction no longer existed at the time when they wrote. In 
Cicero's age the plebs had for several centuries legally made a 
part of the populus. But the old formulas wliich Livy, Cicero, 
and Macrobius' citej remain as memorials of the time when the 
two classes were not yet confounded. 


the rhythm of the prayer. These families naturally 
found themselves in a state of inferiority compared 
with those who had a. religion, and could not make a 
part of society with them ; they entered neither into 
the curies nor into the city. In the course of time it 
even happened that families which had a religion lost 
it either by negligence, forgetting the rites, or by one 
of those crimes which prevented a man from approach- 
ing his hearth and continuing his worship. It must 
have happened, also, that clients, on account of crime 
or bad treatment, c^uitted the family and renounced its 
religion. The son, too, who was born of a marriage in 
which the rites had not been performed, was reputed a 
bastard, like one who had been born of adultery, and 
the family religion did not exist for him. All these 
men, excluded from the family and from the worship, 
fell into the class of men without a sacred fire — that 
is to say, became plebeians. 

We find this class around almost all the ancient cities, 
but separated hyaline of demarcation. Originally a 
Greek city was double ; there was the city, properly so 
called — n6hg, which was built ordinarily on the sum- 
mit of some hill; it had been built with the religious 
rites, and enclosed the sanctuary of the national gods. 
At the foot of the hill was found an agglomeration of 
houses, which were built without any religious ceremo- 
ny, and without a sacred enclosure. These were the 
dwellings of the plebeians, who could not live in the 
sacred city. 

At Rome the difference between the, two classes was 
striking. The city of the patricians and their clients 
was the one that Romulus founded, according to the 
rites, on the Palatine. The dwellings of the plebs were 
in the asylum, a species of enclosure situated on the 


slope of. the Capitoline Hill, where Romulus admitted 
people without hearth or home, whom he could not 
admit into his city. Later, when new plebeians came 
to Rome, as they were strangers to the religion of the 
city, they were established on the Aventine — that is 
to say, without the ponioerium, or religious city. 

One word characterizes these plebeians — they were 
without a hearth ; they did not possess, in the begin- 
ning, at least, any domestic altars. Their adversaries 
were always reproaching them with having no ances- 
tors, which certainly meant that they had not the wor- 
ship of ancestors, and had no family tomb where they 
could carry their funeral repast. They had no father — 
foter ; that is to say, they ascended the series of their 
ascendants in vain ; they never arrived at a religious 
family chief They had no family — gentem non 
habent ; that is to say, they had only the natural fam- 
ily; as to the one which religion formed and consti- 
tuted, they had not that. 

The sacred marriage did not exist for them ; they 
knew not its Vites. Having no hearth, the union that 
the hearth established was forbidden to them ; there- 
fore the patricians, who knew no other regular union 
than that which united husband and wife in presence 
of the domestic divinity, could say, in speaking of the 
plebeians, " Cormuhia promiscua habent more fera- 
rum." There was no family for them, no paternal 
authority. They had the power over their children 
which strength gave them ; but that sacred authority 
with which religion clothed the father, they had not. 

For them there was no right of property ; for all 
property was established and consecrated by a hearth, 
a tomb, and termini — that is to say, by all the ele- 
ments of the domestic worship. If the plebeian po3> 


sessed land, that land had no sacred charticter ; it was 
profane, and had no boundaries. But could he hold 
land in the earliest times? We know that at Rome 
no one could exercise the right of property if he was 
not a citizen ; and the plebeian, in the first ages of 
Rome, was not a citizen. According to the juris- 
consult, one could not be a proprietor except by qui- 
ritary - right ; but the plebeians were not counted at 
first among the Quirites. At the foundation of Rome 
the ager Momanus was divided up among the tribes, 
the curies, and the gentes. Now, the plebeians, who 
belonged to none of these groups, certainly did not 
share in the division. These plebeians, who had no 
religion, had not the qualification which enabled a man 
to make a portion of the soil his own. We know that 
they long inhabited the Aventine, and built houses 
there; but it was only after three centuries, and many 
struggles, that they finally obtained the ownership of 
this territory. 

For the plebeians there was no law, no justice, since 
the law was the decision of religion, and the procedure 
was a body of rites. The client had the benefit..of the 
Roman franchise thi'ough his patron ; but for the ple- 
beian this right did not exist. An ancient historian 
says formally that the sixth king of Rome was the first 
to make laws for the plebs, whilst the patricians had 
had theirs for'a long time.' It appears even that these 
laws were afterwards withdrawn from the plebs, oi' that, 
not being founded upon religion, the patricians refused 
to pay any attention to them. For we see in the liisto- 
rian that, when tribunes were created, a special law 
was required to protect their lives and liberty, and thai 

' Dionysius, IV. 43. 


this law was worded thus : " Let no one undertake to 
strike or kill a tribune as he would one of the plebs." ' 
It seems, therefore, that any one had a right to strike 
or to kill a plebeian ; or, at least, that this misdeed 
committed against a man who was beyond the pale of 
the law was not punished. 

The plebeians had no political rights. They were 
not at first citizens, and no one among them could be 
a magistrate. For two centuries there was no other 
assembly at Rome than that of the curies; and the 
curies did not include the plebeians. The plebs did not 
even enter into the composition of the army so long as 
that was distributed by curies. 

But what manifestly separated the plebeian from the 
patrician was, that the plebeian had no part in the re- 
ligion of the city. It was impossible for him to fill 
the priestly office. We may even suppose that in the 
earliest ages prayer was forbidden him, and that the 
rites could not be revealed to him. It was as in India 
where " the Sudra should always be ignorant of the 
sacred formulas." He was a foreigner, and consequently 
his presence alone defiled the sacrifice. He was re- 
pulsed by the gods. Between him and the patrician 
there was all the distance that religion could place 
between two men. The plebs were a despised and 
abject class, beyond the pale of religion, law, society, 
and the family. The patrician could compare such an 
existence only with that of the brutes — moreferarum. 
The touch of the plebeian was impure. The decem- 
virs, in their first ten tables, had forgotten to interdict 
marriage between the two orders ; for these first de- 
cemvirs were all patricians, and it never entered the 

' DionyBias, VI. 89. 


mind of one of them that such a marriage was pos- 

We see how many classes in the primitive age of 
the cities were superposed one above another. At the 
head was the aristocracy of family chiefs, those whom 
the official language of Rome called patres, whom the 
clients called reges, whom the Odyssey names ^itOtleXg 
or &vaxTEg. Below were the younger branches of the 
families ; still lower were the clients ; and lowest were 
the plebs. 

This distinction of classes came from religion. For 
at the time when the ancestors of the Greeks, the 
Italians, and the Hindus still lived together in Central 
Asia, religion had said, " The oldest shall offer prayer." 
From this came the pre-eminence of the oldest in every- 
thing ; the oldest branch in every family had been the 
sacerdotal and dominant branch. Still religion made 
great account of the younger branches, who were a 
species of reserve, to replace the older branch some 
day, if it should become extinct, and to save the wor- 
ship. It also made some account of the client, and 
even of the slave, because they assisted. in the religious 
acts. But the plebeian, who had no part in the wor- 
ship, it reckoned as absolutely of no account. The 
ranks had been thus fixed. 

But none of the social arrangements which man 
studies out and establishes is unchangeable. This car- 
ried in itself the germ of disease and death, which was 
too great an inequality. Many men had an interest in 
destroying a social organization that had no benefits 
for them. 



First Bevolutiou. 

1. Political Authority taken from the Mings. 

We have said that, originally, the king was the 
religious chief of the city, the high-priest of the public 
hearth, and that he had added political authority to 
the priestly, hecause it appeared natural that the man 
who represented the religion of the city should at the 
same time be the president of the assembly, the judge, 
and the head of the army. By virtue of this principle, 
it happened that all the powers of the state became 
united in the hands of the king. 

But the heads of families, the j9a<res, and above them 
the chiefs of the phratries and tribes, formed, by the 
side of this king, a very powerful aristocracy. The king 
was not the only king; every /later was king in his own 
gens: even at Rome it was an ancient custom to call 
each one of these powerful patrons by the name of king. 
At Athens every phratry and every tribe had its chief, 
and by the side of the king of the city there were the 
kings of the tribes, (pvKo^aadei;. It was a hierarchy of 
chiefs, all having, in a more or less extended domain, 
the same attributes and the same inviolability. The 
king of the city did not exercise his authority over the 
entire population ; the interior of families and all the 
clients escaped his action. Like the feudal king who 
had as subjects only a few powerful vassals, this king 
of the ancient city commanded only the chiefs of the 
tribes and the gentes, each one of whom might be in- 


dividually as powerful as he, and who, united, were 
much more powerful. We can easily believe that he 
had some difficulty in commanding obedience. Men 
would have great respect for him, because he was the 
head of the worship, and guardian of the sacred hearth; 
but they might not be very submissive, since he had 
little power. The governors and the governed were 
not long in perceiving that they were not of the same 
opinion on the measure of obedience that was due. 
The kings wished to be powerful, and the patres pre- 
ferred that they should not be. A struggle then com- 
menced in all the cities, between the aristocracy and 
the kings. 

Everywhere the issue of the struggle was the same. 
Royalty was vanquished. But we must not forget that 
this primitive royalty was sacred. The king was the 
man who pronounced the prayers, who offered the sacri- 
fice, who had, in fine, by hereditary right, the power 
to call down upon the city the protection of the gods. 
Men could not think, therefore, of doing away with 
the king ; one was necessary to their religion ; one was 
necessary to the safety of the city. So we see in all 
the cities whose history is known to us, that they did 
not at first touch the religious authority of the king, 
and contented themselves with taking away his politi- 
cal power. This was only a sort of appendix, whieii 
the kings had added to their priesthood, and was not, 
like that, sacred and inviolable. It might be taken 
from the kings without imperilling religion. 

Royalty was, therefore, preserved ; but, shorn of its 
power, it was no longer anything but a priesthood. 
"In very ancient times,'' says Aristotle, "kings had 
absolute power in peace and war ; but in the course 
of time some renounced this power voluntarily, from 


Others it was taken by force, and nothing was left to 
these kings but the care of the sacrifices." Plutarch 
gives a similar account : "As the kings displayed pride 
and rigor in their commands, the greater part of the 
Greeks took away their power, and left them only the 
care of religion." ' Herodotus, speaking of the city of 
Gyrene, says, "They left to Battus, a descendant of the 
kingSj the care of the worship and the possession of 
the sacred lands, but they took away all the power 
which his fathers had enjoyed." 

This royalty, thus reduced to a priesthood, con- 
tinued, in most cases, to be hereditary in the sacred 
family that had long before established the hearth and 
commenced the national worship. In the time of the 
Roman empire — that is to say, seven or eight centuries 
after this revolution, — there were yet at Ephesus, at 
Marseilles, and at Thespjae,, families who preserved 
the title and insignia of ancient royalty, and who still 
presided over religious ceremonies.' In the other cities 
the saci'ed families were extinct, and the kingly office 
had become elective, and generally annual. 

2. History of this Revolution at Sparta. 

Sparta always had kings, and still the revolution of 
which we speak was accomplished here as well as in 
the other cities. 

It appears that the first Dorian kings reigned as 
absolute masters. But in the third generation the 
struggle commenced between the kings and the aris- 
tocracy. During two centuries there was a series of 
struggles, which made Sparta one of the most un- 

' Aristotle, Politics, III. 9, 8. Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 63. 
* Strabo, IV. ; IX. Diodorus, IV. 29. 


quiet cities in Greece. We know that one of these 
kings, the father of Lycurgusj was killed by the blow 
of a stone in a civil war.' 

Nothing is more obscure than the history of Lycur- 
gus. His ancient biographer commences with these 
words: " We can say nothing of him that Is not subject 
to controversy." ■ It seems certain, at least, that Lycur- 
gus appeared in a time of dissensions, " at a time when 
the government floated in the midst of perpetual agita- 
tion." What appears the most clearly from all the in- 
formation that has come down to us concerning him, 
is, that his reform dealt loyalty a blow from which' it 
never recovered. "Under Charilaus," says Aristotle, 
"the monarchy gave place to an aristocracy."* Now, 
this Charilaus was king when Lycurgus made his re- 
form. We know, moreover, from Plutarch, ■that Lycur- 
gus was intrusted with the duty of making laws only 
when a civil disturbance arose, during which king 
Charilaus sought safety in a temple. Lycurgus had 
for a moment the power to suppress royalty : he took 
good care not to do this, judging that royalty was 
necessary, and the royal family inviolable. But he 
arranged so that the kings, were thenceforth subordinate 
to the senate in whatever concerned the government, 
and that they were no longer anything more than 
presidents of this assembly, and the executors of its 
decrees. A century later, royalty was still farther 
weakened; the executive power was taken away and, 
was intrusted to annual magistrates, who were called 

' Strabo, VIII. 6. Plutarch, Lycurgus, 2. 

" Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 10, 3 (V. 10). Heracleides of 
Pontus, in Fragm. Eist. Graf., coll. Didot, t. II. p. 11. Plu- 
tarch, Lycurgus, 4. 


It is easy to judge by the duties of the ephors what 
those were that were left to the king. The ephors 
pronounced judgment in civil cases, while the senate 
tried criminal cases. The ephors, with the advice of 
the senate, declared war, or settled the articles of 
treaties of peace. In time of war two ephors accom- 
panied the king and watched over him ; they decided 
on the plan of the campaign, and superintended all the 
operations.' What remained, then, for the kings, if 
the law, the foreign relations, and military operations 
were taken from them ? They had the priesthood left. 
Herodotus describes their prerogatives: "If the city 
offers a sacrifice, they have the first place at the sa- 
cred repast ; they are served first, and have a double 
portion. They are the first also to make a libation, 
and the skins of the victims belong to them. Each 
one receives, twice a month, a victim, which he sacri- 
fices to Apollo." ' "The kings,'' says Xeiiophon, " offer 
the public sacrifices, and they have the best parts of 
the victims." If they did not act as judges either in 
civil or in criminal affairs, they still had reserved to 
them the right of deciding in all affairs which con- 
cerned religion. In case of war, one of the kings always 
proceeded at the head of the troops, offering sacrifices 
and consulting the presages. In presence of the enemy 

' Thucydides, V. 63. Hellanicus, II. 4. Xenophon, Gov. of 
Laced., 14 (13); Hett., VI. 4. Plutarch, Agesilaus, 10, 17, 23, 
28 ; Lysander, 23. The king had so little, of his own right, the 
direction of military affairs, that a special act of the senate was 
necessary to confirm the command of the army to Agesilaus, 
who thus united exceptionally the functions of king and general. 
Plutarch, Agesilaus, 6 ; Lysander, 23. It had been the same 
previously,, in the case of king Pausanias. Thucydides. I. 128. 

« Herodotus, VI. 66, 67. 


he slew victims, and when the signs were favorable, he 
gave the signal for battle. During the combat he was 
surrounded by diviners, who indicated to him the will 
of tbj gods, and flute-players, who sounded the sa- 
cred hymns. The Spartans said the king commanded, 
because he was in possession of both religion and the 
auspices ; but the ephors and the polemarchs directed 
all the movements of the army.* 

We can therefore justly say that the royalty of 
Sparta was merely an hereditary priesthood. The same 
revolution which suppressed the political power of the 
kings in other cities suppressed it also in Sparta. The 
power belonged really to the senate, which directed, 
and to the ephors, who executed. The kings, in all 
that did not concern religion, obeyed the ephors. He- 
rodotus could therefore say that Sparta did not know 
the monarchical regime ; and Aristotle, that the gov- 
ernment of Sparta was an aristocracy.' 

3. The same Mevolution at Athens. 

We have seen above what the primitive population 
of Attica was. A certain number of families, indepen- 
dent and without any bond of union among them, 
occupied the country ; each one of them formed a 
society, governed by an hereditary chief. Later these 
families were united in groups, and from their associa- 
tion grew the Athenian city. The great work of com- 
pleting the unity of Attica is attributed to Theseus. 
But the traditions add — and we can easily believe — 
that Theseus must have met with strong resistance. The 
class of men who opposed him were not the clients, or 

' Xenophon, Gov. of Laced. 

« Herodotus, V. 92. Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 10 (V. 10). 


the poor, who were scattered about in the villages and 
the yipyj. These men rejoiced, rather, at a change 
which gave a chief to their chiefs, and assured to them- 
selves a refuge and a protection. The ones who suf- 
fered by the change were the chiefs of families, and the 
chiefs of villages and tribes, the daaiUXg, cpvlo^ucnurg, 
those Eupatrids who, by hereditary right, held the 
supreme authority in their yivng, or in their tribe. 
These stoutly defended their independence, and when 
it was lost they lamented its loss. 

At any rate they retained all they could of their an- 
cient independence. Each remained the absolute chief 
of his tribe, or of his yii'os. Theseus could not destroy 
an authority which religion had established, and which 
it rendered inviolable. Still further, if we examine the 
traditions which relate to this epoch, we shall see that 
these powerful Eupatrids agreed to associate for the 
purpose of forming a city only after stipulating that 
the government should be really federative, anci that 
each one of themselves should have a part in it. There 
was, indeed, a supreme king ; but as soon as the com- 
mon interest was at stake, the assembly of the chiefs 
was convoked, and nothing of importance conjld be 
done without the consent of this species of a senate. 

These traditions, in the language of succeeding gen- 
erations, were expressed somewhat after this, manner: 
" Theseus changed the government of Athens from a 
monarchy to a republic." This is the account of Aris- 
totle, Isocrates, Demosthenes, and Plutarch.. In this 
somewhalt deceptive statement there is a foundation of 
truth. Theseus did, indeed, as tradition says, " restore 
the sovereign authority to the hands of the people." 
Only the word people, Sriuog, which the tradition has 
preserved, had not, in the time of Theseus, so extended 


an application as it had in the time of Demosthenes. 
This people, or political body, was then no other thnn 
an aristocracy — that is to say, the entire body of the 
chiefs of the yivrj. 

Theseus, in establishing this assembly, was not neces- 
sarily an innovator. But in spite of him the forma- 
tion of the great Athenian unity changed the condi- 
tions of the government. As soon as these Eupatrids, 
whose authority remained intact in the families, were 
united in the same city, they formed a powerful body, 
which had its rights, and might make its claims. Tiie 
king of the little rock of Cecrops became the king of 
all Attica ; but instead of being, as in his little village, an 
absolute king, he was now only the chief of a federative 
state — that is to say, the first among equals. A con- 
flict between this aristocracy and royalty could not be 
long delayed. "The Eupatrids regretted the really 
royal power which each one of them had previously 
exercised in his village. It appears that these war- 
rior priests placed religion in the front rank, and pi-e- 
tended that the authority of the local worships had 
been diminished. If it is true, as Thucydides says, that 
Theseus attempted to destroy the prytanea of the vil- 
lages, it is not surprising that the religious sentiment 
was aroused against him. It is impossible to say how 
many contests he had to sustain, how many risings he 
had to repress, by address or by force. What is cer- 
tain is, that he was finally vanquished ; that he was 
driven from Athens, and died in exile. 

The Eupatrids then had full sway; they did not 
suppress royalty, but they set up a king of their choice, 
Menestheus. After him, the family of Theseus recov- 
ered the power, and held it during three generations. 
It was then replaced by another family-:— that of the 


MelanthidaB. This whole period must have been very 
unquiet; but no definite account of the cjvil wars has 
been preserved. 

The death of Codrus coincides with the final victory 
of the Eupatrids. They did not yet suppress royalty, 
for their religious notions forbade this ; but they took 
away its political power. The traveller Pausanias, 
who lived long after these events, but who carefully 
consulted the traditions, says that royalty then lost a 
great part of its attributes, and " became dependent," 
which signifies, doubtless, that it was thenceforth sub- 
ordinate to the senate of the Eupatrids. Modern histo- 
rians call this period of Athenian history that of the 
archonships, and rarely fail to say that royalty was 
then abolished. But this is not strictly true. The 
descendants of Codrus succeeded each other from 
father to son during thirteen generations. They had 
the title of archon, but there are ancient documents 
which give them also that of king,' and we have 
already said that these two titles were exactly synony- 
mous. Athens, therefore, during this long period, still 
had hereditary kings; but it had taken away their 
power, and had left them only the religious functions. 
This is what had been done at Sparta. 

At the end of three centuries, the Eupatrids found 
that this religious royalty was still more powerful than 
they desired, and they weakened it still more. They 
decided that the same man should not be clothed with 
this high sacerdotal dignity for more than ten years 
But they continued to believe that the ancient royal 
family was alone qualified to fill the office of archon.'' 

" See Parian Marbles, and Comp. Pausanias, I, 3, 2 ; VII. 2, 
I; Plato, Menexenes, p. 238, c. ; ^lian, V. H., V. 13. 
" Pausanias, IV. 3. 


About forty years passed thus. But one day the' 
royal family was stained with a crime, and men thought 
it could no longer fill the priestly office ; ' that thence- 
forth the archons should be chosen outside this family, 
and that this dignity should be accessible to all the 
Eupatrids. Forty years later, in order to enfeeble this 
royalty, or to distribute it into more hands, they made 
it annual, and divided it into two distinct magistracies. 
Tip to that time the archon was at the same time king; 
but thenceforth these two titles were separated. A mag- 
istrate called an archon, and another magistrate called 
a king, shared the attributes of the ancient religious 
royalty. The duty of watching over the perpetuation 
of families, of authorizing or forbidding adoption, of 
receiving wills, of deciding questions relating to real 
property — everything in which religion was interest- 
ed — devolved upon the archon. The duty of offering 
the solemn sacrifices, and that of judging cases of 
impiety, were reserved to the kings. Thus the title 
of king — a sacred title, which was necessary to religion 
— was perpetuated in the city with the sacrifices and 
the national worship. The king and the archon, to- 
gether with the polemarch and the six thesmothetse, 
who had perhaps existed for a long time, completed 
the number of nine annual magistrates, whom it was 
the custom to call the nine archons, from the name of 
the first among them. 

The revolution that took from royalty its political 
power, was carried through under different forms in all 
the cities. At Argos, from the second generation of 
Dorian kings, royalty was so weakened "that there was 

' Heracleidesof Pontus, I. 3. Nicholas of Damascus, Fragm. 


left to the descendants of Temenus only the name of 
king, without any power ; " still this royalty remained 
heveditary during several centuries.' At Cyrene the 
descendants of Battus at first united in their hands the 
priesthood and the political power ; but after the fourth 
generation nothing was left them but the priesthood.' 
At Corinth royalty was at first transmitted heredita- 
rily in the family of the Bacchidae. The effect of the 
revolution was to render the office annual, but without 
taking it from this family, whose members held it by 
turns for a century. 

4. The same HevoluHon at Home. 

At first, royalty was at Rome what it had been in 
Greece. The king was the high priest of the city ; he 
was at the same time the supreme judge ; he also com- 
manded the armed citizens. Next to him were the 
patres, who formed a senate. ■ There was but one king, 
because religion enjoined unity in the priesthood and 
unity in the government. But it was understood that 
on all important affairs the king must consult the heads 
of the confederated families.' From this time histo- 
rians mention an assembly of the people. But we 
must inquire what was then the meaning of the word 
people (populifs), that is to say, what was the body 
politic in the time of the first kings. All the witnesses 
agree that the people always assembled by curies ; now 
the curies were the collection of the gentes ; every 
gens repaired there in a body, and had but one vote. 
The clients were there, ranged round the paterj con- 

' Fausanias, II. 19. 

' Herodotus, IV. 161. Diodorus, VIII. 

• Cicero, Ve Repuh., II. 8. 


suited perhaps, perhaps giving their advice, contribut- 
ing towards the single vote which the gens cast, but 
with no power to give an opinion contrary to that 
of the pater. This assembly of the curies was, then, 
nothing but the patrician city united in j)resence of the 

By this we see that Rome was in the same state as 
the other cities. The king was in the presence of an 
aristocratic body very strongly organized, and which 
derived its power from religion. The same conflicts 
which we have seen in Greece, therefore, took place in 
Rome. The history of the seven kings is the history 
of this long quarrel. The first wished to increase his 
power and free himself from the authority of the sen- 
ate. He sought the favor of the inferior classes, but 
the Fathers were hostile to him ; and he perished, as- 
sassinated in an assembly of the senate. 

The aristocracy immediately dream of abolishing 
royalty, and the Fathers fill by turns the place of the 
king. The lower classes are agitated, it is true ; they 
do not wish to be governed by the chiefs of the gentes, 
and demand the restoration of royalty.' But the patri- 
cians satisfy themselves by deciding that henceforth it 
shall be elective, and they fix the forms of election with 
marvellous skill. The senate must choose the candi- 
date ; the patrician assembly of the curies must eon- 
firm this choice ; and, finally, the patrician augurs must 
declare whether this newly-elected king is pleasing to 
the gods. 

Niima was elected according to these rules. He was 
very religious — rather a priest than a warrior, a very 
scrupulous observer of all the rites of worship, and 

' Livy, I. Cicero, De Repuh., II. 


consequently very strongly attached to the religious 
constitution of the families and the city. He was a 
king after the hearts of the patricians, and died peacea- 
bly in his bed. 

It should seem that, under Numa, royalty had been 
reduced to its priestly functions, as it had been in the 
Greek cities. It is at least certain that the religious 
authority of the king was entirely distinct from his 
political, and that one did not necessarily accompany 
the other. What proves this is, that there was a 
double election. By virtue of the first, the king was 
merely a religious chief; if to this dignity he wished to 
join the political power, imperium, it was necessary 
that the city should confer it upon him by a special 
decree. This conclusion follows clearly from what 
Cicero has told us of the ancient constitution. Thus 
the priesthood and the political power were distinct ; 
they might be placed in the same hands, but for that 
two comitia and a double election were necessary. 

The third king certainly united them in his own 
hands. He held both the priestly office and the com- 
mand ; he was even more warrior than priest ; he 
neglected, and wished to diminish, the religious element, 
the strength of the aristocracy. We see him welcome 
a multitude of strangers to Rome, in spite of the reli- 
gious principle which excluded them ; he even dai-ed to 
live in the midst of them on the Caelian Hill. We also 
see him distribute to plebeians lands, the revenue of 
which, up to that time, had been appropriated to de- 
fraying the expenses of the sacrifices. The patricians 
accused him of having neglected the rites, and, what 
was even worse, of having modified and altered them. 
And so he died like Romulus ; the gods of the patricians 
destroyed him and his sons with a thunderbolt. This 

CHAP. III. riESl EBVOLnxiON. 327 

event restored the supremacy to the senate, which set 
up a king of its own choice. Ancus scrupulously ob- 
served all the religious rites, made war as seldom as 
possible, and passed his life in the temples. Dear to 
the patricians, he died in his bed. 

The fifth king was Tarquin, who obtained the throne 
in spite of the senate, and by the help of the lower 
classes. He was troubled little with religious scruples ; 
indeed, he was very incredulous ; nothing less than a 
miracle could convince him of the science of the augurs. 
He was an enemy of the ancient families ; he created 
patricians, and changed the old religious constitution 
of the city as much as possible. Tarquin was assassi- 

The sixth king gained possession of the throne by 
stratagem : it should seem, indeed, that the senate 
never recognized him as a legitimate king. He flat- 
tered the lower classes, distributed lands among them 
without regard to the rights df property, and even con- 
ferred political rights upon them. Servius was mur- 
dered on the steps of the senate house. 

The quarrel between the kings and the aristocracy 
assumed the character of a social struggle. The kings 
sided with the people, and depended for support upon 
the clients and the plebs. To the patrician order, so 
powerfully organized, they opposed the lower classes, 
so numerous at Rome. The aristocracy then found 
itself threatened by a double peril, the worst of which 
was not the necessity of giving way before royalty. It 
saw rising in its rear the classes that it despised. It 
saw the plebs organizing, a class without religion and 
without a sacred fire. It saw itself in danger of being 
attacked by its clients, within the family itselfj whose 
consiitution, rights, and religion were discussed and 


jeopardized. In the eyes of the aristocracy, therefore, 
the kings were odious enemies, who, to augment theii 
own power, were planning to overthrow the sacred 
organization of the family and of the city. 

The second Tarquin succeeded Servius; he disap- 
pointed the hopes of the senators who had elected him, 
an d wished to be ni aster — de rege dominus exstitit. He 
weakened the patricians to the extent of his power; 
he struck off the highest heads; reigned without con- 
sulting the Fathers, and made war and peace without 
asking their approval. The patricians seemed com- 
pletely subdued. 

Finally, an occasion presented itself. Tarquin was 
iar from Rome ; his army — that is to say, his support — 
was also away. The city was, for a time, in the hands 
of the patriciiuis. The prefect of the city — that is 
to say, the one who held the civil power during the 
absence of tlie king — was a patrician, Lucretius. The 
commander of the cavalry — that is to say, the one 
whose military authority was next to that of the king 
— was a patrician, Junius.' These two men prepared 
the insurrection. They had, as associates, other pa- 
tricians, Valerius and Tarquinius Collatinns. The 
place of meeting was not at Rome, but at the little 
city of CoUatia, which was the property of one of the 
conspirators. There they showed the people the body 
of a woman ; they said this woman had taken her own 
life as a punishment for the crime of a son of the king. 
The people of Collatia revolt and move on to Rome ; 
there the same scene is renewed. Men are taken by 
suiprise ; the king's partisans are disconcerted, and be- 
sides, at this very moment, the legal power in Rome 
belongs to Junius and Lucretius. 

' The Junian family was patrician. Dionysius, IV. 68. 


The conspirators take good care not to assemble the 
people, but to repair to the senate house. The senate 
declares Tarquin dethroned and royalty abolished. But 
the decree of the senate must be confirmed by the city. 
Lucretius, as prefect of the city, has the right to con- 
voke the assembly. The curies are assembled, and they 
agree with the conspirators ; they declare for the dep- 
osition of Tarquin, and the creation of two consuls. 

This principal point being decided, they leave the 
nomination of the consuls to the assembly by centuries. 
But will not this assembly, in which some plebeians 
vote, protest against what the patricians have done in 
the senate and the curies? It cannot. For every 
Roman assembly is presided over by a magistrate, who 
states the object of the vote, and no other question can 
come up for deliberation. More than this, none but 
the president at this period has the right to speak. 
If a law is to be voted upon, the centuries can vote 
only yes or no. If it is an election, the president pre- 
sents the candidates, and no candidate except those 
presented can be voted for. In the present case, the 
president appointed by the senate is Lucretius, one of 
the conspirators. He states that the only object of the 
meeting is the election of two consuls. He presents 
two names, those of Junius and Tarquinius Collatinus, 
as candidates for the office. These two men are neces- 
sarily elected. The senate now ratify the election, and 
lastly the augurs confirm it in the name of the gods. 

This revolution did not please every body at Rome. 
Many plebeians joined the king, and followed his for- 
tunes. On the other hand, a rich Sabine patrician, the 
powerful chief of a numerous gens, the haughty Attus 
Clausus, found the new government so much to his taste 
that he came to Rome to live. 


Still it was political royalty only that was suppressed : 
religious royalty was sacred, and must endure. There- 
fore men hastened to name a king, but one who was 
king only for the sacrifices — rex sacrorum. All im- 
aginable precautions were taken that this king-priest 
should never take advantage of the great prestige 
which his office gave him, and seize upon the civi' 

The Aristocracy governs the City. 

The same revolution, under forms slightly varied, 
took place at Athens, at Sparta, at Rome, in all the 
cities, in fine, whose history is known to us. Every- 
where it was the work of the aristocracy ; everywhere 
it resulted in suppressing political royalty and con- 
tinuing religious royalty. From this "epoch, during a 
period wkose duration was very unequal in different 
cities, the government of the city was in the hands of 
the aristocracy. 

This aristocracy rested at the same time on birth and 
religion. It had its foundation in the religious con- 
stitution of the family. It originated in the same rules 
that we have noticed above, in the domestic worship 
and in private law — that is to say, the law of the 
hereditary descent of the sacred fire, the right of pri-^ 
mogeuiture, and the right of pronouncing the prayei-s, 
which was the prerogative of birth. An hereditary 
religion was the title of this aristoci'acy to absolute 
dominion, and gave it rights that appeared sacred. 
According to ancient ideas, he alone could be an owner 


of land who had a domestic worship ; he alone was a 
member of the city who embodied the religious char- 
acter which constituted the citizen ; he alone could be 
a priest who was a descendant of a family having. a wor- 
ship ; be alone could be a magistrate who had the right 
to offer the sacrifices. A man who had no hereditary 
worship might be the client of another man ; or, if he 
preferred it, he could remain without the pale of all soci- 
ety. For many generations it did not enter the minds 
of men that this inequality was unjust. No one had 
thought of establishing human society upon any other 

At Athens, from the death of Codrus to the time of 
Solon, all authority was in the hands of the E.apatrids. 
They alone were priests and archons. They alone acted 
as judges, and knew the laws, which were not written, 
and whose sacred formulas were transmitted from 
father to son. 

These families preserved as much as possible the an- 
cient forms of the patriarchal regime. They did not 
live united in the city, but continued to live in the 
various cantons of Attica, each on its vast domain, 
surrounded by its numerous servants, governed by its 
Eupatrid chiefj and practising its hereditary worship 
in absolute independence.' During four centuries the 
Atlienian city was merely a confederation of these 
powerful heads of families, who assembled on certain 
days for the celebration of the central worship, or for 
the pursuit of common interests. 

Men have often remarked how mute history is re- 
garding this long period in the life of Athens, and in 
general in the lite of Greek cities. They are surprised 

' Thttoydides, II. 15, 16. 


that, when it has preserved the memory of so many 
events from the times of the ancient kiugs, it has re- 
corded so few of the time of the aristocratic govern- 
ments. The reason is doubtless because at that time 
very few acts of general interest took place. The re- 
turn of the patriarchal regime had almost suspended 
the national life. Men lived ajiart, and had few com- 
mon interests. The horizon of each one was the small 
group and the small hamlet where he lived, as Eupatrid 
or as servant. 

At Rome, too, each patrician family lived upon its 
estate, surrounded by its clients. Men came to the city 
to celebrate the festivals of the public worship, and for 
the public assemblies. During the years that followed 
the expulsion of the kings, the power of the aristocracy 
was absolute. None but a patrician could fill the 
priestly oflBce in the city ; the vestals, the pontiffs, the 
salii, the flamens, and the augurs, were chosen exclu- 
sively from the sacred caste. Patricians alone could 
be consuls-; they alone composed the senate. Though 
they did not suppress the assembly by centuries, to 
which the plebeians had access, they at any rate re- 
garded the assembly by curies as the only one that was 
legitimate and sacred. The centuries had, in appear- 
ance, the election of the consuls ; but we have seen 
that they could vote only on the names that the pa- 
tricians presented, and, besides, their decisions were 
submitted to the triple ratification of the senate, the 
curies, and the augurs. Patricians alone administered 
justice, and knew the forms of the law. 

This political system lasted at Rome only a few 
years. In Greece, on the contrary, there was a long 
period during which the aristocracy was master. The 
Odyssey presents us with a faithful picture of this 


Bocial state in the -western portion of Greece. We see 
there a patriarchal regime strongly resembling what 
we have remarked in Attica. A few great and rich 
families own the whole country. Numerous slaves cul- 
tivate the soil, or tend the flocks ; the manner of living 
is simple — a single table suffices for the chief and 
the servants. These chiefs are called by a name which 
becomes, under other circumstances, a pompous title — 
&iiaxTes, ^aadeig. Thus it happened that the Athenians 
of primitive times gave the chief of the yifog the title 
of ^aadeig, and that at Rome the clients preserved 
the custom of calling the chief of the gens rex. These 
heads of families have a sacred character ; the poet 
calls them divine kings, Ithaca is very small, yet it 
contains a great number of these kings. Among them 
there is indeed a supreme king ; but he is of little im- 
portance, and appears to have no other prerogative 
than that of presiding at the council of the chiefs. It 
appears, even, from certain indications, that this office 
is elective, and it is clear the Telemachus will not be 
the supreme chief of the isle, unless the other chiefs, 
his equals, wish to elect him. Ulysses, returning to 
his country, appears to have no other subjects than the 
servants who belong to him personally. When he has 
slain some of the chiefs, their servants take up arms 
and sustain a contest which the poet does not think 
blameworthy. Among the Phaeacians, Alcinous has 
supreme authority ; but we see him repair to an assem- 
bly of the chiefs ; and we may remark that he does 
not convoke the council, but that the council summons 
the king. The poet describes an assembly of the Phaea- 
cian city. It is far from being an assembly of the mul- 
titude; the chiefs alone, individually convoked by a 
herald, as at Rome for the comitia calata, assemble ; 


they occupy seats of stone; the king makes an addressj 
and calls his auditors sceptre-bearing kings. 

In Hesiod's city, the rocky Ascra, we find a class of 
men whom the poet calls the chiefs, or kings. They 
are those who administer justice to the people. Pin- 
dar also shows us a class of chiefs among the Cadmae- 
aus ; at Thebes he extols the sacred race of th^ Sparti, 
from which, at a later date, Epaminondas derives his 
descent. We can hardly read Pindar without being 
struck with the aristocratic spirit which still reigned in 
Greek society in the time of the Persian wars. Prom 
this we may imagine how powerful the aristocracy was 
a century or two earlier. For what the poet boasts 
of the most in his heroes, is their family ; and we must 
suppose that this sort of praise was at that time highly 
valued, and that birth still seemed the supreme good. 
Pindar shows us the great families which were then 
conspicuous in each city; in the single city of ^gina 
he names the MidylidsB, the Theandridse, the Euxenidae, 
the Blepsiadse, the Chariadse, the Balychidse. At Syra- 
cuse he extols a priestly family of the lamidas ; at Ag- 
rigentum, that of the Emmenidse, and so on for all the 
cities of which he has occasion to speak. 

At Epidaurus, the entire body of the citizens — ^that 
is to say, of those who had political rights — was for a 
long time composed of no more than one hundred and 
eighty members. All the rest "were outside the 
city." ' The real citizens were still fewer at Heraclea, 
where the younger members of the great families had 
no political rights." The case was a long time the 
same at Cnidus, at Istros, and at Marseilles. At Thera 

' Plutarch, Gr. Quest., I. 

' Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 6, 2. 


all the power was in the hands of a few families which 
■were reputed sacred. It was the same at Apollonia.' 

At Erythrse there was an aristocratic class called the 
Basilidse. In the cities of Eubcea the ruling class 
were called the knights.* We may remark here that 
among the ancients, as in the middle ages, it was a 
privilege to fight on horseback. 

The monarchy had already ceased to exist at Corinth 
when a colony set out from there to found Sj racuse. 
The new city, therefore, knew nothing of royalty, and 
was ruled from the first by an aristocracy. This class 
was called Geomori, that is to say, proprietors. It was 
ocmposed of families which, on the day of the founda- 
tion, had distributed among themselves, with all the 
ordinary rites, the sacred parts of the territory. This 
aristocracy remained for several generations absolute 
master of the government, and it preserved its title 
of proprietors, which seems to indicate that the lower 
classes had not the right of property in the soil. An 
aristocracy of the same kind ruled for a long time at 
Miletus and at Samos.' 

• Aristotle, Pelitics, III. 9, 8 ; VI. 3, 8. 
» Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 5, 10. 

' Diodorus, VIII. 5. Thucydides, VIII. 21. Herodotus, VII 



Second Revolution. Change in the Constitution of the 
Family. The Eight of Birth disappears. The Gens 
is dismembered. 

The revolution -which had overturned royalty had 
modified the exterior form of the government rsither 
than changed the constitution of society. It had not 
been the work of the lower classes, who had an interest 
in destroying the old institutions, bnt of the aristocracy, 
who wished to maintain them. It had not been under- 
taken in order to overturn the ancient constitution of 
the family, but rather to preserve it. The kings had 
often been tempted to elevate the inferior classes and 
to weaken the gentes, and for this the kings themselves 
had been dethroned. The aristocracy had brought 
about a political revolution only to prevent a social 
one. They had taken the power in hand, less from the 
pleasure of ruling than to protect their old institutions, 
their ancient principles, their domestic worship, their 
paternal authority, the regime of the gens — in fine, 
the private law which the primitive religion had estab? 

This great and general effort of the aristocracy was 
to meet a danger. N"ow, it appears that, in spite of 
these efforts, and of the victory itself, the danger con- 
tinued. The old institutions began to totter, and 
grave changes were about to be introduced into the 
inner constitution of the family. The old rule of the 
gens, founded by the domestic religion, had not been 
destroyed at the time when men passed to the gov- 


eriiment of tlie city. They had not wished, tliey had 
not been able, immediately to renounce it, as the chiefs 
clung to their authority, and the lower classes had not 
at first the desire to free themselves. The rule of 
the gens was therefore reconciled with that of the city. 
But these were in reality two antagonistic forms of 
government, which men could not hope to ally forever, 
and which must sooner or later be at war with each 
other. The family, indivisible and numerous, was too 
strong and too independent for the social power not lo 
feel the temptation, and even the need, of weakening 
it. Either the city could not last, or it must in the 
course of time break up the family. 

The ancient gens, with its single hearth, its sovereign 
chief, and its indivisible domain, was a convenient ar- ^ 
rangement so long as the state of isolation continued, 
and no other form of society than itself existed. But 
as soon as men were united in cities, the authority of 
the ancient chief was necessarily diminished; for 
though he was sovereign in his own gens, he was a, 
member of a community ; as such, the general interests 
obliged him to make sacrifices, and general laws com- 
manded obedience. In his own eyes, and, above all, 
in the. eyes of his inferiors, his dignity was impaired. 
Then, in this community, aristocratically as it was con- 
stituted, the lower classes counted for something, if 
only on account of their numbers. The family which 
comprised several branches, and which attended the 
comitia, surrounded by a multitude of clients, naturally 
had greater authority in the general deliberations tlian 
a small family that counted few hands and few sol- 
diers. Now, these inferiors were not slow to see their 
importance and strength. A certain sentiment of 
pride, and the desire for a better fate, grew up among 


them. Added to this was the rivalry of the heads of 
families striving for influence and seeking mutually to 
weaken each other. Then, too, they were ambitious 
of the magistracies of the city. To obtain these they 
sought popularity, and to hold them, they neglected or 
forgot their little sovereignties. These causes pro- 
duced by degrees a sort of relaxation in the constitu- 
tion of the gens ; those for whose interest it was to 
maintain this constitution held to it less, while those 
who had an interest in. modifying it became bolder 
and stronger. 

The force of individuality, at first strong in the fam- 
ily, insensibly became weaker. The right of primogen- 
iture, which was the condition of its unity, disappeared. 
We ought not to expect that any writer of antiquity 
should furnish us the exact date of this great change. 
It is probable that there was no date, because the 
change did not take place in a year. It was effected 
by degrees — at first in one family, then in another, 
and little by little in all. It happened, so to speak, 
without any one's perceiving it. 

We can easily perceive, also, that men did not pass 
at once from the indivisibility of the patrimony to the 
equal division among the brothers. There was appar- 
ently a transition period between these two conditions 
of property. Affairs probably took the same course in 
Greece and Italy as in ancient Hindu society, where 
the religious law after having prescribed the indivisi- 
bility of the patrimony, left the father fi-ee to give 
some portion of it to his younger sons; then, after 
having required that the oldest should have at least a 
double portion, permitted the apportionment to be 
eq-ial, and finished by recommending this arrange- 


But we have no precise information upon these 
points. A single fact is certain — that the right of pri- 
mogeniture existed at an ancient epoch, and that after- 
wards it disappeared. 

This change was not accomplished at the same time, 
nor in the same manner, in all the cities. In some 
legislation maintained it for a long time. At Thebes 
and at Corinth it was still in vigor in the eighth century. 
At Athens legislation still showed some preference for 
the oldest. At Sparta the right of primogeniture con- 
tiimed until the triumph of democracy. There were 
cities where it disappeared only after an insurrection. 
At Heraclea, Cnidus, Istros, and Marseilles the younger 
branches took up arms to destroy at tlie same time the 
right of primogeniture and the paternal authority.' 
From that time Greek cities that had not before counted 
more than a hundred men enjoying political rights, 
could count five or six hundred. All the members of 
aristocratic famil'es were citizens, and magistracies and 
the senate were open to them. 

It is impossible to tell at what time the privilege of 
birth disappeared at Rome. It is probable that the 
kings, in the midst of their struggle against the aris- 
tocracy, did all that lay in their power thus to suppress 
and disorganize the gentes. At the beginning of the 
republic, we see a hundred new members enter the 
senate. Livy believed that they came from the plebs ; " 
but it is not possible that the hard rule of the patricians 
could have commenced with a concession of this nature. 

' Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 5, 2, ed. B. Saint Hilaire. 

" He contradicts himself elsewhere. Hx primoribus ordinis 
eqvestris, he says. Now, the primores of the equestrian order — 
that is to say, the kniglits of the first six centuries — were patri- 
cians. See Belot, Sist. des chevaliers romains, lir. I. ch. 2. 


These new senatoi's must have been taken from patri- 
cian families; they had not the same title as the old 
members of the senate; these latter were called patres 
(chiefs of families) ; the new ones were called conscripti 
(chosen).' Does not this difference of name make it 
probable that the hundred new senators, who were not 
family chiefs, belonged to younger branches of patrician 
geiites ? We may suppose that this class of the younger 
branches, being numerous arid energetic, lent its sup- 
port to the entei-prise of Brutus and the /others, only 
on the condition of receiving civil and political rights. 
These branches thus acquired, through the need which 
the patres had of tlwm, what the same class conquered 
by its arms at Heraclea, Cnidus, and Marseilles. 

The right of primogeniture, then, disappeared every- 
where — an important revolution which began to trans- 
form society. The Italian gens and the Hellenic yipog 
lost their primitive unity. The different branches sep- 
arated ; thenceforth each had its share of the property, 
its domicile, its own interests, and its independence. 
Singuli singulas familias incipiuni habere, says the 
jurisconsult. There is in the Latin language an old 
expression which appears to date fi-om this epoch ; 
familiam ducere, they said of one who separated from 
the gens, and established a new stock, just as they said 
ducere coloniam of one who quitted the metropolis, 
and went to found a colony. The brother who thus 
separated from the oldest brother had thenceforth his 
own sacred fire, which, doubtless, he had lighted at the 
common fire of the gens, as the colony lighted its fire 
at the prytaneum of the metropolis. The gens no longer 

' Pestus, V. Conscripti, Allecti. Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 68. 
For several centuries the patres were distinguished from the 


preserved anything more than a sort of religious author- 
ity over the different families that had left it. Its worship 
had the supremacy over theirs. They vi'ere not allowed 
to forget that they had sprung from thisi gens ; they con- 
tinued to bear its name; on fixed days they assembled 
around the common fire, to venerate the ancient ances- 
tor or the protecting divinity. They continued even to 
have a religious chief, and it is probable that the oldest 
preserved his privilege of the. priesthood, whicii long 
remained hereditary. With this exception, they were 

This dismemberment of the gens led to important 
consequences. The antique priestly family, which had 
formed a group so firmly united, so strongly consti- 
tuted, so powerful, was forever weakened. This revolu- 
tion paved the way for other changes, and rendered 
them easier 


The Clients become Free. 

1. What Clientship was at first, and Jioio it was 

Hebe is another revolution, the date of which wo 
cannot indicate, but which certainly modified the con- 
stitution of the family and of society itself. The ancient 
family comprised, under the authority of a single chief, 
two classes of unequal rank ; on the one side were the 
younger branches — that is to say, individuals natuj-ally 
free ; on the other, the servants or clients, inferior by 
birth, but connected with the chief by their participa 


tiou in the domestic worship. We have just seen one 
of these classes emerge from its inferior condition ; the 
second also aspired at an early date to become free. It 
succeeded in the course of time; clientship became 
modified, and finally disappeared. 

This was an immense change, which the ancient 
writers have given us no account of. In the same way, 
in the middle ages, the chroniclers do not tell us how 
the rural population were transformed by degi-ees. 
There has been in the existence of human societies a 
great number of revolutions no trace of which has been 
handed down to us in any document. Writers have 
not noticed them, because they were accomplished 
slowly, in an insensible manner, without any apparent 
struggle ; profound and silent revolutions, which moved 
the foundations of human societj', without anything ap- 
pearing on the surface, and which remained concealed 
even from the generations that took part in them. 
History can seize them only a long time after they have 
taken place, when, in comparing two epochs in the life 
of a people, it sees differences between them, which 
show that a great revolution has been aeomplished. 

If we credit the picture which writers have traced" 
of the primitive clientship of Rome, that must have been 
truly a golden age. Who could be more humane than 
this patron, who defended his client before the courts, 
who sustained him with his money if he was poor, and 
who provided for the education of his children ? What 
could be more touching than to see this client sustain 
the patron when he had fallen into debt, paying his 
debts, giving all he had to procure his ransom ? But 
there was not so much sentiment among the ancients. 
Disinterested affection and devotion were never institu- 
tions. We must have another idea of client and patron. 


What we know with the gi'eatest certainty concern- 
ing the client is, that he coukl not leave one patron and 
choose another, and that he was bound, from father to 
son, to the same family. If we knew only this, it would 
be sufficient to convince us that his condition could not 
be a very desirable one. Let us add that the client was 
not a proprietor of the soil ; the laud belonged to the 
patron, who, as chief of a domestic worship, and also as 
a member of a city, was the only one qualified to be a 
proprietor. If the client cultivated the soil, it was in 
the name and for the profit of the master. He was not 
even the owner of personal property, of his money, of 
his peculium. As a proof of this, the patron could take 
from him all these things to pay his own debts or his 
ransom. Thus nothing belonged to the client. True, 
the patron owed him and his children a living; but, in 
turn, his labor was due to the patron. We cannot say 
that he was precisely a slave ; but he had a master, to 
whom he belonged, and to whose will he was in all 
things subject. During his whole life he was a client, 
and his sons after him were clients. 

There is some analogy between the client of ancient 
times and the serf of the middle ages. The principle 
which condemned them to obedience was not the same, 
it is true. For the sert^ this principle was the right of 
property, which was exercised at the same time over 
the soil and over man ; for the client, this principle 
was the domestic religion, which he was bound 
under the authority of the patron, who was its priest. 
Otherwise the subordination of the client and of the 
serf was the same; the one was bound to his patron as 
the other was bound to his lord; the client could no 
more quit the gens than the serf could quit the glebe. 
The client, like the serf, remained subject to a master. 


from father to son. A passage in Livy leads us to sup 
pose that he was forbidden to marry outside the gens, 
as the serf was forbidden to marry outside the village. 
It is certain that he could not contract marriage without 
the permission of his patron. The patron could take 
]"ossesBion of the soil which the client cultivated, and 
the money which he possessed, as the lord could do in 
the case of the serf. If the client di«d, all that he had 
been in possession of returned of right to the patron, 
just as the succession of the serf belonged to the lord. 

The patron was not only a master; he was a judge; 
he could condemn a client to death. He was, more- 
over, a religious chief. The client bent under this au- 
thority, at the same time material and moral, which 
held both body and soul. His religion, it is true, im- 
posed duties up<in the patron, but they were duties of 
which he aloni' was the judge, and for which there was 
no sanction. The client saw nothing that protected 
him : he was not of himself a citizen , if he wished to 
appear before the tribunal of the city, his patron might 
conduct liim there, and speak for him. Did he ask the 
protection of the laws? He did not know the sacred 
formulas ; and if he knew them, the first law for him 
was never to testify or to speak against his patron. 
Without the patron there was no justice; against the 
patron iliere was no recourse. 

The client did not exist at Rome only; he was found 
among the Sabines and the Etruscans, making a part 
of the mamca of every chief. He existed in the ancient 
Hellenic gens as well as in that of Italy. We must not 
look for hira in the Dorian cities, it is true, where the 
rule of the gens disappeared at an early date, and where 
the conquered peoples were bound, not to a master, 
but ■ to a lot of land. We find a similar class at 


Athens, and in the Ionian and ^olian dties, under the 
name of Thetes, or Pelatoe. 

So long !is the aristocratic government lasted, these 
Thetes did not make a part of the city. Shut up in 
families, which they could not leave, they were in the 
power of the Eupntrids, who had the same character 
and the same authority as the Roman patrons. 

We can easily believe that at an early date there 
was hatred between the patron and the client. It is 
not difficult to picture to one's self the kind of life that 
was passed in that family where one had the authority 
and the other had no rights ; where obedience, without 
reserve and without hope, was placed by the side of 
unrestrained power; where the best master had his 
angry moods and his caprices ; where the most resigned 
servant had liis rancor, his complaints, and his hatred. 
Ulysses was a good master; see what a paternal affec- 
tion he has for Eumasus and Philaatius. But he orders 
to be put to death a servant who has insulted him 
without knowing him, and others who have fallen into 
the bad ways to which his absence has exposed them. 
He is responsible to the city for the death of his de- 
pendants ; but for the death of his servants no one asks 
any reason. 

In the state of isolation in which the family had long 
lived, clientship sprang up and maintained itself. The 
domestic religion was then all-powerful over the soul. 
The man who was its priest by hereditary right ap- 
2>eared to the inferior classes as a sacred being. More 
than man, he was an intercessor between man and God. 
From his mouth went forth the powerful prayer, the 
irresistible formula, which brought down the favor or 
the anger of the divinity. Before such a power he felt 
compelled to bow ; obedience was commanded both by 


faith and by religion ; and, besides, what temptation 
could the client have to free himself? He saw no 
horizon beyond this family, to which everything be- 
longed. In it alone he found life calm and subsistence 
assured ; in it alone, although he had a master, he 
had also a protector; in it alone, in fine, he found an 
altar which he could approach, and gods whom he was 
permitted to invoke. To quit this family was to place 
himself outside all social organization and all law ; it 
was to lose his gods and to renounce the right of 

But when the city had been founded, the clients of 
the different families could see each other, could confer 
together, could make an interchange of their desires 
and griefs, compare their masters, and obtain a glimpse 
of a better fate. Then their view began to extend be- 
yond the limits of the family. They saw that beyond 
their circle there existed society, rules, laws, altars, 
temples, and gods. To quit the family was no longer, 
therefore, for them, an evil without a remedy. The 
temptation became every day strongei'; clientsliip 
seemed to them a burden every day heavier, and they 
ceased to believe that the master's authority was legit- 
imate and sacred. Then sprang up in the hearts of 
these men an ardent desire to be free. True, we do not 
find in the history of any city mention made of a gen- 
eral insurrection among this class. If there were 
armed struggles, they were shut up and concealed 
within the circle of each family. For more than one 
generation there were on one side energetic efforts for 
independence, and implacable repression on the other. 
There took place in each house a long and dramatic 
series of events which it is impossible to-day to retrace. 
All that we can say is, that the efforts of the lower 


classes were not without results. An invincible neces- 
sity obliged the masters, little by little, to relinquish 
some of their omnipotence. When authority ceases to 
appear just to the subjects, time must still elapse be- 
fore it will cease to appear so to the masters. But this 
happens after awhile, and then the master, who no 
longer believes in the justice of his authority, defends 
it badly, or ends by renouncing it. Besides, this in- 
ferior class was useful; by cultivating the earth, it 
accumulated the riches of the master, and by carrying 
arms, it constituted his strength in the midst of family 
rivalries. It was therefore wise to satisfy these men, 
and interest united with humanity to recommend con- 

It apjjears certain that the condition of clients im- 
proved by degrees. At first they lived in the master's 
house, cultivating the common domain together. Later 
a separate lot of land was assigned to each. Tlie cli- 
ent must already have found himself happier. He still 
worked for his master's profit, it is true ; the field was 
not his; he rather belonged to that. Still he cultivat- 
ed it for a long succession of years, and he loved it. 
There grew up between it and him, not that bond 
which the religion of property had created between it 
and the master, but another bond — that which labor 
and sufiering even can form between the man who gives 
his care, and the earth ^hich gives its fruits. 

Later came new progress. He no longer worked for 
the master, but for himself. On condition of an an- 
nual rent, which at first was perhaps variable, but which 
afterwards became fixed, he had the benefit of the har- 
vest. He thus found some recompense for his labor, 
and his life was at the same time freer and more inde- 
pendent. "The chiefs of families," says one of the 


ancients, " assigned portions of land to their inferiors, 
as if they had been their own children." ' So, too, we 
read in the Odyssey, " A kind master gives his servant 
a house and a field;" and Eumseus adds, a "desired 
wife," because the client could not yet marry without 
the consent of the master, and it was this master who 
chose his companion for him. 

But this field, where, thenceforward, his life was 
passed, where he found all his labor and all his enjoy- 
ment, was not yet his property. For this client did not 
])0ssess that sacred character which enabled him to 
hold property. The lot that he occupied continued to 
be bounded by the sacred landmarks. — the god Termi- 
nus, whom the family of the master had formerly 
placed there. These inviolable bounds attested that 
the fijeld, attached to the family of the master by a 
sacred tie, could never become the absolute property 
of a freed client. In Italy the field, and the house 
which the villicus — the client of the patron — occu- 
pied, contained a sacred fire, a Lar familiaris ; but this 
fire did not belong to the cultivator; it was the mas- 
ter's fire.* This established at the same time the right 
of property in the patron, and the religious subordina- 
tion of the client, who, so long as he belonged to the 
patron, still followed the patron's worship. 

The client, as soon ' as he came into possession of 
property, suffered from not being the proprietor, and 
aspired to become such. It became his ambition to 
remove from this field — which seemed to be his by the 
right of labor — those sacred bounds which made it 
forever the property of the former master. 

' Festus, V. Patres. 

* Cato, Be Re Rust., 143. Columella, XI. 1, 19. 


We see clearly that in Greece the clients attained 
iheir object ; but we do not know by what means. 
How much time and how many efforts were required 
for this we can only guess. Possibly the same series 
of social changes took place in antiquity which Europe 
saw in the middle ages, when the slaves in the coun- 
try became serfs of the glebe, when the latter, from 
serfs, taxable at will, were changed 'to serfs with a fixed 
rent, and when finally they were transformed, in the 
course of time, into peasant proprietors. 

2. Clientship disappears at Athens. The Work of 

This sort of a revolution is clearly marked in the 
history of Athens. The effect of -the overthrow of 
royalty had been to revive the regime of the yifog, 
families had returned to their isolated condition, and 
each had begun to form a little state, with a Eu- 
patrid for a chief, and a multitude of clients for sub- 
jects. This government appears to have weighed 
heavily upon the Athenian population, for they retained 
an unfavorable recollection of it. The people thought 
themselves so unhappy that the preceding period ap- 
peared to have been a sort of golden age. They re- 
gretted their kings, and began to imagine that under 
the monarchy they had been happy and free ; that they 
had then enjoyed equality, and that it was only since 
the fall of the kings that inequality and suffering had 
commenced. This was such an illusion as men often 
entertain. Popular tradition placed the commence- 
ment of the inequality at the time when the people 
began to find it odious. This clientship, this sort of 
slavery, which was as old as the constiitution of the 


family, they dated from the time when men had iirst 
felt its weight and understood its injustice. It is very 
certain, however, that it was not in the seventh cen- 
tury that the Eupatrids established the hard laws of 
clientship. They did no more than to preserve them. 
In this alone was their injustice; they maintained these 
laws beyond the time when men accepted them with- 
out complaint, and maintained them against the will 
of the people. The Eupatrids of this epoch were per- 
haps easier masters than their ancestors had been; and 
yet they were more heartily detested. 

It appears that even under the rule of this aristocracy 
the condition of the lower class was improved; for cer- 
tainly at that time it obtained possession of lots of land 
on the single condition of paying a rent, which was fixed 
at one sixth of the harvest. These mep were thus 
almost emancipated ; having a home and living no 
longer under the master's eye, they breathed more 
freely and labored for their own profit. 

But such is human nature that these men. as their 
condition improved, felt more keenly the in'squality 
that remained. Not to be a citizen, and to have no 
part in the administration of the city, doubtless touched 
them somewhat; but not to be capable of owning the 
soil upon which they were born and died, affected 
them much more. What rendered their condition sup- 
portable, let us add, lacked stability. For though they 
were really in possession of the soil, no formal law as- 
sured them either this possession or the independence 
that flowed from it. We see in Plutarch that the former 
patron could renew his claim upon his former servant. 
If the annual rent was not paid, or for any other cause, 
these men relapsed into a sort of slavery. 

Grave questions were agitated in Attica, therefore, 


during a series of four or five generations. It was 
hardly possible that men of the lower class could re- 
main in this unstable and anomalous position towards 
which an insensible progress had conducted them. One 
of two things was sure to follow : either, losing this 
position, they must relapse into the bonds of an oner- 
ous clientship, or, completely freed by a still farther 
progress, they must rise to the rank of landed proprie- 
tors and free men. 

We can imagine all the efforts on the part of the la- 
borer, the former client, and all the resistance on the 
part of the proprietor, the former patron. It was not 
a civil war. The Athenian annals have not preserved 
the record of a single combat. It was a domestic war 
in each hamlet, in each house, from father to son. 

These struggles appear to have had various fortunes, 
according to the nature of the soil in different cantons 
in Attica. In the plain where the Eupatrid had his 
principal domain, anywhere he was always present, his 
authority over the little group of servants who were 
always under his eye remained almost intact; the 
Pedieis — or men of the plain — therefore, generally 
showed themselves faithful to the old regime. But the 
Diacrii, — those who cultivated the sides of the moun- 
tain with severe toil, — being farther from the master, 
more habituated to an independent life, more hardy and 
more courageous, laid up in their hearts a violent ha- 
tred for the Eupatrid, and a firm resolve to be free. 
These especially were the men who were indignant to 
see about the fields the "sacred bounds" of the mas- 
ter, and to feel that " their soil was enslaved." ' As to 
the inhabitants of the cantons near the sea, — the 

' Solon, Ed. Bach, pp. 104, 105. 


Paralii, — the ownershii^ of tbe soil tempted them less; 
they had the sea before them, and commerce, and trade. 
Several had become rich, and with riches they were 
nearly free. They therefore did not share the ardent 
desire of the Diacrii, and did not feel any vigorous 
hatred of the Eupatrids. They had not, however, the 
base resignation of the Pedieis; they demanded more 
stability in their condition, and better assured rights. 

Solon satisfied these wishes so far as was jjossible. 
There is a part of the work of this legislator which the 
ancients have very imperfectly explained to us, but 
wliich ajjpears to have been the principal part of it. 
Before his time, the greater part of the inhabitants of 
Attica still held but a precaiious possession of the soil, 
and might be reduced to personal servitude. After 
him this class was no longer found ; the right of prop- 
erty was accessible to all ; there was no longer any 
slavery for the Athenian; the families of the lower 
classes were forever freed from the authority of the 
Eupatrid families. Here was a great change, whose 
author could be no other than Solon. 

According to Plutarch's account, it is true, Solon did 
no more than to soften the rigor of the law of debt 
by abolishing the right of the creditor to enslave the 
debtor. But we should carefully examine what a 
writer so long after this period says of those debts that 
troubled the Athenian city, as well as all the cities of 
Greece and Italy. It is difficult to believe that before 
Solon there was so great a circulation of money that 
there were many boiTowers and lenders. We are not 
to judge those times by the period that followed. 
There was at that time very little commerce; bills of 
exchange were unknown, and credits must have been 
very rare. On what security could a man borrow who 


owned nothing ? Men are not much accustomed, in any 
Bociety, to lend to the poor. The assertion is made, it 
is true, on the faith of the translator of Plutarch rather 
than on Plutarch himself, that the borrower mortgaged 
his land ; but, supposing this land was his property, he 
could not haye mortgaged it, for mortgages were not 
then known, and were contrary to the nature of pro- 
prietary .right. In those debtors of whom Plutarch 
speaks we must see the former clients; in their debts, 
the annual rent which they were to pay to their fornier 
masters; and in the slavery into which they fell if they 
failed to pay, the former clieotship, to which they were 
again ireduoed. 

Perhaps Solon suppressed the rent ; or, more proba- 
bly, reduced the amount of it, so that the payment 
became easy. He added the provision, that in future 
the failure to pay should not reduce the laborer to 

He did more. Before him these former clients, when 
they came into possession of the soil, could not become 
the owners of it; for upon their fields the sacred and 
inviolable bounds of the former patron still stood. For 
the enfranchisement of the soil and of the cultivator, 
it was necessary that these bounds should disappear. 
Solon abolished them. We find the evidence of this 
great reform in some verses of Solon himself: "It was 
an unhoped-for work," said he ; "I have accomplished 
it with the aid of the gods. I call to witness the god- 
dess Mother, the black earth, whose landmarks I have 
in many places torn up, the earth, which was enshned, 
and is now free." In doing this, Solon had accomplished 
a considerable revolution. He had put aside the an- 
cient religion of property, which, in the name of the 
immovable god Te«'minus, retained the land in a small 


number of hands. He had wrested the earth from re- 
ligion to give it to labor. He had suppressed, with the 
Eupatrid's authority over the soil, his authority over 
man, and he could say in his verses, "Those who in 
this land suffered cruel servitude and trembled befoi-e 
a master, I have made free." It is probable that this 
enfranchisement is what the contemporaries of Solon 
called oEiaaydsltt (shaking off the burdens). Later gen- 
erations, who, once habituated to liberty, would not, 
or could not, believe that their forefathers had been 
serfs, explained this word as if it merely marked an 
abolition of debts. But there is an energy in it which 
i-eveals a greater revolution. Let us add here this sen- 
tence of Aristotle, which, without entering into an 
account of Solon's labors, simply says, " He j)ut an end 
to the slavery of the people." ' 

3. Transformation of GUentsJiip at Home. 

This war between clients and patrons also filled a 
long period of Rome's history. Livy, indeed, says 
nothing of it, because he is not accustomed closely to 
observe the changes in institutions; besides, the annals 
of the pontiffs, and similar documents, from which the 
ancient historians whom Livy consulted had drawn, 
could have contained no account of these domestic 

One thing, at least, is certain. There were clients 
in the very beginning of Rome; there has even come 
down to us very precise evidence of the dependence in 
which their patrons held them. If, several centuiies 
afterwards, we look for these clients, we no longer find 

' Aristotle, Oov. of Ath., Fragm., coll. Didot, t. II, p. 107. 


them. The name still exists, but not clientship. For 
there is nothing move distinct from the clients of the 
primitive period than these plebeians of Cicero's time, 
who called themselves the clients of some rich man in 
order to have the right to the sportula. 

There were those who more nearly resembled the 
ancient clients; these were the freedmen.' No more 
did one freed from servitude at once become a free 
man and a citizen at the end of the republic, than in the 
first ages of Rome. He remained subject to a master. 
Formerly they called him a client, now they call him a 
freedman ; the name only is changed. As to the master, 
his name does not even change; formerly they called 
him patron, and they still call him by the same name. 
The freedman, like the client of earlier days, remains 
attached to the family; he takes its name, like the an- 
cient client. He depends upon the patron ; he owes 
him not only gratitude, but a veritable service, whose 
measure the master himself fixes. The patron has the 
jight to judge the freedman, as he had to judge the 
client; he can remit to slavery for the crime of in- 
gratitude.' The freedman, therefore, recalls the ancient 
client. Between them there is but one difference : 
clientship formerly passed from father to son ; now the 
condition of freedman ceases in the second, or, at far- 
thest, in the third generation. Clientship, then, has not 
disappeared ; it still seizes a man at the moment when 

' The freedman became a client. The identity of these two 
terms is marlsed in a passage of Dionysius, IV. 23. 

" Digest, XXV. tit. 2,5; L. tit. 16, 195. Valerius Maximus, 
V. 1, 4. Suetonius, Claudius, 25. Dion Cassius, LV. The 
legislation was the same at Athens ; see Lysias and HyperiJes in 
Harpocration, v. 'Anoataatov, Demosthenes in Aristogitonem, 
and Suidas, v. 'Avayxaiov. 


servitude gives him up; only it is no longer hereditary. 
This alone is a considerable change ; but we are unable 
to state when it took place. 

We can easily discover the successive improvements 
that were made in the condition of the client, and by 
what degrees he arrived at the right to hold property. 
At first the chief of the gens assigned him a lot of land 
to cultivate; ' ho soon became the temporary possessor 
of this lot, on condition that he contributed to all the 
expenses of his former master. The severe conditions 
of the old law, M'hich obliged him to pay his patron's 
ransom, the dowry of his daughter, or his legal fines, 
clearly prove that when this law was written he was 
already the temporary possessor of the soil. The client 
made one farther step of progress ; he obtained the 
right of transmitting, at his death, this lot to his son ; 
in default of a son, the land returned, it is true, to the 
patron. But now comes new progress: the client who 
leaves no son obtains the right of making a will. Here 
custom hesitates and varies; sometimes the patron 
takes half the property, sometimes the will of the tes- 
tator is fully respected ; in any case his will is never 
invalid.' Thus the client, if he cannot yet call himself 
a proprietor, has, at least, as extended an enjoyment of 
property as is possible. 

True, this was not complete enfranchisement. But 
no document enables us to fix the epoch when the 
clients were definitively detached from the patrician 
families. There is a passage of Livy (II. 16) which, 
if we take it literally, shows that from the first years 
of the republic the clients were citizens. There is a 

• Festus, T. Patres. 

" Institutes of Justinian, III. 7. 


strong probability that they were alfeady citizens in the 
time of king Servius; perhaps they even voted in the 
comitia curiata from the foundation of Rome. But we 
cannot conclude from this that they were then entirely 
enfranchisedj since it is possible that the patricians 
found it for their interest to give their clients political 
rights without consenting on that account to give them 
civil rights. 

It does not appear that the revolution which freed 
the clients at Rome was accomplished at once, as at 
Athens. It took place veiy slowly and imperceptibly, 
without ever having been consecrated by any formal 
laws. The bonds of clientship were relaxed little by 
little, and the client was removed insensibly from the 

King Servius introduced a great reform to the ad- 
vantage of the clients ; he changed the organization of 
the army. Before his reign the army was divided into 
tribes, curies, and gentes; this was the patrician division; 
every chief of the gens was at-the head of his clients. 

Servius divided the army into centuries; each had 
his rank according to his wealth. By this arrangement 
the client no longer marched by the side of his patron; 
he no longer recognized him as a chief in battle ; and 
he became accustomed to independence. 

This change produced another in the constitution of 
the comitia. Formerly the assembly was divided into 
curies and gentes, and the client, if he voted at all, voted 
under the eye of the master. But the division by cen- 
turies being established for the comitia as well as for 
the army, the client no longer found himself in the same 
division as the patron. The old law, it is true, com- 
manded him to vote the same as his patron Voted, but 
how could his vote be known ? 


It was a great step to separate the client from the 
patron in the most solemn moments of life, at the mo- 
ment of combat, and at the moment of voting. The 
authority of the patron was greatly diminished, and 
what remained to him was more hotly contested daily. 
As soon as the client had tasted of independence, he 
wished for the complete enjoyment of it. He aspired 
to separate fiom the gens and to join the plebs, wliere 
he might be free. How many occasions presented 
themselves ! Under the kings, he was sure of being 
aided by them, for they asked nothing better than to 
enfeeble the gentes. Under the republic, he found the 
protection of the plebs themselves, and of the tribunes. 
Many clients were thus freed, and the gens could not 
recover them. In 472 B. C, the number of clients 
was still considerable, since the plebs complained that 
bj' their votes in the comitia centuriata, they caused 
the balance to incline in favor of the patricians." About 
the same time, the plebs having refused to enroll, the 
patricians were able to form an army with their clients.' 
It appears, however, that these clients were no longer 
numerous enough alone to cultivate the lands of the 
patricians, and that the latter were obliged to borrow 
the labor of the plebs.' It is probable that the crea- 
tion of the tribuneship, by protecting the escaped cli- 
ents against their former patrons, and by rendering the 
condition of the plebs more enviable and more secure, 
hastened this gradual movement towards enfranchise- 
ment. In the year 372 there were no longer any 
clients, and Manlius could say to the plebs, " As many 
clients as you have been about a single patron, so many 

Livy, 11. 66. » Dionysius, VII. 19 ; X. 27. 

' Inculti per secessionem plebis agri. Livy, II. 34. 


now shall you be against a single enemy.' Thence- 
forth we no longer see in the history of Rome these 
ancient clients, these men hereditarily attached to the 
gens. Primitive clientship gave place to a clientship 
of a new kind, a voluntary, almost fictitious bond, which 
no longer imposed the same obligations. We no longer 
see in Rome the three classes, patricians, clients, and 
plebeians. Only two remain; the clients are con- 
founded with the plebs. 

The Marcelli appear to be a branch thus detached 
from the Claudian gens. They were Claudii; but as 
they were not patricians, they belonged to the gens 
only as clients. Free at an early period, and enriched, 
by what means we know not, they were first raised to 
plebeian dignities, and later to those of the city. For 
several centuries the Claudian gens seems to have for- 
gotten its rights over them. One day, however, in 
Cicero's time," it recalled them lo mind very unex- 
pectedly. A freedman or client of the Marcelli died, 
leaving property, which, according to law, would revert 
to the patron. The patrician Claudii claimed that the 
Marcelli, being clients, could not themselves have c i- 
eiits, and that their freed men and their property should 
belong to the chief of the patrician gens, who alone was 
capable of exercising the rights of a patron. This suit 
very much astonished the public, and embarrassed the 
lawyers : Cicero himself thought the question very ob- 
scure. But it would not have been so four centuries 
earlier, and the Claudii would have gained their cause. 
But in Cicero's time the laws upon which they founded 
their claim were so old that they had been forgotten, 
and the court easily decided the case in favor of the 
Marcelli. The ancient clientship no longer existed. 

' Llvy, VI. la. ' Cicero, De Oraiore, I. .<5P- 



Third Revolution. The Plebs enter the City. 
1. General Sistory of this Resolution. 

The changes which, in the course of time, had taken 
place in the constitution of the family, brought with 
them ethers in the constitution of the city. The old 
aristocratic and sacerdotal family became weakened. 
The right of primogeniture having disappeared, this 
family lost its unity and vigor; the clients having 
been for the most part freed, it lost the greater part 
of its subjc'ctSv 

The people of the lower orders wel'e no longer dis- 
tributed among the gentes, but lived apart, and formed 
a body by themselves. Thus the city assumed quite 
another aspect. Instead of being, as at an earlier date, 
a fully united assemblage of as many little states as 
there were families, a union was formed on the one 
side among the patrician members of the gentes, and 
on the other side between men of the lower orders. 
There were thus two great bodies, two hostile socie- 
ties, placed face to face. It was no longer, as in a pre- 
ceding period, an obscure sti'U^le in each family ; there 
was open war in each city. One of these classes wished 
to maintain the religious constitution of the city, and 
to continue the government and the priesthood in the 
Jiands of the sacred families. The other wished to 
break down the barriers that placed it beyond the pale 
of the law, of religion, and of politics. 


In the beginning of the struggle, the advantage was 
with the aristocracy of birth. It had not, indeed, its 
former subjects, and its material strength had disap- 
peared; but there remained its religious prestige, its 
regular organization, its habit of command, its tradi- 
tions, and its hereditary pride- It never doubted the 
justice of its cause, and believed that in defending 
itself it was defending religion. The people, on the 
other hand, had nothing but numbei-s on their side. 
They were held back by a habit of respect, of which 
they could not easily free themselves. Then, too, they 
had no leaders, and every principle of organizatioa 
was wanting. There were, in the beginning, a multi- 
tude without any bond of union, rather than a vigor- 
ous and well-constituted body. If we bear in mind 
that men had not yet discovered any other principle 
of association than the hereditary religion of the fam- 
ily, and that they had no idea of any authority that 
was not derived from a worshipj we shall easily under- 
stand that the plebs, who had been excluded from all 
the rites of religion, could not at first form a regular 
society, and that much time was required for them to 
discover the elements of discipline and the rales of a 
i-egalar governmetit. This inferior class, in its weak- 
ness, saw at first no other means of combating the 
aristocracy than by meeting it with monarchy. 

In the cities where the popular class had been al- 
ready consolidated in the time of the ancient kings, it 
sustained them with all its strength, and encouraged' 
them to increase their power. At Rome it demanded 
the restoration of monarchy after Romulus, and caused 
Hostilius to be nominated; it made Tarquinius Priscus 
king ; it loved Servius, and regretted Tarquinius Su- 
perbus. When the kings had been everywhere over- 


thrown, and the aristocracy had become supreme, the 
people did not content themselves with regretting the 
monarchy; they aspired to restore it under a new 
form. In Greece, during the sixth century, they suc- 
ceeded generally in procuring leaders ; not wishing lo 
call them kings, because this title implied the idea of 
religious functions, and could only be borne by the 
sacerdotal families, they called them tyrants.' 

Whatever might have been the original sense of this 
word, it certainly was not borrowed from the language 
of religion. Men could not apply it to the gods, as 
they applied the word king ; they did not pronounce 
it in their prayers. It designated, in fact, something 
quite new among men — an authority that was not de- 
rived from the worship, a power that religion had not 
established. The appearance of this word in the Greek 
language marks a principle which the preceding gener- 
' ations had not known — the obedience of man to man. 
Up to that time tliere had been no other chiefs of the 
state than those who had beeu chiefs of religion ; those 
only governed the city who offered the sacrifices and 
invoked the gods for it. In obeying them, men obeyed 
only the religious law, and made no act of submission 
except to the divinity. Obedience to a man, authority 
given to this man by other men, a power human in its 
origin and nature — this had been unknown to the an- 
cient Eupatrids, and was never thought of till the day 
when the inferior orders threw off the yoke of the aris- 
tocracy and attempted a new government. 

Let us cite a few examples. At Corinth, " the peo- 

' The name of king was sometimes given to these popular 
chiefs when they were descended from religious families. He- 
rodotus, V. 92. 


pie supported the government of the Bacchiadss very 
unwillingly; Cypsel us, understanding this hatred, and 
seeing that the people sought a chief to conduct them 
to freedom," offered himself to become their chief. 
The people accepted him, set him up as their tyrant, 
drove out the Bacehiadse, and obeyed Gypselus. Mi- 
letus had as a tyrant a certain Thrasybulus; Mitylene 
obeyed Pittacus, and Samos Polycrates. We find 
tyrants at Argos, at Epidaurus, and at Megara in the 
sixth century ; Sicyon had tyrants during a hundred 
and thirty years, without interruption. Among the 
Greeks of Italy we see tyrants at Cumaa, at Crotona, 
at Sybaris — indeed everywhere. At Syracuse, in4S5, 
the lower orders made themselves masters of the city, 
and banished the aristocratic class; but they could 
neither maintain nor govern themselves, and at the 
end of a year they had to set up a tyrant.' 

Everywhere these tyrants, with more or less violence, 
had the same policy. A tyrant of Corinth one day 
asked advice concerning government of a tyrant of 
Miletus. The latter, in reply, struck off the heads of 
grain that were higher than the others. Thus their 
rule of conduct was to cut down the high heads, and 
to strike at the aristocracy, while depending upon the 

The Roman plebs at first formed conspiracies to 
restore Tarquin. They afterwards tried to set up ty- 
rants, and cast their eyes by turns upon Publicola, 
Spurius Cassias, and Manlius. The accusation which 
the patricians so often addressed to those of their own 
order who became popular, cannot have been pure 

' Nicholas of Damascus, Fragm. Aristotle, Pol., V. 9. 
Thucydides, I. 126. Diodorus, IV. 6. 


calumny. The fear of the great attests the desire of 
the plebs. 

But we ought to remark that, if the people in Greece 
and Rome sought to restore monarchy, it was not from 
real attachment to this sort of government. They 
loved tyrants less than they detested aristocracy. For 
them the monarchy was a lueans of conquering and 
avenging themselves; but this government, which was 
the result of force alone, and never rested upon any 
sacred tradition, took no root in the hearts of the peo- 
ple. They set ap a tyrant for the needs of the strug- 
gle ; they left him the power afterwards from gi-atitude 
or from necessity. But when a few years had elapsed, 
and the recollection of the hard oligarchy had been 
efikced, they let the tyrant fall. This government never 
had the affection of the Greeks ; they accepted it only 
as a temporary resource, while the popular party should 
find a better one and should feel strong enough to gov- 
ern itself. 

The inferior class increased by degrees. Progress 
sometimes works obscurely, yet decides the future of a 
class, and transforms society. About the sixth century 
before our era, Greece and Italy saw a new source of 
riches appear. The earth no longer sufficed for all the 
wants of man ; tastes turned towards beauty and luxu- 
ry ; the arts sprang up, and then industry and commerce 
became necessary. Personal property was created by 
degrees; coins were struck, and money appeared. 
Now, the appearance of money was a great revolution. 
Money was not subject to the same conditions as land- 
ed property. It was, according to the expression of 
the lawyers, res nee mancipi, and could pass from 
hand to hand without any religious formality, and 
without difficulty could reach the plebeians. Religion, 


which had given its stamp to the soil, had no powei 
over money. 

Men of the lower orders now learned other occupa- 
tions besides that of cultivating the earth,; there were 
artisans, sailors, manufacturers, and merchants; and 
soon there were rich men among them. Here was a 
a singular novelty. Previously, the chiefs of the genfces 
alone could be proprietors, and here were former cli- 
ents and plebeians who were rich and who displayed 
.theij" wealth. Then, too, the luxury which enriched 
the plebeian impoverished the noble. In many cities, 
especially at Athens, were a part of the aristocratic 
body seen to become miserably poor. Now, in a soci- 
ety where wealth is changing hands, raijk is in danger 
of being overthrown. Another consequence of this 
change was, that among the people themselves, distinc- 
tions of rank arose, as must happen in every human 
society. Some families were prominent; some names 
increased in importance. A sort of aristocracy was 
formed among the people. This was not an evil; the 
people ceased to be a confused mass, and began to re- 
semble a well-eonstituted body. Having rank among 
themselves, they could select leaders without any long- 
er having to take from the patricians the first ambi- 
tious man who wished to reign. This plebeian aristoc- 
racy soon had the qualities which ordinarily accompany 
wealth acquired by labor ^ that is to say, the feeling 
of personal worth, the love of tranquil liberty, and that 
spirit of wisdom which, though desiring improve- 
ments, fears risking too much. The plebs followed 
the lead of this new ai-istocracy, which they were proud 
of possessing. They renounced tyrants as soon as they 
felt that they possessed among themselves the ele- 
ments of a better government. Jndeeil, riches became, 


for some time, as we shall see by and by, a principle 
of social organization. 

There is one other change of which we must speak, 
for it greatly aided the lower class to rise — the change 
that took place in the military art. In the first ages 
of the history of cities, the strength of armies was in 
their cavalry. The real warrior was the one who 
fought from a horse or from a chariot. The foot- 
soldier, of little service in combat, was slightly es- 
teemed. The ancient aristocracy, therefore, every- 
where reserved to themselves the right to fight on 
horseback.' In some cities the nobles even gave tbem- 
Belves the title of knights. The celeres of Romulus, 
the Roman knights of the earlier ages, were all patri- 
cians. Among the ancients the cavalry was always 
the noble arm. But by degrees infantry became more 
important. Improvement in the manufacture of arms, 
and in discipline, enabled it to resist cavalry. When 
this point was reached, infantry took the first rank in 
battle, for it was more manageable, and its manoeuvres 
easier. The legionaries and the hoplites thenceforth 
formed the main strength of armies. Now the legion- 
aries and the hoplites were plebeians. Add to this 
that maritime operations became more, extended, es- 
pecially in Greece, that there were naval battles, and 
that the destiny of a city was often in the hands of 
the rowers — that is to say, of the plebeians. Now, a 
class that is strong enough to defend a people is strong 
enough to defend its rights, and to exercise a legiti- 
mate influence. The social and political state of a 
nation always bears a certain relation to the nature and 
composition of its armies. 

' Aristotle, Politics, VI. 3, 2. 


Finally, the inferior class succeeded in having a re- 
ligion of its own. These men had in their hearts, we 
may suppose, that religious sentiment which is insepa- 
rable from our nature, and which renders adoration 
and prayer necessary to us. They suffered, therefore, 
to find themselves shut out from all religion by the 
ancient principle which prescribed that every god 
belonged to a family, and that the right of prayer was 
transmitted with the blood. They strove, therefore, 
to have a worship of their own. 

It is impossible to enter here into the details of the 
efforts that they made, of the means which they in- 
vented, of the difficulties or the resources that occurred 
to them. This work, for a long time a- separate study 
for each individual, was long the secret of each mind; 
we can see only the results. Sometimes a plebeian 
family set up a hearth of its own, whether it dared to 
jight the fire itself or procured the sacred fire else- 
where. Then it had its worship, its sanctuary, its pro- 
tecting divinity, and its priesthood, in imitation of the 
patrician family. Sometimes the plebeian, without hav- 
ing any domestic worship, had recourse to the temples 
of the city. At Rome those who had no sacred fire, and 
consequently no domestic festival, offered their annual 
sacrifices to the god Quirinns.' When the upper class 
persisted in driving the lower orders from the temples, 
the latter built temples of their own. At Rome they had 
one on the Aventine, which was sacred to Diana; they 
also had the temple of Plebeian Modesty. The Oriental 
worships, which began in the sixth century to overrun 
Greece and Italy, were eagerly received by the plebs ; 
these were foniis of "worship which, like Buddhism, 

' Varro, L. L., VI. 13. 


excluded no caste, or people. Often, too, the plebeians 
would make themselves gods, like those of the patrician 
curies and tribes. Thus king Servius erected an altai- 
in every quarter of the city, so that the multitude might 
have places to sacrifice ; just as Peisistratus set up 
HermsB in the streets and squares of Athens." Those 
were the gods of the democracy. The plebeians, pre- 
viously a multitude without worship, thenceforth had 
religious ceremonies and festivals. They could pray ; 
this in a society where religion made the dignity of man 
was a great deal. 

When once the lower orders had gained these points ; 
when they had among themselves rich men, soldiers, 
and priests; when they had gained all that gave man a 
sense of his own worth and strength; when, in fine, they 
had compelled the aristocracy to consider them of some 
account, — it was impossible to keep them out of social 
and political life, and the city could be closed to them 
no longer. 

The entry of this inferior class into th§ city was a 
revolution, which, from the seventh to the fifth century, 
filled the Ijistory of Gi'eeoe and Italy. 

The efforts of the people were everywhere successful, 
but not everywhere in the same manner, or by the same 
means. In some cases the people, as soon as they felt 
themselves to be strong, rose, sword in hand, and forced 
the gates of the city where they had been forbidden to 
live. Once masters, they either drove out the nobles 
and occupied their houses, or contented themselves^ 
with proclaiming an equality of rights. This is what 
happened at Syracuse, at Erythrse, and at Miletus. 

In other cases, on the contraryj the people employed 

' Dionysius, IV. 6. FlatQ, ffipparchus. 


means less violent. Without an armed struggle, and 
merely by the moral force which their last step h,Hd 
given them, they constrained the great to make con- 
cessions. They then appointed a legislator, and the 
constitution was changed. This was the course of 
events at Athens. 

Sometimes the inferior class arrived by degrees, and 
without any shock, at its object. Thus, at Cumas, tlie 
number of members of the city, very few in the begin- 
ning, was increased at first by the admission of those 
of the people who were rich enough, to keep a horse, 
Later the number of citizens was raised to one thousand, 
and by degrees the city reached a dem<Acratic form of 

In a few cities, the admission of the plebs among 
the citizens was the work of the kings; this was the 
case at Rome. In others it was the work of popular 
tyrants, as at OoHnth, at Sicyon, and at Argos. When 
the aristocracy regained the supremacy, they generally 
had the good sense to leave to the lower orders the 
rights of citizens which the kings or tyrants had given 
them. At Saraos the aristocracy did not succeed in 
its struggle with the tyrants until it had freed the lower 
classes. It would occupy us too long to enumerate all 
the different forms under which this great revolution 
appeared. The result was everywhere the same ; the 
inferior class entered the city, and became a part of 
the body politic. 

The poet Theognis has given us a very clear idea of 
this revolution, and of its consequences. Ho tells us 
that in Megara, bis country, there were two sorts of 
men. He calls one the class of the good, h'/aQoi / this, 

• .HeraGleides of Pontus. Fragm., coll. Didot, t. 11, p. 217. 


indeed, is the name which they took in most of the 
Greek cities. The other he calls the class of the had, 
vMxol ; tliis, too, is the name by which it was custom- 
ary to designate the inferior class. The poet describes 
the ancient condition of this class: "Formerly it knew 
neither tribunals nor laws;" this is as much as to say 
that it had not the right of the citizenship. These men 
were not even permitted to approach the city ; " they 
lived without, like wild beasts." They took no part in 
the religious repasts ; they had not the right to maiTy 
into the families of the good. 

But how changed is all this ! Rank has been over- 
thrown ; " the bad have been placed above the good." 
Justice is disturbed ; thy ancient laws are no more, and 
laws of strange novelty have replaced them. Hiches 
have become the only object of men's desires, because 
wealth gives power. The man of noble race marries 
the daughter of the rich plebeian, and " marriage con- 
founds the races.'' 

Theognis, who belonged to an aristocratic family, 
vainly strove to resist the course of events. Con- 
demned to exile, and despoiled of his property, he could 
no longer protest and fight except in his verses. But 
if he no longer hoped for success, at least he never 
doubred the justice of his cause. He accepted defeat, 
but he slill preserved a sense of his rights. In his 
eyes, the revolution which had taken place was a moral 
evil, a crime. A son of the aristocracy, it seemed to 
him that this revolution had on its side neither justice 
nor the gods, and that it was an attempt against re- 
ligion. « The gods," he says, « have quitted the earth ; 
no one fears them. The race of pious men has dis- 
appeared ; no one now cares for the Immortals." 

But these regrets are useless, and he knows it well 


If he complains thus, it is as a sort of pious duty ; it is 
because he has received from the ancients " the holy 
tradition," and his duty is to perpetuate it. But he 
labors in vain ; the tradition itself will perish ; the sons 
of the nobles will forget their nobility ; soon all will be 
seen united by marriage to plebeian families; "they 
win drink at their festivals and eat at their tables " ; 
they will soon adopt their sentiments. In Theognis' 
time, regret was all that was left for the Greek aristoc- 
racy, and even this regret was soon to disappear. 

In fact, alter Theognis the nobility were nothing but 
a recollection. The great families continued piously 
to preserve the domestic worship and the memory of 
their ancestors, but this was all. There were still men 
who amused themselves by counting their ancestors; 
but such men were ridiculed. They preserved the cus- 
tom of inscribing upon some tombs that the deceased 
was of noble race, but no attempt was made to restore 
a system forever fallen. Isocrates said, with truth, that 
in his time the great families of Athens no longer ex- 
isted except in their tombs. 

Thus the ancient city was transformed by degrees. 
In the beginning it was an association of some hundred 
chiefs of families. Later the number of citizens in- 
creased, because the younger branches obtained a 
position of equality. Later still, the freed clients, the 
plebs, all -that multitude which, during centuries, had 
remained outside the political and religious association, 
sometimes even outside the sacred enclosure of the 
city, broke down the barriers which were opposed to 
them, and penetrated into the city, where they im- 
mediately became the masters. 


2. Histoi-y of this Revolution at Athens. 

The Eupatiids, after the overthrow of royalty, gov- 
erned Athens during four centuries. Upon this long 
dominion history is silent ; we know only one fact — that 
it was odious to the lower orders, and that the people 
tried to change the_goil'ernment. 

In the year /598/ the discontent, which appeared 
general, and cemin feigns which showed a revolution 
to be at hand, aroused the ambition of a Eupatrid, 
Cylou, who undertook to overthrow the government 
of his caste, and to establish himself as a popular 
tyrant. The energy of the archons frustrated the en- 
terprise, but the agitation continued after hiin. In 
vain the Enpatrids employed all the resources of their 
religion. In vain did they announce that the gods 
were irritated, and that spectres had appeared. In vain 
did they purify the city fi'om the crimes of the people, 
and raise two altars to Violence and Insolence to ap- 
pease these two divinities, whose malign influence had 
agitated all minds.' All this was to no purpose. The 
feeling of hatred was not appeased. They brought 
from Crete the pious Epimenides, a mysterious person- 
age, who was Baid to be the son of a goddess, and he 
performed a series of expiatory cerettioni-es ; they hoped, 
by thus striking the imaginations of the people, to 
revive religion, and consequently to fortify the aristoc- 
racy. But the people were not moved ; the religion 
of the Eupatrids no longer had any influence upon their 
minds ; they peraisted in demanding reform. 

For sixteen yea rs longer the fierce opposition of the 

' Diogenes Laertius, I. 110. Cicero, Ve Leg., II. 11. Athe- 
nseus, p. 602. 


peasants of the mountain and the patient opposition of 
the rich men of the shore waged war against the Eu- 
patrids. Finally, those who were wisest among the 
three parties agreed to intrust to Solon the care of 
tei'minating the discords, and of pieventing still greater 
misfortunes. Solon had the rare fortune to belong at 
the same time to the Eupatrids by birth, and to the 
merchants by the occupation of his earlier years. His 
poetry, exhibits hira to us as a man entirely free from 
the prejudice of caste. By his conciliatory spirit, by 
his taste for wealth and luxury, by his love of pleasure, 
he was far removed from the old Eupatrids. He 
belonged to new Athens. 

We have said above that Soioii began by freeing the 
land from the old domination which the religion of 
the Eupatrid families had exercised over it. He broke 
the chains of clientship. So greiat a change in the 
social state brought with it another in the political 

The lower orders needed thenceforth, according to 
the expression of Solon himself^ a shield to defend their 
newly-found liberty. This shield was political rights. 

Solon's constitution is fur from being well known to 
us; it appears, however, that all the Athenians made 
from that time a part of the assembly of the people, 
and that the senate was no longer composed of Eupa- 
trids alone ; it appears even that the archons could be 
elected outside the ancient priestly caste. These grave 
innovations destroyed ^11 the ancient rules of the city. 
The right of suffrage, magistracies, priesthood, the 
direction of society, all these had to be shared by the 
Eupatrid with the inferior caste. In the new constitur 
tion no account was takeil of the rights of primogeni- 
ture. There were still classes, but men were no longer 


distinguished except by wealth. The rule of the Eu- 
patrids disappeared. The Eupatrid was no longer of 
any account, unless he was rich; he had influence 
through his wealth, and not through birth. Thence- 
forth the poet could say, " In poverty the noble is of 
no account," and the people applauded in the theatre 
this line of the poet- "Of what rank is this man? — 
Rich, for those are now the noble." ' 

The system which was thus founded had two sorts 
of enemies — the Eupatrids, who regretted their lost 
privileges, and the poor, who still suffered from the 
inequality of their rank. 

Hardly had Solon finished his work when agitation 
recommenced. "The poor," says Plutarch, "showed 
themselves the fierce enemies of the rich." The new 
government displeased them, perhaps, quite as much 
as that of the Eupatrids. Besides, seeing that the 
Eupatrids could still be archons and senators, many 
imagined that the revolution had not been complete. 
Solon had maintained the republican forms ; now the 
people still entertained a blind hatred against these 
forms of government under which they had seen, for 
four centuries, nothing but the reign of the aristocracy. 
Alter the example of many Greek cities, they wished 
for a tyrant. 

Peisistratus, a Eupatrid, but following his own per- 
sonal ambition, promised the poor a division of the 
lands, and attached them to himself. One day he ap- 
peared in the assembly, and, pretending that he had' 
been wounded, asked for a guard. The men of the 
higher classes were about to reply and unveil his false- 
hood, but "the people were ready to resort to violence 

' Euripides, Phciniss. Alexis, in Athenseus, IV. 49. 


to sustain Peisistratus ; the rich, seeing this, fled in dis- 
order." Thus one of the first acts of the popular as- 
sembly recently established was to enable a man to 
become master of his country. 

But it does not appear that the reign of Peisistratus 
offered any check to the development of the destinies 
of Athens. Its principal effect, on the contrary, was 
to guarantee this great social and political reform, 
which had just taken place, against a reaction. The 
Eupatrids never regained their lost power. 

The people showed themselves little desirous of re- 
covering their libei ty. Twice a coalition of the great 
and the rich overthrew Peisistratus; twice he returned 
to power, and his sons governed Athens after him. 
The intervention of the Lauedsemoniau army was re- 
quired in Attica to put au end to this family's rule. 

The ancient aristocracy had for a moment the hope 
of profiting by the fall of Peisistratus, and regaining 
its privileges. They not only failed of this, but re- 
ceived a still ruder blow. Cleisthenes, who belonged 
to this class, but who was of a family which it had 
covered with opprobrium, and had seemed to reject for 
three generations, found the surest means of taking 
away the little of its power that still remained. Solonj 
in changing the constitution, had retained the old reli- 
gious organization of Athenian society. The population 
remained divided into two or three hundred gentes, 
into twelve phratries, and four tribes. In each one of 
these groups there were, as in the preceding period, an 
hereditary worship, a priest, who was a Eupatrid, uud 
a chief; who was the same as the priest. All this was 
a relic of the past, which disappeared slowly. Through 
this the traditions, the usages, the rules, the distinct 
lions that existed in the old social state, were perpetu- 


ated. All these had been established by religion, and 
in theii- turn they maintained religion — that is to say, 
the power of the great families. There were in each 
of these organizations two classes of men. On the 
one side were the Eupatrids, who had, by right of 
birth, the priesthood and the authority ; on the other, 
men of an inferior condition, who were no longer either 
slaves or clients, but who were still retained by reli- 
gion under the authority of the Eupatrids. In vain did 
tlie laws of Solon declare that all Athenians were free. 
The old religion seized a man as he went out of the 
assembly where he had voted freely, and said to him, 
" Thou art bound ( o the Eupatrid through worship ; 
thou owest him respect, deference, submission ; as a 
member of the city, Solon freed thee ; but as a 
member of a t : ibe, thou obeyest the Eupatrid ; as a 
member of a pliratry, tlion also hast a Eupatrid for a 
chief; in the family itself, in the gens where thou wert 
born, and which thou canst not leave, thou still findest 
the authority of the Eupatrid." Of what avail was it 
that the political law had made a citizen of tliis man, 
if religion and manners persisted in making him a cli- 
ent ? For several generations, it is true, many men 
lived outside these organizations, whether tliey had 
come from foreign countries, 'or had escaped from the 
gens .and the tribe, to be free. But these men suffered 
in another w.<iy; they found themselves in a state of 
moral inferiority compared with other men, and a sort 
of ignominy was attached to their independence. 
There was, therefore, after the political reform of So- 
lon, anotlier reform to be made in the domain of reli- 
gion. Cleisthenes accomplished it by suppressing the 
four old religious tribes, and replacing them with ten 
tribes, which were divided into demes. 


These tribes and demes resembled in appearance the 
ancient tribes and gentes. In each one of these or- 
ganizations there were a worship, a priest, a judge, 
assemblies for religious ceremonies, and assemblies to 
deliberate upon the common interests.' But the new 
groups differed from the old in two essential points. 
First, all the free men of Athens, even those who 
had not belonged to the old tribes and gentes, were 
included in the divisions of Cleisthenes.* This was a 
great reform ; it gave a worship to those who before 
had none, and included in a religious association those 
who had previously been excluded from every associa- 
tion. In the second place, men were distributed in 
the tribes and demes, not according to birth, as for- 
merly, but according to their locality. Birth was of 
no account; men were equal, and privileges were no 
longer known. The worship for which the new tribe 
and deme were established was no longer the heredita- 
ry worship of an ancient family ; men no longer assem- 
bled around the hearth of a Eupatrid. The tribe or 
deme no longer venerated an ancient Eupatrid as a 
divine ancestor ; the tribes had new eponymous heroes 
chosen from among the ancient personages of whom 
the people had preserved a grateful recollection, and as 
for the demes, they uniformly adopted as their protect- 
ing gods Zeus, the guardian of the walls, and the pater- 
nal Apollo. Henceforth there was no reason why the 
priesthood should be hereditary in the deme, as it had 
been in the gens, or why the priest should always be 
a Eupatrid. In the new groups the priestly office, as 

' ^schines, in Ctesiph., 30. Demosthenes, in Eulul. Pol- 
lux, VIII. 19, 95, 107. 

= Aristotle, Politics, III. 1, 10; VII. 2. Scholiast on .ais- 
chines, edit. Didot, p. 511. 

378 THB BBvoLUTiorrs. book it. 

well as that of the chief, was annual, and every mem- 
ber might enjoy it in his turn. 

This reform completed the overthrow of the aristoc- 
racy of the Eupatrids. From this time there was no 
longer a religious caste, no longer any privileges of 
birth, either in religion or in politics. Athenian socie- 
ty was completely transformed.' 

Now, the suppression of the old tribes, replaced by 
new ones, to which all men had access, and in which 
they were equal, was not a- fact peculiar to the history 
of Athens. The same change took place at Cyrene, 
Sicyon, Elis, and Sjwrta, and probably in many other 
Greek cities.'' Of all the means calculated to weaken 
the ancient aristocracy, Aristotle saw none more effi- 
cacious than Ibis : " If one wished to found a democ- 
racy," he says, " he would proceed as Cleisthenes did 
at Athens; he would establish- new tribes and new 
phratiies ; for the hereditary family sacrifices he would 
substitute sacrifices where all men might be admitted, 
and he would associate and blend the peoi:)le together 
as much as possible, being careful to break up all ante- 
rior associations." ' 

When this reform has been accomplished in all the 
cities, it may be said that the ancient mould of society 
has been broken, and that a new social body has been 
formed. This change in the organizations which the 
ancient hereditary religion had established, and which 

' The ancient phratrxes and the yhij were not suppressed ; 
they continued, on the contrary, down to the close of Greek 
history ; but they were thenceforth only religious bodies, and of 
no account politically. 

= Herodotus, V. 67, 68. Aristotle, Politics, VII. 2, 11. Pau- 
sanias, V. 9. 

' Aristotle, Politics, VII, 3, 11 (VI. 8). 


it had declared immutable, marks the end of the reli- 
gious government of the city. 

3. Bistory of this' Mevolution at Home. 

At Rome the plebs had a great inflaenoe at an 
early date. The situation of the city, between the 
Latins, the Sabines, and the Etruscans, condemned it 
to perpetual war, aud war required that there should 
be a numerous population. The kings, therefore, had 
welcomed and invited all foreigners, without regard to 
their origin. Wars succeeded each other without in- 
termission, and as there was a need of men, the most 
common result of every victory was to take away the 
inhabitants of the conquered city and transfer them to 
Rome. What became of these men, brought with the 
booty ? If there were found among them patrician 
and priestly families, the patricians hastened to associ- 
ate them with themselves. As to the multitude, some 
of them became the clients of the great, or of the 
king, and a part were left with the plebs. 

Still other elements entered into the composition of 
this class. Many foreigners flocked to Rome, as a 
place whose situation rendered it convenient for com- 
merce. The discontented among the Sabines, the 
Etruscans, and the Latins, found a refuge there. All 
this class joined the plebs. The client who succeeded 
in escaping from the gens became a plebeian. The 
patrician, who formed a misalliance, or was guilty of 
any crime that lost him his rank, fell into the inferior 
class. Every bastard was cast out by religion from 
pure fa^nilies, and counted among the plebs. 

¥oc all these reasons the plebs increased in numbers. 
The s-'; i?gle which had begun between the patricians 


and the king increased their importance. The kings 
and the plebs early felt that they had the same ene^ 
mies. The ambition of the kings was to cut loose 
from the old principles of government, which limited 
the exercise of their power. The ambitiofl of the ple- 
beians was to break the anon nt barriers which exclud- 
ed them from the religious and political associations. 
A tacit alliance was established — the kings protected 
the plebs, and the plebs sustained the kings. 

The traditions and testimony of antiquity place the 
great progress of the plebeians under the reign ofger- 
vius . The hatred which the patricians preserved for 
this king sufficiently shows what his policy was. His 
first reform was to give lands to the plebeians, not, it 
is true, in the ager Romanus, but in the territory 
taken from the enemy ; still, this conferring the right 
to own land upon families that had previously cultivat- 
ed only the fields of others was none the less an in- 

What was graver still was, that he published laws 
for the plebs, which had never been done before. These 
laws, for the most part, related to obligations which the 
plebeian might contract with the patrician. It was the 
commencement of a common law between the two 
orders, and for the plebs it was the commencement of 

Later this same king established a new division in 
the city. Without destroying the three ancient tribes, 
where the patrician families and clients were classed 

' Livy, I. 47. Dionysius, IV. 13. The preceding kings 
had already distributed the lands taken from the enemy ; but it 
is not certain that they admitted the plebs to share la the di- 

» Dionysius, IV. 13; IV. 43. 


according to rank, he formed four new tribes, in which 
the entire population was distributed according to resi- 
dence. We have seen this reform at Athens, and we 
know what were its effects ; they were the same a% 
Rome. The plebeians, who did not enter the ancient 
tribes, were adtnitted into the new ones.' This multi- 
tude, up to that time a floating mass, a species of no- 
madic population that had no connection with the city, 
had thenceforth its fixed divisions and its regular or- 
ganization. The formation of these tribes, in which the 
two orders were mingled, really marked the entrance 
of the plebs into the city. Every tribe had a hearth 
and sacrifices. Servius established Lares in every pub- 
lic place of the city, in eveiy district of the country. 
They served as divinities for those who had no rank. 
The plebeian celebrated the religious festivals of his 
quarter, and of his burgh {compitaliu,, paffanalia), as 
the patrician celebrated the sacrifice of his gens and 
of his cury. The plebeian had a religion. 

At the same time a great change took place in the 
sacred ceremony of the lustration. The people were 
no longer ranged by curies, to the exclusion of those 
whom the curies did not admit. All the free inhabit- 
ants of Rome, all those who formed a part of the new 
tribes, figured in the sacred act. For the first time all 
men, without distinction Of patrician, or client, or ple- 
beian, were united. The king walked around this 
mixed assembly, driving victims before him, and sing- 
ing solemn hymns. The ceremony finished, all alike' 
found themselves citizens. 

Before Servius, only two classes of men were dis- 
tinguished at Rome — the sacerdotal caste of patri 

' Dionysitts, I. 26. 


cians with their clients, and the plebeian class. ¥o 
other distinction was known than that which religion 
had established. Servius marked a new division, which 
had wealth for its foundation. He divided the inhab- 
itants of Rome into two gi-eat categories ; in the one 
were those who owned property, in the other those 
who had nothing. The first was divided into five 
classes, in which men were divided off according to the 
amount of their fortune.' By this means Servius in- 
troduced an entirely new principle into Roman society; 
wealth began to indicate rank, as religion had done 

Servius applied this division of the Roman popula- 
tion to the military service. Before him, if the plebe- 
ians fought, it was not in the ranks of the legion. But 
as Servius had made proprietors and citizens of them, 
he could also make them legionaries. From this time 
the army was no longer composed of men exclusively 
from the curies ; all free men, all those at least who 
had property, made a part of it, and the poor alone 
continued to be excluded. The rank of patrician or 
client no longer determined the armor of each soldier 
and his post in battle ; the army was divided by classes, 
exactly like the population, according to wealth. The 
first class, which had complete armor, and the two fol^ 
lowing, which had at least the shield, the helmet, and 

' Modern historians generally reckon six classes. In reality 
' there were but five : Cicero, De Sepub., II. 22 ; Aulua Gellius, 
X. 28. The knights on the one hand, and the proletarii, poor 
inhabitants, on the other, were not counted in the classes. We 
must note, moreover, that the word classis had not, in the an- 
cient language, a sense similar to our word class ; it was applied 
to a military body ; and this shows that the division established 
by Servius was rather military than political. 


the sword, formed the three first lines of the legion. 
The fourth and the fifth, being light-armed, made up 
the body of skirmishers and slingers. Each class was 
divided into companies, called centuries. The first of 
these consisted, we are told, of eighty men ; the four 
others twenty or thirty each. The cavalry was a sepa- 
rate body, and in this arm also Servius made a gi-eat 
innovation. Whilst up to that time the young patri- 
cians alone made up the centuries of the knights, Ser- 
vius admitted a certain number of plebeians, chosen 
from the wealthiest, to fight on horseback, and formed 
of these twelve new centuries. 

Now, the army could not be touched without at the 
same time modifying the political constitution. The 
plebeians felt that their importance in the state had in- 
creased: they had arms, discipline, and chiefs; every 
century had its centurion and its sacred ensign. This 
military organization was permanent; peace did not 
dissolve it. The soldiers, it is true, on their return from 
a campaign, quitted their ranks, as the law forbade 
them to enter the city in military order. But after- 
■wai'ds, at the first signal, the citizens resumed their 
arms in the Campus Martius, where each returned to 
his century, his centurion, and his banner. Now, it 
happened, twenty-five years after Servius Tullius, the 
army was called together without any intention of 
making a military expedition. The army being as- 
sembled, and the men having taken their ranks, every 
century having its centurion at its head, and its ensign 
in the centre, the magistrate spoke, proposed laws, 
and took a vote. The six patrician centuries and the 
twelve of the plebeian knights voted first ; after them 
the centuries of infantry of the first class, and the others 
in turn. Thus was established in a short time the 


comitia centuriata, where every soldier had the right 
of suffrage, and where the plebeian and the patrician 
were hardly distinguished.' 

All these reforms made a singular change in the ap- 
pearance of the Roman city. The patricians remained, 
with their hereditary worehip, their curies, their senate. 
But the plebeians became accustomed to indiepen- 
dence, wealth, arms, and religion. The plebs were not 
confounded with the patricians, but became strong by 
the side of them. 

The patricians, it is true, took their revenge. They 
commenced by killing Servius ;' later, they banished 

' It appears to us incontestable that the comitia by centuries 
were identical with the Boman army. What proves this is, first, 
that this assembly is often called the army by Latin writers : 
vrbanus exercitus (Varro, VI. 93) ; qutim comitiorum causa exer- 
citus ednctus esset (Livy, XXXIX. 15) ; miles ad suffragia, veca- 
tur et comitia centuriata dicuntur (Ampelius, 48) : second, that 
these cotaitia were convoked iexactly as the army was when it 
entered on a campaign — that is to say, at the sound of a trum- 
pet (Varro, V. 91) ; two standards floated from the citadel, one 
red, to call the infantry, the other dark-green for the cavalry : 
third, that these comitia were always held in the Campus 
Martius, because the army could not assemble within the city 
(Aulus Gellius, XV. 27) : fourth, that every voter went wiih his 
arms (Dion Cassias, XXXVII.) ; fifth, that the voters were dis- 
tributed by centuries, the infantry on one side, and the cavalry 
on tlie other : sixth, that every century had at its head its cen- 
turion and its ensign, Sffjrej Ir 7to;.f«(B{Dionysius, VII. 59) : sev- 
enth, that men more than sixty years of age, not being a part of 
the army, had not the right to vote in these comitia (Maerobiiis, 
I. 5 ; Festus, v. Depontam). Then, in the ancient language, tire 
word chassis signified a military body, and the word centuria de- 
signated a military company. The proletarii did not appear in 
this assembly at first; still, as it was a custom in the army to 
form a century of laborers, they might form a century in the 


Tai-qiiin. The defeat of royalty was the defeat of thQ 

The patriqiaus attempted to take away from them 
all the conquests which they had made uudfi- the kings. 
One of the first acts was to take from them the lands 
that Servins bad given them.; and we must remark, the 
ouly reason given for despoiling them thus, was that 
they were plebeians.' The patricians, therefore, re- 
stored the old principkj which required that berecUtai-y 
religion alone should establish the right of property, 
and which did not permit a man without religion and 
without ancestors to exercise any right over the soil. 

The laws that Servius had made for the plebs were 
also withdrawn. If the system of classes and the comi- 
tia centuriata were not abolished by the patricians, it 
was because the state of war did not allow them to dis- 
organize the army, and also because they understood 
how to surround the comitia with formalities such that 
they could always control the elections. They dared 
not take from the plebs the title of citizens, and allowed 
them to figure in the census. But it is clear that, while 
allowing the plebs to form a part of the city, they 
shared with them neither political rights nor religion, 
nor the laws. In name, the plebs remained in the 
city; in fact, they were excluded. 

Let us not unreasonably accuse the patricians, or 
suppose that they coldly conceived the design of op- 
pressing and crushing the plebs. The patrician who 
was descended from a saered family, and felt himself 
the heir to a worship, understood no other social system 
than that whose rules had been traced by the ancient 
religion. In his eyes the constituent element of every 

' CasEius Hemina, in Nonius, Book II. v. PUvitus. 


society was the gens, with its worship, its hereditary 
chief, and its clientship. For him the city could not be 
anything except an assembly of the chiefs of the gentes. 
It did not enter his mind that there could be any other 
political system than that which rested upon worship, 
or other magistrates than those who performed the 
public sacrifices, or other laws than those whose sacred 
formulas religion had dictated. It was useless to say 
to him that the plebeians also had within a short time 
adopted a religion, and that they offered sacrifices to 
the Lares of the public squares. He would reply that 
this religion had not the essential character of a i-eal 
religion, that it was not hereditary, that the fires were 
not ancient fires, and that these Lares were not real 
ancestors. He would have added, that the plebeians, 
in adopting a worship, had done what they had no right 
to do, and to obtain one, had violated all principle; 
that they had taken only the external forms of worship, 
and had neglected the essential principle ; it was not 
hereditary; that, in fine, this image of religion was ab- 
solutely the opposite of religion. 

Since the patrician persisted in thinking that heredi- 
tary religion alone should govern men, it followed that 
he saw no religion possible for the plebs. He could 
not understand how the social power could be regularly 
exercised upon this class of men. The sacred law could 
not be applied to them; justice was sacred ground, 
which was forbidden to them. So long as there had 
been kings, they had taken upon themselves to govern 
the plebs, and they had done this according to certain 
rules, which had nothing in common with the ancient 
religion, and which necessity or the public interest had 
produced. But by the revolution, which had abolished 
royalty, religion had assumed its empire ; it necessarily 


followed that the whole plebeian class were placed be- 
yond the reach of social laws. 

The patricians then established a government con- 
fonnable to their own principles; but they had not 
dreamed of establishing one for the plebs. The patri- 
cians had not the courage to drive the plebeians from 
Rome, but they no longer found the means of organizing 
them into a regular society. We thus see, in the midst 
of Rome, thousands of families for wbich there ex- 
isted no fixed laws, no social order, no magistrates. The 
city, the populus, — that is to say, the patrician society, 
with the client that had remained to it, — arose powerful, 
organized, majestic. About it lived a plebeian multi- 
tude, which was not a people, and did not form a body. 
The consuls, the chiefs of the patrician city, maintained 
order in this confused population ; the plebeians obeyed ; 
feeble, generally poor, they bent under the power of 
the patrician body. 

The problem that was to decide the future of Rome 
was this : How can the plebs become a regular society ? 

Now, the patricians, governed by the rigorous prin- 
ples of their religion, saw only one means of resolviijg 
this problem ; this was to adopt the plebs, as clients, 
into the sacred organization of the gentes. It .appears 
that one attempt was made in this direction. The 
question of debts, which agitated Rome at this period, 
can only be explained, if we see in it the more grave 
question of clientship and slavery. The Roman plebs. 
robbed of their lands, were no longer able to support 
themselves. The patricians calculated that, by the 
sacrifice of a little money, they could bring this poor 
class into their hands. The plebeian began to borrow. 
In borrowing, he gave himself up to the creditor — sold 
himself. It was so much a sale that it was a transac- 


tion per ces et libram — that is to say, with the solemn 
formality which was commonly employed to conifer 
upon a man the right of property in any object.' The 
plebeian, it is true, took security against slavery. By a 
sort of fiduciary contract, he stipulated that he should 
retain his rank of freeman until the day of the pay- 
ment, and that on that day he should recover full pos- 
session of himself on paying the debt. But on that 
day, if the debt was not paid, he lost the benefit of his 
contract. He was in the power of his creditor, who 
took him to his house and made him his client and 
servant. In all this the creditor did not think he was 
committing any act of inhumanity ; the ideal of society 
being, in his eyes, the government of the gens, he saw 
notliing more legitimate or more commendable than to 
bring men into it by any means possible. If this plan 
had succeeded, the plebs would have disappeared in 
little time, and the Roman city would have been noth- 
ing but an association of patrician gentea, sharing 
among them a multitude of clients. 

But this clientship was a chain which the plebeian 
held in horror. He fought against the patrician who, 
armed with his debt, wished to make a client of him. 
Clientship was for him equivalent to slavery ; the pa- 
trician's house was, in his eyes, a prison (ergastuluim). 
Many a time the plebeian, seized by the patrician, called 
upon his associates, and stiried up the plebeians, cry- 
ing that he was a free man, and displaying the wounds 
which he had received in the defence of Rome. The 
calculation of the patricians only served to irritate the 
plebs. They saw the danger, and strove with all their 

' Varro, L. L., VII. 105. Livy, VIII. 28. Aulus Gellius, 
XX. 1. f estus, V. Nextmi. 


energy to free themselves from this precarious state, in 
which the fall of the royal governm*!!* had placed 
them. They wished to have laws and rights. 

But it does not appear that these men aspired at 
■first to share the laws and rights of the patricians. 
Pei-haps they thought, with the patricians themselves, 
that there eonld "be nothing in common between the 
two orders. KTo one thought of civil and political 
equality. That the plebeians could raise themselves 
to the level of the patricians, never entered the minds 
of the plebeian of the first centuries any more tha-n it 
•occurred to the paifcrician. 

Ear, therefore, from claiming equality of rights and 
'laws, these men seem to have preferred, at first, com- 
plete separation. In Rome they found no remedy for 
their sufferings ; they saw but one means of escaping 
from their inferiority — this was to depart from Rome. 

The historian has well expressed their thoughts when 
lie attributes this language to them : " Since the patri- 
cians wish to possess the city alone, let them enjoy it 
at their ease. For us Rome is nothing. We have 
neither heaiiths, nor sacrifices, nor country. We only 
leave a foreign city ; no hei'editary religion attaches 
us to this place. Ej^ery land is good for us ; where 
we find liberty, there shi^l be our country." ' And 
they went to tate up their abode on the Sacred iM^ount, 
beyond the limits of the ager Momanus. 

In view of such an act the senate was divided in 
•opinion. The more airdemt of the patricians showed 
xleai'ly that the departure of the plebs was far from 
afflicting them.. Thenceforth the patricians alone 
would remain aH Rome with the clients that were still 

' Dionysius, VJ. 45, 79. 


faithful to them. Rome would renounce its future 
grandeur, but the patricians would be masters there. 
They would no longer have these plebeians to trouble 
them, to whom the rules of ordinary government could 
not be applied, and who were an embarrassment to the 
city. They ought, perhaps, to have been driven out 
at the same time with the kings ; but since they had 
of themselves taken the Resolution to depart, the pa 
triciaus ought to let them go, and rejoice at their de- 

But others, less faithful to old principles, or solici- 
tous for the grandeur of Rome, were afl3.icted at the 
departure of the plebs. Rome would lose half its sol- 
diers. What would become of it in the midst of the 
Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans — all enemies ? The 
plebs had good qualities ; why could not these be made 
use of for the interests of the city ? These senators 
desired, therefore, at a cost of a few concessions, of 
which they did not perhaps see all the consequences, 
to bring back to the city those thousands of arms that 
made the strength of the legions. 

On the other side, the plebs perceived, at the ebd of 
a few months, that they could not live upon the Sacred 
Mount. They procured, indeed, what was materially 
necessary for existence, but all that went to make up 
an organized society was wanting. They could not 
found a city there, because they could not find a priest 
who knew how to perform the religious ceremony of 
the foundation. They could not elect magistrates, for 
they had no prytaneum with its perpetual fire, where 
the magistrate might sacrifice. They could find no 
foundation for social laws, since the only laws of which 
men then had any idea were derived fi-om the patrician 
religion. In a word, they had not among them the ele- 


ments of a city. The plebs saw clearly that by beiug 
more independent they were not happier; that ihey did 
not form a more regular society than at Rome ; and 
that the problem, whose solution was so important tt» 
them, was not solved. They had gained nothing by 
leaving Rome ; it was not in the isolation of the Sacred 
Mount that they could find the laws and the rights to 
which they aspired. 

It was found, therefore, that the plebs and patricians, 
though they had almost nothing in common, could 
not live without each other. They came together 
and concluded a treaty of iilliance. This treaty ap- 
pears to have been made on the same terms as those 
which terminate a war between two different peoples. 
Plebeians and patricians were indeed neither the same 
people nor the same city. By this treaty the patrician 
did not agree that the plebeian should make a part of 
the religious and political city ; it does not appear that 
the pk-bs demanded it. They agreed merely that in 
the future the plebs, having been organized' into some- 
thing like a regular society, should have chiefs taken 
from their own number. This is the origin of the 
tribuneship of the plebs — an entirely new institution, 
which resembled nothing that the city had known 

The power of the tribunes was not of the same na- 
ture as the authority of the magistrates ; it was not 
derived from the city worship. The tribune perfoniied 
no religious ceremony. He was elected without the 
auspices, and the consent of the gods was not neces- 
sary to create him.' He had neither curule chair, nor 
purple robe, nor crown of leaves, nor any of those 

' Dionysius, X. Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 8i. 


insignia which, in all the ancient cities, designated ma- 
gistrates and priests, for the veneration of men. He 
was never counted among the Roman magistrates. 
What, then, was the nature, and what was the princi- 
ple, of his power? Here we must banish (i-om our 
minds all modern ideas and habits, and transport our- 
selves as much as possible into the midst of the ideas 
of the ancients. Up to that time men had understood 
political authority only as an appendage to the priest- 
hood. Thus, when they wished to establish a power 
that was not connected with worship, and chiefe who 
were not pnestB, they were forced to resort to a singu- 
lar de\ice. For this, the day on which they created 
the first tribune, tkey performed a religious ceremony 
bf a peculiar chnractei'.' Historians do not describe 
the rites ; they iTtorely say that the effect was to render 
these first triliunes sacrosancti. Now, these woi-ds 
signified that the body of the tribune should be reck- 
oned thenceforth among the objects which religion 
forbade to be touched, and whose simple touch made 
a man unclean." Thus it happened, if some devout 
Roman, some 'patridian, met a tribune in the public 
street, he made it a duty to purify himself on return- 
ing home, "as if his body had been defilod simply by 
tlie meeting."' This sacrosanct chai-acter remained 
attached to the tribune during the wliole term of his 
office ; then in creating his successor, he ti'ansmitted 

' Livy,, III. 55. 

^ This is the proper sense of the word sacer. Flautns Bacch., 
IV. 6, 13. Catullus, XIV. 12. Festus, v. Sacer. Macrobius, III. 
7. According to Livy, the epithet sacrosanctus was not at 
first applied to the tribune, but to the man who injured the;per- 
son of the tribune. 

^ Plutarch, Rom,. Quest., 81. 


llie same character to him, just as the consul, in creat- 
ing other consuls, parsed to them the auspices, and thfe 
power to perform the sacred rites. Later, the tribune- 
ship having been interrupted ■during two years, it was 
necessary, in order to establish the new tribunes, to 
renew the religious ceremony which had been per- 
formed on the Sacred Mount. 

We do not sufficiently understand the ideas of the 
ancients, to say -whether this sacrosanct eharacter 
rendered the person of the tribune bonoj-able in tlw 
eyes of the patricians, x>v marked him, on tbe contrary, 
as an object of maledittion and horror. The second 
conjeQture is more in accordance with probability. 
What is certain is, that in every way the tribune was 
inviolable; the band of a patrician could not touch 
him without grave impiety. 

A law conferred and guaranteed this inviolability ; 
it declared that "no person should use violence to- 
wards a tribune, or strike him, or kill him" It added 
that " whoever committed one of these acts against a 
tribune should be impure, that his property should be 
confiscated to the profit of the temple of Ceres, and that 
one might kill him with impunity." The law conclud- 
ed in these words, whose vagueness powerfully aided 
the future progress of the tribuneship : " No magis- 
trate, or private person, shall "have the right to do •any- 
thing against a tribune." All the citizens took an oath 
by which they agreed always to observe this strange 
latv, calling flffwn upon their heads the wrath of the 
gods if thfijy violated it, and added that whoever ren- 
dered himself guilty of an attempt against a tribune 
"should be tainted with the deepest impurity." ' 

> DionysiuB, VI. 89; X. 82, 42. 


This privilege of inviolability extended as far as the 
body of the tribune could extend its direct action. If 
a plebeian was maltreated by a consul who condemned 
him to imprisonment, or by a creditor who laid hands 
on him, the tribune appeared, placed himself between 
them {inter cessio), and stayed the patrician hand. 
Who would have dared " to do anything against a 
tribune," or expose himself to be touched by him. 

But the tribune exercised this singular power only 
where he was present. Out of his presence plebeians 
might be maltreated. He had no power over what 
took place beyond the reach of his hands, of his sight? 
of his word.' 

The patricians had not given the plebeians rights ; 
ihey had only ngreed that certain ones among them 
should be inviolable. Still this was enough to afford 
some security to all. The tribune was a sort of living 
altai', to which the right of refuge was attached. 

The tribunes naturally became the chiefs of the plebs, 
and assumed the power of deciding causes for them. 
They had not, it is true, the right of citing before them 
even a plebeian, but they could seize upon a person." 
Once in their hands, the man obeyed. It was suffi- 
cient even to be found within the circle where their 
voice could be heard; this word was irresistible, and a 
man had to submit, even if he were a patrician or a 

The tribune had no political authority. Not being 
a magistrate, he could not convoke the curies or the 

' Triiuni antiquitua creati, non j'uri dicundo nee causis que- 
relisque de ataentibtts noscendis, sed intercessionibus faciendis 
quibua prasentes fuissent, ut injuria qua coram fieret at cere 
tur. Aulus Gellius, XIII. 12. 

« Aulus Gellius, XV. 27. Djojiysjus, VIH. 87; VI. 90. 


centuries. He could make no proposition in the sen- 
ate ; it was not supposed, in the beginning, that he 
could appear there. He had nothing in common with 
the real city — that is to say, with the patrician city, 
where men did not recognize any authority of Ids. He 
was not the tribune of the people ; he was the tribune 
of the plebs. 

There were then, as previously, two societies in 
Rome — the city and the plebs ; the one strongly organ- 
ized, having laws, magistrates, and a senate ; the other 
a multitude, which remained without rights and laws, 
but which found in its inviolable tribunes protectors 
and judges. 

In succeeding years we can see how the tribunes 
took courage, and what unexpected powers they as- 
sumed. They had no authority to convoke the peo- 
ple, but they convoked them. ' Nothing called them to 
the senate ; they sat at first at the door of the cham- 
ber ; later they sat within. They had no power to 
judge the patricians; they judged them and con- 
demned them. This was the result of the inviolability 
attached to them as sacrosancti. Every other power 
gave way before them. The patricians were disarmed 
the day tliey had pronounced, with solemn rites, that 
whoever touched a tribune should be impure. The 
law said, "Nothing shall be done against a tribune." 
If, then, this tribune convoked the plebs, the plebs 
assembled, and no one could dissolve this assembly, 
which the presence of the tribune placed., beyond the 
power of the patricians and the laws. If the tribune 
entered the senate, no one could 'compel him to retire. 
If he seized a consul, no one could take the consul 
from his hand. Nothing could resist the boldness of 
a tribune. Against a tribune no one had any power, 
except another tribune. 


As soon as the plebs thus had their c'hiefs, they did 
not wait long before they had deliberative assemblies. 
These did not in any manner resemble those of the 
patricians. The plebs, in their eomitia, were distrib- 
uted into tribes; the domicile, not reli^oo or wealth, 
regulated the place of each one. The assembly did 
not commence with a sacrifice ; religion did not appear 
there. They knew nothing of presages, and the voice 
of an augur, or a pontiff, could not compel men to sep- 
arate. It was really the eomitia of the plebs, and they 
had nothing of the old rules, or of the religion of the 

True, these assemblies did not at first occupy them- 
selves with the general interests of the city; they 
named no magistrates, and passed no laws. They de- 
liberated only on the interests of their own order, 
named the plebeian chiefs, and carried plebiscita. 
There was at Rome, for a long time, a double series 
of decrees — sendtusconsulta for the patricians, pie- 
hiscita for the ple^bs. The plebs did not obey the sen- 
atusconsulta, nor the patricians the plebiscita. There 
were two peoples at Rome. 

These two peoples, always in presence of each other, 
and living within the same walls, still had almost noth- 
ing in common. A plebeian could not be consul of the 
city, nor a patrician tribune of the plebs. The ple- 
beian did not enter the assembly by curies, nor the 
patrician the assembly of the tribes.' 

They were two peoples that did not even understand 

' Livy, II. 60. Dionysius, VII. 16. Festus, v. Sdta plebis. 
We speak only of the earliest times. The patricians were en- 
rolled in the tribes, bnt certainly took no part in assemblies which 
met without auspices and without a religious ceremony, and in 
which for a long time they recognized no legal authority. 


each other, not having — so to speak — common ideas,, 
If the patrician spoke in the name of religion and the 
laws, the plebeian replied that he did not know this 
hereditary religion, or the laws that flowed from it. 
If the patrician alleged a sacred custom, the plebeian 
replied in the name of the law of nature. They re- 
proached each other with injustice ; each was just ac- 
cording to his own principles,, and unjust according to 
the principles and beliefs of the other.. The assembly 
of the curies and the reunion of the patres seemed to 
the plebeian odious privilegesw In the assembly of the 
tribes the patrician sa flf a meeting condemned by re- 
ligion. The consulship was for the plebs an arbitrary 
and tyrannical authority ; the tribuneship, in the eyes 
of the patrician, was something impious, abnormal, con- 
trary to all principles ; be could not understand this 
sort of chief, who was not a priest, and who was elected 
without auspices. ^.The tribuneship deranged the sa- 
cred order of the city ; it was what a heresy is in re- 
ligion — the public worship was destroyed. "The 
gods will be against us,'' said a patrician, " so long as we 
have among us this ulcer, which is eating us up, and 
which extends its corruption to the whole social body." 
The history of Rome, during a century, was filled with 
similar discords between these two peoples, who did 
not seem to speak the same language. The patricians 
persisted in keeping the plebs without the body poli- 
tic, and the plebs established institutions of their own, 
The duality of the Roman population became from day 
to day more manifest. 

And yet there was something which formed a tie 
between these two peoples : this was war. The patri- 
cians were careful not to deprive themselves ot sol- 
diers. They had left to the plebeians the. title of citi 


zens, if only to incorporate them into the legions. 
They had taken care, too, that the inviolability of the 
tribunes should not extend outside of Rome, and for 
this purpose had decided that a tribune should never 
go out of the city. In the army, therefore, the plebs 
were under control; there was no longer a double 
power ; in presence of the enemy Rome became one. 

Then, thanks to the custom, begun after the expul. 
sion of the kings, of assembling the army to consult on 
public interests and on the choice of magistrates, there 
were mixed assemblies, where the plebeians appeared 
by the side of the patricians. Now we see clearly in 
history that the comitia by centuries became more 
and more important, and became insensibly what were 
called the great comitia. Indeed, in the conflict which 
sprang up between the assembly by curies and tlie 
assembly by tribes, it seemed natural that the comitia 
centuriata should become a sort of neutral ground, 
where general interest would be debated. 

The plebeian was not always poor. Often he be- 
longed to a family which was originally from another 
city, which was there rich and influential, and whom 
the fate of war had transported to Rome witliout taking 
away his wealth, or the sentiment of dignity that ordi- 
narily accompanies it. Sometimes, too, the plebeian 
]iad become rich by his labor, especially in the time of 
the kings. When Servius had divided the population 
into classes according to their fortunes, some plebeians 
belonged to the first class. The patricians had not 
dared, or had not been able, to abolish this division into 
classes. There was no want of plebeians, therefore, who 
fought by the side of the patricians in the foremost 
ranks of the legion, and who voted with them in the 
first centuries. 


This class, rich, haughty, and prudent as well, who 
could not have been pleased with disturbances, and 
must have feared them, who had much to lose if Rome 
fell, and much to gain if it prospered, was a natural 
mediator between the two hostile orders. 

It does not appear that the plebs felt any repugnance 
at seeing distinctions of wealth established among 
them. Thirty-six years after the establishment of the 
tribuneship, the number of tribunes was increased to 
ten, that there might be two for each of the five classes. 
The plebs, then, accepted and clung to the division 
which Servius had established. And even the poorer 
portion, which was not comprised in the classes, made 
no complaint ; it left the privileges to the wealthier, 
and did not demand its share of the tribunes. 

As to the patricians, tiiey had little fear of the im- 
portance which wealth assumed, for they also were 
rich. Wiser or more fortunate than the Eupatrids of 
Athens, who were annihilated on the day that the direc- 
tion of affairs fell to the rich, the patricians never neg- 
lected agriculture, or commerce, or even manufactures. 
To increase their fortunes was always their great care. 
Labor, frugality, and .good speculations were always 
their virtues. Besides, every victory over an enemy, 
every conquest, increased their possessions; and so 
they saw no great evil in uniting power and wealth. 
The habits and character of the nobles were such 
that they could not feel contempt for a rich man even 
though he was a plebeian. The rich plebeian ap- 
proached them, lived with them, and many relations 
of interest and friendship were established. This per- 
petual contact brought about a change of ideas. The 
plebeian made the patrician understand, little by little, 
the wishes and the rights of his class. The patrician 


ended by being convinced. Insensibly he came to have 
a less firm and haughty opinion of his superiority;, 
he was no longer so sure about his rights. Now, an 
aristocracy, when it comes to doubt that its empire is 
legitimate, either no longer has the courage to defend 
it, or defends it badly. As soon as the prerogatives 
of the patricians were no longer an article of faith for 
them, this order might be said to be half vanquished. 

The rich men appear to have exercised an influence 
of another kind on the plebs, from whom they sprang, 
and from whom they did not yet sejjarate. As they 
desired the greatness of Rome, they wished for the 
union of the two orders. Besides, they were amlatious ; 
they calculated that the absolute separation of the two 
orders forever limited their own career, by chaining theni 
forever to tlie inferior class, whilst a union would open 
a way to them, the end of which they could not see. 
They tried, therefore, to give the ideas and wishes of 
the plebeians another direction. Instead of persisting 
in forming a separate order, instead, of making laws for 
themselves which the other order would never recog- 
nize, instead of working slowly by plebiscita to make a 
species of laws for their own use,_and to prepare a code 
which would have no ofiicial value, they inspired ihe 
plebs with the idea of penetrating into the patrician 
city, and sharing its laws, institutions, and dignities. 
Prom that time the desires of the plebs turned to a 
union of the two orders on the condition of equality. 

The plebs, once started in this direction, began to 
demand a code. Theie were laws at Rome, as in all 
cities, unchangeable and holy laws, which were written, 
and the text of which was preserved by priests.' But 
these laws, which were a part of the religion, applied 

' Dionysius, X, 1. 


6nly to the members of the religious city. The plebe- 
ians had no right to know them ; and we may believe 
that they had no right to claim their protection. These 
laws existed for the curies, for the gentes, for the pa- 
tricians iand their clients, but not for others. They did 
not recognize the right to hold property in one who 
had no sacra j they granted justice to no one who had 
not a patron. It was the exclusively religious character 
of the law that the plebs wished to abolish. They de- 
manded not only that the lawfe should be reduced to 
writing dnd made public, but that there should be laws 
that should be equally applicable to the patricians and 

The tribunes wished at first, it appears, that the laws 
should be drawn up by the plebeians. The patricians 
replied, that apparently the tribunes were ignorant of 
what a law was, for otherwise they would not have 
made such a claim. " It is a complete impossibility," 
said they, "for the plebeians to make laws. You who 
have no auspices, you who do not perform religious 
acts, what have yon in common with sacred things, 
among which the laws must be counted?"' This 
notion of the plebeians appeared monstrous to the pa- 
tricians; and the old annals, which Livy and Dionys- 
ius of HalicarnassHS consulted in this part of their his- 
tories, mention frightful prodigies ^^- the heavens on fire, 
spectres leaping in the air, and showers of blood." The /^ 

real prodigy was that the plebeians thought of making 
laws. Between the two ordersj each of which was 
astonished at the persistence of the other, the republic 
remained eight years in suspense. Then the tribunes 
made a compromise. " Since you sire unwilling that the 

' Livy, III. 31. Dionysius, X. 4. ' Julius Obsequens, 1(5 


laws should be written by the plebeians," they said, 
"choose the legislators in the two orders." By this 
they thought they were conceding a great deal; but 
it was little according to the rigorous principles of the 
patrician religion. The senate replied that it was in 
no way averse to the preparation of a code, but that this 
code could be drawn up only by patricians. Finally, 
they found a means of conciliating the interests of the 
plebs with the religious requirements on which the pa- 
tricians depended. They decided that the legislators 
should all be patricians, but that their code, before be- 
ing promulgated and put in force, should be exhibited 
to the eyes of the public, and submitted to the appro- 
bation of all classes. 

This is not the moment to analyze the code of the 
decemvirs. It is only necessary at present to remark, 
that the work of the legislators, primarily exposed in 
the forum, and freely discussed by all the citizens, was 
afterwards accepted by the comitia centuriata — the 
assembly in which the two orders were confounded. 
In this there was a grave innovation. Adopted by all 
the classes, the law thenceforth was applied to all. 
We do not find, in what remains to us of the code, a 
oingle word that implies any inequality between the 
plebeian and the patrician, either in the rights of prop- 
erty, or in contracts and obligations, or in legal pro- 
ceedings. From that moment the plebeian aj-peared 
before the same tribunal as the patrician, proceeded in 
the same manner, and was judged according to the 
same law. Now, there could not have been a more 
radical revolution ; the daily usages, the manners, the 
sentiments of man towards man, the idea of personal 
dignity, the principles of law, all were changed in 


As there remained laws to make, new decemvirs 
were appointed, and among them were three plebeians. 
Thus, after it had been proclaimed with so much energy 
that the making of laws belonged to the patrician class, 
so rapid was the progress of ideas that at the end of a 
year plebeians were admitted among the legislators. 

The manners tended towards equality. Men were 
upon an incline where they could no longer hold back. 
It had become necessary to make a law forbidding 
marriage between the two orders — a certain proof that 
religion and manners no longer suflSced to prevent this. 
But hardly had they had time to make the law, when 
it fell before an almost universal reprobation. A few 
patricians persisted, indeed, in calling upon their re- 
ligion. " Our blood will be attainted, and the hereditary 
worship of every family will be destroyed by it ; no one 
will any longer know of what race he is born, to what 
sacrifices he belongs; it will be the overthrow of all 
institutions, human and divine.'' The plebeians did not 
heed these arguments, which appeared to them mere 
quibbles without weight. To discuss articles of faith 
before men who had no religion was time lost. Be- 
sides, the tribunes replied very justly, "If it is true that 
your religion speaks so loud, what need have you .of 
this law? It is of no account; withdraw it, you re- 
main as free as before not to ally yourselves w ith ple- 
beian families." The law was withdrawn. 

At once marriages became frequent between the two 
orders. The rich plebeians were so sought after, that, 
to speak only of the Licinii, they allied themselves 
with three of the patrician gentes, the Fabii, the Cor- 
ueili, and the Manlii." It could then be seen that the 

' Livy, V. 12; VI. 34, 39. 


law had been for a moment the only baiTier which 
separated the two orders. Thenceforth the patrician 
blood and plebeian blood were mingled. 

As soon as equality was conquered in private life, the 
great difficulty was overcome, and it seemed natural that 
equality should also exist in politics. The plebs then 
asked why the consulship was closed to them, and they 
saw no reason why they should be withheld from it. 

There was, however, a very potent reason. The 
consulship was not simply a command ; it was a priest- 
hood. To be a consul it was not sufficient to offer 
guarantees of intelligence, of courage, of probity ; the 
consul must also be able to perform the ceremonies of 
the public worship. It was necessary that the rites 
should be duly observed, and that the gods should be 
satisfied. Now, the patricians alone possessed the sa- 
cred character which permitted them to pronounce the 
prayers, and to call down the divine protection upon 
the city. The plebeian possessed nothing in common 
with the worship ; religion, therefore, forbade him to 
be consul — 'iiefas plebeium consulem fieri. 

We may imagine the surprise and indignation of the 
patricians, when plebeians claimed for the first time the 
right to be consuls. Religion itself appeared to be 
menaced. The nobles took a great deal of pains to 
make the plebs understand this ; they told fhem how 
important religion was to the city, that religion had 
founded the city, and that it presided over all public 
acts, dii'ected the deliberative assemblies, and gave 
the republic its magistrates. They added, that this 
religion was, according to ancient customs (more ma- 
jonem), the patrimony of the patricians, that its rites 
could be known and practised only by them, and, in 
fine, that the gods would not accept the sacrifice of a 


plebeian. To propose to have plebeian consuls was to 
wish to suppress the religion of the city. Thenceforth 
the worship would be impure, and the city would no 
longer be at peace with its gods.' 

The patricians used all theii' influence and all their 
address to keep the plebeians from the magistracies, 
They were defending at the same time their religion 
and their power. As soon as they saw that the con 
sulship was in danger of falling into the hands of plebe- 
ians, they separated from it the religious function which 
was the most important of all, — that which consisted 
in making the lustration of the citizens, — and thus the 
censorship was established. At the moment when it 
seemed impossible to resist the claims of the plebeians, 
the consulship was replaced by the military tribune- 
ship. But the plebs showed great patience ; they waited 
seventy-five years before their hopes were realized. 
It is clear that they displayed less ardor in obtaining 
the high magistracies than they had ehown in conquer^ 
ing the tribuneship and a code. 

But if the plebs were somewhat indifferent, there 
was a plebeian aristocracy that was ambitions. Here' 
is a legeiid of this period : " Fabius Ambustus, one of 
the most distinguished of the patricians, had man'ied 
his two daughters, one to a patrician, who became a 
military tribune, the other to Licinius Stolo, a promi- 
nent plebeian. This plebeian's wife was one day at the 
house of her sister, when the lictors, conducting the 
military tribune tq his house, struck the door with 
their fasces. As she was ignorant of this usage, she 
showed signs of fear. The laughter and the ironical 
questions of her sifter showed her how much a plebe- 

• Livy, VI. il. 


ian marriage had degraded her by placing her in a 
house wliere dignities and honors could never enter. 
Her father guessed her cause of trouble, and consoled 
her by promising that she should see at her own house 
what she had seen at her sister's. He planned with 
his son-in-law, and both worked with the same object 
in view." This legend teaches us two things — one, 
that the plebeian aristocracy, by living with the patri- 
cians, shared their ambitions, and aspired to their dig- 
nities ; the other, that there were patricians who encour- 
aged and excited the ambition of this new aristocracy, 
which was united with them by the closest ties. 

It appears that Licinius and Sextius, who was joined 
with him, did not calculate that the plebs would make 
great efforts to gain the right of being consuls; for 
they thought it necessary to propose three laws at the 
same time. The one, the object of which was to make 
it imperative that one of the consuls should be chosen 
from the plebs, was preceded by two others, one of 
which diminished the debts, and the other gi'anteJ 
lands to the people. The two first, it is evident, were 
intended to warm up the zeal of the plebs in favor of 
the third. For a moment the plebs were too clear- 
sighted ; they fell in with the laws that were for them, 

— the reduction of debts, and the distribution of lands, 

— and gave little heed to the consulship. But Licini- 
us replied that the three laws were inseparable, and 
that they must be accepted or rejected together. The 
Homan constitution authorized this course. Very natu- 
rally the plebs preferred to accept all, rather than to lose 
all. But it was not enough that the plebs wished to 
make these laws. It was also necessary at that time that 
the senate should convoke the great comitia, and should 



afterwards confinn the decree.' It refused for ten years ' 
to do this. Finally an event took place which Livy 
has left too much in the shade." It appears that the 
plebs took arms, and that civil war raged in the streets 
of i'ome. The patricians, when conquered, approved 
and confirmed in advance, by a senatusconsultum, all 
the decrees which the people should pass during that 
year. Now, nothing prevented the tribunes from pass- 
ing their three laws. From that time the plebs had 
every year one of the two consuls, and they were not 
long in succeeding to other magistracies. The plebeian 
wore the purple dress, and was preceded by the fasces ; 
he administered justice; he was a senator; he gov- 
erned the city, and commanded the legions. 

The priesthoods remained, and it did not seem as if 
these could be wrested from the patricians; for, in the 
old religion, it was an unchangeable dogma that the 
light of reciting the prayers, and of touching sacred 
objects, was transmitted with the blood. The knowl- 
edge of the rites, like the possession of the gods, was 
hereditary. In the same manner as the domestic wor- 
ship was a patrimony, in which no foreigner could take 
part, the worship of the city, also, belonged exclusively 
to the families that had formed the primitive city. As- 
suredly, in the first centuries of Rome, it would not 
have entered the mind of any one that a plebeian 
could be a pontiff; but ideas had changed. The ple- 
beians, by taking from religion its hereditary character, 
had made a religion for their own use. They h;id 
made for themselves domestic Lares, altars in public 
squares, and a hearth for the tribes. At first the patri- 
cians bad nothing but contempt for this parody upon 

• Livy, IV. 49. ' Livy, IV. 42. 


their religion. But, with the lapse, of time, it became 
a serious thing, and the plebeian came to believe that, 
even as to worship and the gods, he was equal to the par 

Here wei'e two opposing principles in action. The 
patrician persisted in declaring that the sacerdotal 
character and tl^e right of adoring the divinity were 
hereditary. The plebs fi-eed religion and the pries^ 
hood from the old hereditary character, and main- 
tained that every man was qualified to pronounce 
prayers, and that, provided one was a citizen, he had 
the right to perform the ceremonies of the city wor- 
ship. He thus arrived at the conclusion that a plebe 
ian might be a prii'jst. 

If the priestly offices had been distinct from the mill 
tary commands, iind from politics, it is possible that the 
plebeians wouM not have coveted them so ardently. 
But all these things were confounded. The priest was 
a magistrate; the pontiff was a judge; the augur could 
dissolve the public assemblies. The plebeians did not 
fail to perceive that, without the priesthoods, they had 
not really civil or political equa,lity. They therefore 
claimed that the pontificate should be shared by the 
two orders, as the consulship had been. 

It became difficult to allege their religions incapacity 
as an objection, since, for sixty yeai's, plebeians had 
been seen, as consuls, performing the sacrifices; as 
censors, making the lustrations ; as conquerors of the 
enemy, fulfilling the sacred formalities of the triumph. 
Through the magistracies the plebs had already gained 
possession of a part of the priestly offiet- s ; it was not 
easy to save the rest. Faith in the hereditary princi- 
ple of religion had been destroyed among the patricians 
themselves. In vain a few among then^ invoked the 


ancient rules, declaring, " The worship will oe changed 
and sullied by unworthy hands ; you are attacking the 
gods themselves; take care that their anger is not felt 
against our city." It does not seem that these argu- 
ments had mweh influence with the plebs, or even that 
the majority of the patricians were moved by them. 
The new manners gave tlie advantage to the plebeian 
principle. It was decided, therefore, that half of the 
pontiffs and augurs should, from that time, be chosen 
among the plebs.' 

This was the last conquest of the lower orders; they 
had nothing more to wish for. The patricians had lost 
even their religious superiority. Nothing distinguished 
them now from the plebs ; the name patrician was now 
only a souvenir. The old principle upon which the 
Roman city, like all ancient cities, had been founded, 
had disappeared. Of this ancient, hereditary religion, 
which had so long governed men, and which had es- 
tablished ranks among them, there now remained only 
the exterior forms. The plebeian had struggled against 
it for four centuries, — under the republic and under 
the kings, — and bad conquered. 

* The. dignities of king of the sacriflcea, qf flamena, salii, and 
vestal?, to which no political inipprtance was attached, were left 
without danger in the hands of the patricians, who always re- 
mained a sacred caste, but who were no longer a dominant caste. 



Changes in Private Law. The Code of the Twelve Ta< 
bles. The Code of Solon. 

It is not in the nature of law to be absolute and un- 
changeable; it is modified and transformed, like every 
human work. Every society has its laws, which are 
formulated and developed with it, which change with 
it, and which, in fine, always follow the movements of 
its institutions, its manners, and its religious beliefs. 

Men of the early ages had been governed by a re- 
ligion which influenced their minds in proportion to its 
rudeness. This religion had made their law, and had 
given them their political institutions. But finally so- 
ciety was transformed. The patriarchal rule which 
this hereditary religion had produced was dissolved, 
with the lapse of time, in the rule of the city. In- 
sensibly the gens was dismembered. The younger 
members separated from the older, the servant from 
the chief. The inferior class increased; it took arms, 
and finished by vanquishing the aristocracy, and con- 
quering equal rights. This change in the social state ne- 
cessarily brought another in law ; for as strongly as the 
Eupatrids and patricians were attached to the old fam- 
ily religion, and consequently to ancient law, just so 
strongly were the lower classes opposed to this religion, 
which had long caused their inferiority, and to this an- 
cient law, which had oppressed them. Not only did 
they detest it, but they did not even understand it. 
As they bad not the belief on which it was founded, 
this law appeared to them to be without foundation. 


They found it unjust, and from that time it became 
impossible for the law to maintain its ground. 

If we place ourselves back to the time when the 
plebs had increased and entered the body politic, and 
compare the law of this epoch with primitive law, 
grave changes appear at the first glance. The first 
and most salient is, that the law has been rendered 
public, and is known to all. It is no longer that sa- 
cred and mysterious chant which men repeated, with 
pious respect, from age to age; which priests alone 
wrote, and which men of the religious families alone 
could know. The law has left the rituals and the 
books of the priests ; it has lost its religious mystery ; 
it is a language which each one can read and speak. 

Something still more important is manifest in these 
codes. The nature of the law and its foundation are 
no longer the same as in the preceding period. For- 
merly the law was a religious decision; it passed for a 
revelation made by the gods to the ancestors, to the 
divine founder, to the sacred kings, to the magistrate- 
priests. In the new code, on the contrary, the legisla- 
tor no longer speaks in the name of the gods. The 
decemvirs of Rome receive their powers from the peo- 
ple. The people also invested Solon with the right to 
make laws. The legislator, therefore, no longer repre- 
sents religious tradition, but the popular will. The 
principle of the law, henceforth, is the interest of men, 
and its foundation, the consent of the greatest num- 

Two consequences flow from this fact. The first is, 
that the law is no longer presented as an immutable 
and undisputable formula. As it becomes a human 
work, it is ackowledged to be subject to change. The 
Twelve Tables say, « What the votes of the people have 


ordained in the last instance is the law." ' Of «11 the 
passages of this code that remain to us, there is not 
one more important than this, or one which belter 
marks the character of the revolution that had then 
taken place in the law. The law was no longer a sa- 
cred tradition — mos ; it was simply a text — kx; and 
as the will of men had made it, the same will could 
change it. 

The other consequence is this: The law, which be- 
fore had been a part of religion, and was consequently 
the patrimony of the sacred families, was now trie com- 
mon property of all the citizens. The plebeian could 
plead in the courts. At most, the Roman patrician, 
more tenacious or more cunning than the Eupatrid of 
Athens, atternpted to conceal the legal procedure from 
the multitude; but even these forms were not long in 
being revealed. 

Thus the law was changed in its nature. From that 
time it could no longer contain the same provisions 
as in the preceding period. So long as i-eligion had 
controlled it, it had regulated the relations of men to 
each other according to the principles of this religion. 
But the inferior class, who brought other principles 
into the city, understood nothing either of the old 
rules of the right of property, or of the ancient right of 
succession, or of the absolute authority of the father, or 
of the relationship of agnation, and wished to do aw?y 
with all that. 

This transformation of the law, it is true, could not. 
be accomplished at once. If it is sometimes possible 
for man quickly to change his political institutions, he 
cannot change his legislation and his private law ex- 

' tivy, VII. 17; IX. 33, 34. 


cept slowly and by degi-ees. The history of Roman 
law, as Well as that of Atheniati law, pi'oves this. 

The Twelve Tables, as we have seen above, were 
written in the midst of social changes ; patricians made 
them, bflt they were made upon the demand of the 
plebs, and for theh- use. This legislation, therefore, is 
no longer the primitive law of Rome ; neither is it 
jiretorian law ; it is a transition between the two. 

Here, then, are the points in which it does not yet 
deviate from the antique law : it maintains the power 
of the father; it allows him to pass judgment upon his 
son, to condemn him to death, or to sellhim. While 
the father lives, the son never reaches his majority. 
As to tlie law of Buccession, this also follows the an- 
cient rules : the inheritance passes to the agnates, and 
in default of agnates, to the genMles. As to the cog- 
nates, that is to say, those related through females, the 
law does not yet recognize them. They do not inherit 
from each other ; the mother does not Bueteed to the 
son, nor the son to the mother.' • 

Emancipation and adoption preserve the character 
and efiects which these acts had in antique law. The 
emancipated son no longer takes part in the worship 
of his family, and, as a consequence, he loses the right 
of Succession. 

The following points are those on which this legisla- 
tion deviates from piimitive law : — 

It formally admits that the patrimony may be 
divided among the brothers, since it grants the actio 
familicB erciacundce* 

It declares that the father cannot sell his son more 

» Gains, III. 17, 24. Ulpian, XVI. 4. Cicero, De Imiint., 
II. 60. * Gaius, III. 19. 


than three times, and that after the third sale, the son 
shall be free.' This is the first blow struck by Roman 
law at the paternal autliority. 

Another change still more important was that which 
gave a man the right to transmit his property by will. 
Before this period the son was a self-successor and a 
necessary : in default of sons, the nearest agnate in- 
herited ; in default of agnates, the property returned 
to the gens, a tr.nce of the time when the gens, still 
undivided, was sole proprietor of the domain, which 
afterwards had been divided. The Twelve Tables 
threw aside those old principles ; they treated property 
as belonging, not to the gens, but to the individual ; 
they therefore recognized in man the right of disposi^'g 
of his property by will. 

Still the will was not entirely unknown in primitive 
law. Even then a man might choose a legatee outside 
the gens, but on the condition that his choice should 
be ratified by the assembly of the curies; so that noth- 
ing less than the entire city could change the order 
which religion had formerly established. The new 
legislation freed the will from this vexatious rule, and 
gave it a more convenient form — that of a pretended 
sale. The man feigned to sell his property to the one 
whom he had chosen as heir; in reality, he made a 
will ; in this case be had no need of appearing before 
the assembly of the people. 

This form of will had the great advantage of being 
permitted to the plebeians. He who had nothing in 
common with the curies, had, up to that time, found 
no means of making a will.' But now be could employ 

» Digest, X. tit. 2, 1. 

• There was, indeed, tlie testament in procinctu, but we aro 


the process of a pretended sale, and dispose of his prop- 
erty. The most remarkable fact in this period of the 
history of Roman legislation is, that by the introduc- 
tion of certain new forms, the law extended its action 
and its benefits to the inferior orders. Ancient rules 
and formalities had only been applicable and wf ro atill 
applied only to religious families; but new rules ind 
new methods of procedure were prepared which were 
applicable to the plebeians. 

For the same reason, and in' consequence of the same 
needs, innovations were introduced into that part of 
the law which related to marriage. It is clear that the 
plebeian families did not contract the sacred marriage, 
and that for them the conjugal union rested only upon 
the mutual agreement of the parties (muftms con- 
sensus), and on the affection which they had promised 
each other (affectio maritalis). No formality, religious 
or civil, took place. This plebeian marriage finally 
prevailed in custom and in law ; but in the beginning 
the laws of the patrician city did not recognize it as at 
all binding. This fact had important consequences; 
as the marital and paternal authority in the eyes of the 
patricians flowed only from the religious ceremony 
which had initiated the wife into the worship of the 
husband, it followed that the plebeian had not this 
power. The law recognized no family as his, and for 
him private law did not exist. This was a situation 
that could not last. A formality was therefore devised 
for the use of the plebeians, which, in civil affairs, had 
the same effect as the sacred marriage. They had 
recourse, as in case of the will, to a fictitious sale. 

not well informed as to this sort of will ; perliaps it was to the 
testament calaiis comiiiis what the assembly by centuries was to 
the assembly by curies. 


The wife was bought by the husband — coemptio / from 
that time she was recognized in law as a pai-t of his 
property — familia. She was in his hands, and ranked 
as his daughter, absolutely as if the religious ceremony 
had been performed.' 

We cannot affii'm that this proceeding was not older 
tlian the Twelve Tables. It ia at least certain that the 
new legislation recognized it as legitimate. It thus 
gave the plebeian a private law, which was analogous 
in its effects to the law of the patricians^ though it 
differed widely in principle. ZFsus con-esponds to 
coemptio j these are two forras of the same act. Evei'y 
object may be acquired in either of two ways — by 
purchase or by use ; the same is the case with the 
fictitious property in the wife. Use here was one 
year's cohabitation ; it established between husband 
and wife the same legal ties as purchase or the reli- 
gious ceremony. It is hardly necessary to add that 
the cohabitation was to be preceded by marriage, at 
least by the plebeian marriage, which was contracted 
by the consent and affection of the parties. Neither 
the coemptio nor the usus created a moral union be- 
tween husband and wife. They came after marriage — 
merely established a legal right. These were not, as 
has been too often repeated, modes of nlairiage ; they 
were only means of acquiring the maritkl and paternal 

But the marital authority of ancient times had con- 
sequences, which, at the epoch of history to which we 
have arrived, began to appear excessive. We have 

' Gains, I. 114. 

" Gaius, I. Ill; qua anno continuo vnPTX perseverabat. So 
little was the coemptio a mode of marriage that a wife might 
contract it with another besides her husband — with a guardian, 
tor example. 


seen that the wife was subjected without reserve to the 
husband, and that the power of the latter went so far 
that he could alienate or sell her.' In another point of 
view the power of the husband also produced effects 
which the good sense of, the plebeian could hardly 
comprehend. Thus the woman placed in the hands of 
her husband was separated absolutely from her pater- 
nal family. She inherited none of its property, and 
had no tie of relationship with it in the eyes of the 
lav.'. This was very well in primitive law, when reli- 
gion forbade the same person to belong to two gentes, 
or to sacrifice at two hearths, or inherit from two 
houses. But the power of the husband was no longer 
conceived to be so great, and there were several excel- 
lent motives for wishing to escape these hard conse- 
quences. The code of the Twelve Tables, while 
providing that a year's cohabitation should put the 
wife in the husband's power, was compelled to leave 
him the liberty of contracting a union less binding. 
If each year the wife interrupted the cohabitation by 
an absence of no more than three nights, it was suffi- 
cient to prevent the husband's poweT from being estab- 
lished. Thus the wife pTeserved a legal conneotioil 
with her own family, and could inherit from it. 

Without entering into further details, we see that 
the code of the Twelve Tables already departed con- 
siderably from primitive law. Roman legislation was 
transformed with the govern meat and the social state. 

• Gaius, I. 117, 118. That this mancipation was merely 
fictitious in Gaius's time, is beyond doubt; but it was, perhaps, 
real in tlie beginning. The case was not the same, moreover, 
with the marriage by simple eonsensvs as with the sacred mar- 
riage, which established between husband and wife an indissolu- 
ble bond. 



Little by little, and in almost every generation, some 
new change took place. As the lower classes pro- 
gressed in political order, new modifications were 
introduced into the rules of law. First, marriage was 
permitted between patrician and plebeian. Next, it 
was the Papirian law which forbade the debtor to 
l)ledge his person to the creditor. The procedure be- 
came simplified, greatly to the advantage of the plebe. 
ian, by the abolition of the actions of the law. Finally, 
the pretor, continuing to advance in the road which 
the Twelve Tables liad opened, traced out, by the side 
of the ancient law, an entirely new system, which re- 
ligion did not dictate, and which approached contin- 
ually nearer to the law of nature. 

An analogous revolution appears in Athenian law. 
We know that two codes were prepared at Athens, 
with an interval of thirty years between them ; the 
first by Draco, the second by Solon. 

The code of Draco was written when the struggle 
of the two classes was at its height, and before the 
Eupatrids were vanquished. Solon prepared his at the 
moment when the inferior class gained the upper hand. 
The difi^erence between these codes, therefore, is 

Draco was a Enpatrid ; he had all the sentiments of 
his caste, and was " learned in the religious law." He 
appears to have done no more than to reduce the old 
customs to writing without in any way changing them. 
His first law is this : " Men should honor the gods and 
heroes of the country, and ofier them annual sacrifices, 
without deviating from the rites followed by our ances- 
tors." Memorials of his laws concerning murder have 
been preserved. They prescribe that the guilty one 
shall be kept out of the temple, and forbid him to 


touch the histral water, or the vessels used in the 

His laws appeared cruel to succeeding generations. 
They were, indeed, dictated by an implacable reli- 
gion, which saw in every fault an offence against the 
divinity, and in every offence against the divinity an 
unpardonable crime. Theft was punished with death, 
because theft was an attempt against the religion of 

A curious article of this legislation which has been 
preserved shows in what spirit it was made.'' It grants 
the right of prosecution for a murder only to the rela- 
tives of the dead and the members of his gens. We 
see by this how powerful the gens still was at that 
period, since it did not permit the city to interfere in 
its affairs, even to avenge it. A man still belonged to 
the family more than to the city. 

In all that has come down to us of this legislation 
we see that it does no more than reproduce the ancient 
law. It had the severity and inflexible character of 
the old unwritten law. We can easily believe that it 
established a very broad distinction between the 
classes ; for the inferior class always detested it, and at 
the end of thirty years demanded a new code. 

The code of Solon is entirely different ; we can see 
that it corresponded to a great social revolution. The 
first peculiarity that we remark in it is, that the laws 
are the same for all. They establish no distinction be- 
tween the Eupatrids, the simple free men, and the 
Thetes. These names are not even found in any of the 
articles that have been preserved. Solon boasts in his 

' Aulus Gellius, XI. 18. Demosthenea, in Ltpt., 158. Por- 
phyry, De AbstinenUa, IX. 
^ Demosthenes, in Everg., 71 ; in Macart,, 67. 


verses of having written the same laws for the great 
and the small. 

Like the Twelve Tables, the code of Solon departed 
in many points fi-om the ancient law; on other points 
he remained faithful to it. This is not to say that the 
Roman decemvirs copied the laws of Athens, but the 
two codes, works of the same period and consequences 
of the same social revolution, could not but resemble 
each other. Still, this resemblance is little more than 
in the spirit of the two codes ; a comparison of their 
articles presents numerous differences. There are points 
on which the code of Solon remains nearer to primitive 
law than the Twelve Tables, as there are others on 
which he departs more widely fi-om it. 

The very early laws had prescribed that the eldest son 
alone should inherit. The code of Solon changed this, 
and prescribed in formal terms that the brothers should 
share the patrimony. But the legislator did not depart 
from primitive law enough to give the sister a part in 
the inheritance. "The division," he says, "shall be 
among the sons." ' 

Further, if a father left only a daughter, this daugh- 
ter could not inherit ; the property fell to the nearest 
agnate. In this Solon conformed to the old law ; but 
he succeeded in giving the daughter the enjoyment of 
the patrimony by compelling the heir to marry her.° 
Relationship through women was unknown in the 
primitive law. Solon admitted it in the new code, but 
placed it below the relationship through males. Here 
is his law :" " If a father leaves only a daughter, the 
nearest agnate inherits by marrying the daughter. If 

> Isseus, VI. 26. * Isseus, III. 42. 

» Isseus, VII. 19; XI. U 11. 


he leaves no children, liis brothei* inherits, and not his 
sister, — his brother by the same father, and not his 
uterine brother. In default of brothers and the sons 
of brothers, the succession falls to the sister. If there 
are neither brothers, nor sisters, nor nephews, the cous- 
ins and the children of cousins inhierit. If no cousins 
are found in the paternal branch (that is to say, among 
the agnates), the succession is conferred on the collater- 
als of the maternal branch (the cognates)." Thus 
women began to enjoy rights of inheritance, but 
rights inferior to those of men. The law formally de- 
clared this principle : " Mak's and the descendants 
through males exclude women and the descendants of 
women." But this sort of i-elationship was recognized 
and took its i)lace in the laws — a certain proof that 
natural right began to speak almost as loud as the an- 
cient religion. 

Solon also introduced into Athenian legislation some- 
thing entirely new — the will. Before hira property 
passed necessarily to the nearest agnate, or, in default 
of agnates, to the gennetes {gentiles) ; this was because 
goods were considered as belonging, not to the indi- 
vidual, but to the family. But in Solon's time men be- 
gan to take another view of the right of property. The 
dissolution of the old ysco; had made every domain the 
property of an individual. The legislator therefore 
permitted them to dispose of their fortunes, and to 
choose their legatees. Still, while suppressing the 
rights which the yipog had over each of its members, he 
did not suppress the rights of the natural family, ■ — the 
son remained the necessary heir. If the deceased left 
only a daughter, he qould choose his heir only on con- 
dition that this heir should marry the daughter. A 


man without children was free to will his property ac- 
cording to his fancy.' 

This last rule was absolutely new in Athenian legis- 
lation, and we can see by this how many new ideas 
concerning the family sprang up at that time. 

The primitive religion had given the father sovereign 
authority in his own house. The ancient law of Athens 
went so far as to permit a father to sell his son, or to 
put him to death.' Solon, conforming to new manners, 
limited this power.' It is certainly known that he for- 
bade a father to sell his daughter, and it is probable 
that the same injunction protected the son. The pa- 
ternal authority went on diminishing as the ancient 
religion lost its power, — an event which happened 
earlier at Athens than at Rome. The Athenian law, 
therefore, was not satisfied to say, like the Twelve Ta- 
bles, " After a triple sale, the son shall be free." It 
permitted the son, on reaching a certain age, to escape 
from the paternal power. Custom, if not the laws, 
insensibly came to establish the. majority of the son 
during the lifetime of his father. There was an Athe- 
nian law which enjoined the son to support his father 
when old or infirm. Such a law necessarily indicates 
that the son might own property, and consequently 
that he was freed from parental authority. This law 
did not exist at Rome, because the son never possessed 
anything, and always remained a minor. 

As for females, the law of Solon still conformed to 
the earlier law, when it forbade her to make a will be- 
cause a woman was never a real proprietor, and could 
have only the usufruct. But it deviated from the an- 

• Isseus, III. 41, 68, 73 ; VI. 9 ; X. 9, 13. Plutarch, Solon, 21. 

* Plutarch, &olon, 13. ' Plutarch, Solon, 23. 


cient code when it permitted women to claim their 

There were still other innovations in this code. In 
opposition to Draco, who permitted only the family of 
the victim to prosecute one for a crime, Solon granted 
this right to every citizen.' Here was one more old pa 
triarchal right abolished. 

Thus at Athens, as at Rome, law began to undergo, 
a change. For the new social state a new code spraiig 
up. Beliefs, manners, and institutions having been 
modified, laws which had before appeared just and wise 
ceased to appear so, and by slow degrees were abolished. 


New FriucipleB of Government. The Public Interest and 
the Suf&age. 

The revolution which overthrew the rule of the sacei*- 
dotal class, and raised the lower class to a level with 
the ancient chiefs of gentes, marked a new period in 
the history of cities. A sort of social reconstruction 
was accomplished. It was not simply replacing one 
chiss of men in power by another. Old principles had 
been thrust aside, and new rules adopted that were to 
govern human societies. The new city, it is true, pre- 
served the exterior forms of the preceding period. Tiie 
republican system remained; almost everywhere the 

' Isaeus, VII. 24, 25. Dion Chrysostomus, Ilsgl aniaxia;. 
Harpooration, Jli^a fuSlfivov, Demosthenes, in Evergum ; in 
Bceotum de dote ; in Nearam, 51, 62. 

« Plutarch, Solon, 18. 


magistrates preserved their ancient names. Athens 
still had its archons, and Rome its consuls. "Nor was 
anything changed in the ceremonies of the public re- 
ligion ; the repasts of the prytaneum, the sacrifices at 
the opening of the public assembly, the auspices and 
the pr.ayers, — all were preserved. It is quite common 
with man, when he rejects old institutions, to wish to 
preserve their exterior forms. 

In reality all was changed. Neither institutions, nor 
laws, nor beliefs, nor manners were in this new period 
what they had been in the preceding. The old system 
disappeared, cariying with it the rigorous rules which 
it had established in all things; a new order of things 
was established, and human life changed its aspect. 

During long ages religion had been the sole princi- 
ple of governmtut. Another principle had to be found 
capable of I'eplacing it, and which, like it, might gov- 
ern human institutions, and keep them as much as pos- 
sible clear of fluctuations and conflicts. The principle 
upon which the governments of cities were founded 
thenceforth was public interest. 

We must observe this new dogma which then made 
its appearance in the minds of .men and in history. 
Heretofore the supeiior rule whence social order was 
derived was not interest, but religion. The duty of 
performing the rites of worship had been the social 
bond. From this religious necessity were derived, for 
some the right to command, for others the obligation to 
obey. From this had come the rules of justice and of 
legal procedure, those of public deliberations and those 
of war. Cities did not ask if the institutions which they 
adopted were useful; these institutions were adopted 
because religion had wished it thus. Neither interest 
nor convenience had contributed to establish them. 


And if the sacerdotal class had tried to defend tlieni, it 
was not in the name of the public interest; it was in 
the name of religious tradition. But in the period 
which we now enter, tradition no longer holds empire, 
and religion no longer governs. The regulating prin- 
ciple from which all institutions now derive their au- 
thority — the only one which is above individual willsj 
and which obliges tbem all to submit — is public inter- 
est. What the Latins call res puhlica, the Greeks 
T(') xoivAf, replaces the old religion. This is what, from 
this time, establishes institutions and laws, and by this 
all the important acts of cities are judged. In the de- 
liberations of senates, or of popnlar assemblies, when a 
law is discussed, or a form of government, or a question 
of private right, or a political institution, no one any 
longer asks what religion prescribes, but what the gen- 
eral interest demands. 

A saying is attributed to Solon which well charac- 
terizes this new regime. Some one asked him if he 
had given his country the best constitution. " No," he 
replied, "but the one which is the best suited to it." Now 
it was something quite new to expect in forms of gov- 
ernment, and in laws, only a relative merit. The an- 
cient constitutions, founded upon the rules of a worship, 
were proclaimed infallible and immutable. They pos- 
sessed the rigor and inflexibility of the religion. Solon 
indicated by this answer that, in future, political con- 
stitutions should conform to the wants, the manners, 
and the interests of the men of each age. There was 
no longer a question of absolute truth; the rules of 
government were for the future to be flexible and va- 
riable. It is said that Solon wished at the most that 
his laws might be observed for a hundred years. 

The precepts of public interest ai'e not bo absolute* 


SO clear, so manifest, as are those of religion. We may 
always discuss them ; they are not perceived at once. 
The way that appeared the simplest and surest to know 
■what the public inierest demanded was to assemble the 
citizens, and consult them. This course was thought 
to be necessary, and was almost daily employed. In 
the preceding period the auspices had borne the chief 
weight of the deliberations ; the opinion of the priest, 
of the king, of the sacred magistrate was all-powerful. 
Men voted little, and then rather as a ibi-mality than 
to express an opinion. After that time they voted on 
every question; the opinion of all was needed in order 
to know what was for the interest of all. The suffrage 
.became the great means of government. It was the 
source of institutions and the rule of right; it decided 
what was useful and even what was just. It was 
above the magistrates and above the laws; it was sov- 
ereign in the city. 

The nature of government was also changed. Its 
essential function was no longer the regular perform- 
ance of religious ceremonies. It was especially consti- 
tuted to maintain order and peace within and dignity 
and power without. What had before been of secon- 
dary importance was now of the fiist. Politics took 
precedence of religion, and the government of men be- 
came a human affair. It consequently happened either 
that new offices were created, or, .at any rate, that old 
ones assumed a new character. We can see this by 
the example of Athens, and by that of Rome. At 
Athens, during the domination of the aristocracy, the 
archons had been especially priests. The care of de- 
ciding causes, of administering the law, and of making 
war was of minor importance, and might, without in- 
convenience, be joined to the priesthood. When the 


Athenians rejected the old religious form of goTeni- 
ment, they did not suppress the archonship, for they 
had an extreme repugnance to abolishing what was 
ancient. But by the side of the archons they elected 
other magistrates, who, by the nature of their duties, 
corresponded better with the wants of the age. These 
were the strategi. The word signifies chief of the 
army, but the authority of these officers was not purely 
military; they had the care of the relations with other 
cities, of the finances, and of whatever concerned the 
police of the city. We may say that the archons had 
in their hands the state religion and all that related to 
it, and that the strategi had the political power. The 
archons preserved the authority such as the ancient 
ages had conceived it; the strategi had what new 
wants had cawsed to be established. Pinally a time 
came when the archons had only the semblance of 
power, and the stategi had all the reality. These new 
magistrates were no longer priests; they hardly per- 
formed the ceremonies that were indispensable in time 
of war. The government tended more and more to 
free itself from religion. The strategi might be chosen 
outside the Eupatrids. In tlie examination which they 
had to undergo before they were appointed (doxifiualu^, 
they were not asked, as the archons were, if they had a 
domestic worship, and if they were of a pure family ; 
it was sufficient if thej' had always performed their du- 
ties as citizens, and held real property in Attica.' The • 
ai'chons were designated by lot, — that is to say, by the 
voice of the gods ; it was otherwise with the strategi. 
As the government became more difficult and more 
eomplieated, as piety was no longer the principal qual- 

> Oeinarchus, I. 171 (coU. Didot). 


ity, and as skill, prudence, couvage, and the art of com- 
manding became necessary, men no longer believed the 
choice by lot was suflScient to make a good magistrate. 
The city uo longer desired to be bound by the pre- 
tended will of the gods, and claimed to have a free 
choice of its chiefs. That the archon, who was a priest, 
should be designated by the gods, was natural; but 
the strategus, who held in his hands the material in- 
terests of the city, was better elected by the citizens. 

If we closely observe the institutions of Rome, we 
see that changes of the same kind were going on there. 
On the one hand, the tribunes of the people so aug- 
mented their importance that the direction of the re- 
public — at least, whatever related to internal affairs — 
finally belonged to them. Now, those tribunes who 
had no priestly character bore a great resemblance to 
the Btrategi. On the other hand, the consulship itself 
could subsist only by changing its character. What- 
ever was sacerdotal in it was by degrees effaced. The 
respect of the Romans for the traditions and forms of 
the past required, it is true, that the consul should con- 
tinue to perform the ceremonies instituted by their 
ancestors ; but we can easily understand that, the day 
when plebeians became consuls, these ceremonies were 
no longer anything more than vain formalities. The 
consulship was less and less a priesthood, and more and 
more a command. This transformation was slow, in- 
■ sensible, unpercei^ed, but it was not the less complete. 
The consulship was certainly not, in the time of the 
Scipios, what it had been in Publicola's day. The 
military tribuneship, which the senate instituted in 
443, and about which the ancients give us very little 
information, was perhaps the transition between the 
consulship of the first period and that of the second. 


We may also remark that there was a change in the 
manner of nominating the consuls. Indeed, in the first 
ages, the vote of the centuries in the election of the 
magistrates was, as we have seen, a mere formality. 
In reality, the consul of each year was created by the 
consul of the preceding year, who transmitted the au- 
spices to him after having obtained the assent of the 
gods. The centuries voted on the two or three candi- 
dates presented, by the consul in office; there was no 
debate. The people might detest a candidate; but 
they were none the less compelled to vote for him. In 
the period at which we have now arrived, the election 
is quite different, although the forms are still the same. 
There is still, as formerly, a religious ceremony and a 
vote ; but the religions ceremony is the formality, and 
the vote is the reality. The candidate is still presented 
by the consul who presides ; but the consul is obliged', 
if not by law, at least by custom, to accept all candi- 
dates, and to declare that the auspices are equally 
favorable to all. Thus the centuries name those whom 
they honor. The election no longer belongs to the 
gods ; it is in the hands of the people. The gods and 
the auspices are no longer consulted, except on the con- 
dition that they will be impartial towards all the caudi- 
d!]tes. Men make the choice. 



An Aristocracy of Wealth attempts to establish itsel£ 
Establishment of Democracy. Fourth Sevolution. 

The government which succeeded to the rnle of the 
religions aristocracy was not at first a democracy. We 
liave seen, from the example of Athens and Rome, that 
the revolution which took place was not the work of 
the lowest classes. There were, indeed, some cities 
where these classes rose first ; but they could found 
nothing durable. The protracted disorders into which 
Syracuse, Miletus, and Samos fell are a proof of this. 
The new governments were not established with any so- 
lidity, except where a class was at once found to take in 
hand, for a time, the power and moral authority which 
the Eupatrids and the patricians had lost. What could 
this new aristocracy be ? The hereditary religion be- 
ing thrown aside, there was no longer any other social 
distinction than wealth. Men demanded, therefore, 
that wealth should establish rank ; for they could not 
admit at once that equality should be absolute. 

Thus Solon did not think best to do away with 
the ancient distinction founded on hereditary religion, 
except by establishing a new division, which should be 
founded on riches. He divided the citizens into four 
ramks, and gave them unequal rights ; none but the 
rich could hold the highest oflices ; none below the two 
intermediate classes could belong to the senate, or sit 
in the tribunals.' 

' Plutarch, Solon, 18; Aristides, 13. Aristotle, cited by 
HarpocratioUj at the words 'InTiti;, 0ijres. Pollux, VIII. 129. 


The case ■was the same at Rome, We have seen 
that Servius destroyed the power of the patricians only 
by founding a rival aristocracy. He created twelve 
centuries of knights, chosen from the richest plebeians. 
This was the origin of the equestrian order, which was 
from that time the rich order at Rome. The plebeians 
who did not possess the sum required for a knight were 
divided into five classes, according to the amount of 
their fortunes. The poorest people were left out of 
all the classes. They had no political rights ; if they 
figured in the comitia by centuries, it is certain that 
they did not vote.' The republican constitution pre- 
served these distinctions, established by a king, and the 
plebeians did not at first appear very desirous of estab- 
lishing equality among themselves. 

What is seen so clearly at Athens and at Rome 
appears in almost all the other cities. At Cumse, for 
example, political rights were given at first only to 
those who, owning horses, formed a sort of equestrian 
order; later, those who ranked next below them in 
wealth obtained the same rights, and this last measure 
raised the number of citizens only to one thousand. 
At Rhegium the government was for along time in the 
hands of a thousand of the wealthiest men of the city. 
At Thurii, a large fortune was necessary to enable one 
to make a part of the body politic. We see clearly iu 
the poetry of Theognis that at Megara, after the fall of 
the nobles, the wealthy took their places. At Thebes, 
in order to enjoy the rights of a citizen, one could be 
neither an artisan nor a merchant,' 

Thus the political rights which, in the preceding 

' Liv7, 1. 43. 

» Aristotle, Polities, III. 3, 4; VI. 4, 5 (edit. Didot). 


epoch, belonged to birth, were, during some timcj en- 
joyed by fortune alone. This aristctaracy of wealth 
was established in all the cities, not by any calculation, 
but by the very nature of the human mind, which, 
escaping from a regime of great inequality, could not 
arrive at once at complete equality. 

We have to remark that these new nobles did not 
found their superiority simply upon wealth. Every- 
where their ambition was to become the military class. 
They undertook to defend the city at the same time 
that they governed it. They reserved for themselves 
the best arms and the greater part of the perils in bat- 
tle, desiring to imitate in this the nobility which they 
had replaced. In all the cities the wealthiest men 
formed the cavalry, the well-to-do class composed the 
body of hoplites, or legionaries. The poor were ex- 
cluded from the army, or at most they were employed 
as skirmishers or light-armed soldiers, or among the 
rowers of the fleet.' Thus the organization of the army 
corresponded with perfect exactitude to the political 
organization of the city. The dangers were propor- 
tioned to the privileges, and the material strength was 
found in the same hands as the wealth.' 

' Lycias, in Alcib., I. 8 ; II. 7. Isaeus, "VII. 39. Xenophon, 
ITellen., VII. 4. Harpocration, ©ijrts. 

' The relation between military service and political rights is 
manifest : at Rome the centuriate assembly was no other tbap 
the army. So true is this, that men who had passed the age for 
military service no longer had the right to vote in these coniitia. 
Historians do not tell us that there was a similar law at Athens ; 
but there are figures that are significant. Thucydidcs says 
(II. 31, 13) that at the beginning of the war, Athens had thirteen 
thousand hoplites ; if to these we add the knights, numbered by 
Aristophanes (in the Wasps) at about a thousand, we arrive at 
the number of fourteen thousand soldiers. Now, Plutarch tells 


There was thus, in almost all the cities whose history 
is known to us, a period during which the rich claiss, or 
at any rate the well-to-do class, was in possession of 
the government. This political system had its merits, 
as every system may have, when it conforms to the 
manners of the epoch, and the religious ideas are not 
opposed to it. The sacerdotal nobility of the preceding 
period had assuredly rendered great services. They 
were the first to establish laws and found regular gov- 
ernments. They had enabled human societies to live, 
daring several centuries, with calmness and dignity. 
The aristocracy .of wealth had another merit ; it im- 
pressed upon society and the minds of men a new 
impulse. Having sprung from labor in all its forms, 
it' honored and stimulated the laborer. This new gov- 
el-nment gave the most political i-mportajiee to, the most 
laborious, the most active, or the most skilful man; 
it was, thei-efore, favorable to industry and commerce. 
It was also favorable to intellectual progress; for the 
acquisition of this wealth, which was gained or lost, 
ordinarily, according to each one's merit, made instruc- 
tion the first need, and intelligence the most powerful 
spring of human aflfairs. We are not, therefore, sui-prised 
that under this government Greece and Rome enlarged 
tlie limits of their intellectual culture, and advanced 
their civilization. 

The rich class did not hold the empire so long as the 
ancient hereditary nobility had held it. Their title to 
dominion was not of the same value. They had not 
the sacred character with which the ancient Eupatrid 

US, that at the Banie date there were fourteen thousand citizens. 
The proletariat, therefore, who could not serve among the 
hoplites, were not counted among the citizens. 'The Athenian 
constitution, then, in 480 was npt yet completely democratic. 


was clothed. They did not rule by virtue of a belief 
and by the will of the gods. They had no quality that 
had power over consciences, that compelled men to 
submit. Man is little inclined to bow, except before 
what he believes to be right, or before what his notions 
teach him is far above him. He had long been made 
to bend before the religious superiority of the Eupatrid, 
who repeated the prayers and possessed the gods. But 
wealth did not overawe him. In presence of wealth, 
the most ordinary sentiment is not respect; it is envy. 
The political inequality that resulted from the difference 
of fortunes soon appeared to be an iniquity, and men 
strove to abolish it. 

Besides, the seiies of revolutions, once commenced, 
could not be arrested. The old principles were over- 
turned, and there were no longer either traditions or 
fixed rules. There was a general sense of the insta- 
bility of affairs, which ])revented any constitution from 
enduring for any great length of time. The new aris- 
tocracy was attacked, as the old had been ; the poor 
wished to be citizens, and in their turn began to make 
efforts to enter the body politic. 

It is impossible to enter into the details of this new 
struggle. The history of cities, as it gets farther from 
their origin, becomes more and more diversified. They 
follow the same series of revolutions ; but these revolu- 
tions appear under a great variety of forms. We can, 
at any rate, make this remark — that in the cities where 
the principal element of wealth was the possession of 
the soil, the rich class was longer respected, and held 
its dominion longer ; and that, on the contrary, in cities 
like Athens, where there were few landed estates, and 
where men became rich especially by industry, man- 
ufactures, and commerce, the instability of fortunes 


sooner awakened the cupidity or hopes of the lower 
orders, and the aristocracy was sooner attacked. 

The rich class of Rome offered a much stronger re- 
sistance than that of Greece ; this was due to causes 
which we shall state presently. But when we read 
Grecian history, we are somewhat surprised that the 
new nobles defended themselves so feebly. True, they 
could not, like the Eupatrids, oppose to their adversa- 
ries the great and powerful argument of tradition and 
piety. They could not call to their aid their ancestor 
and the gods. They had no point of support in their 
own religious notions; nor had they any faith in the 
justice of their privileges. 

They had, indeed, superiority in arras ; but this su- 
periority finally failed them. The constitutions which 
the states adopted would have lasted longer, no doubt, 
if each state could have remained isolated, or, at least, 
if it could have lived in peace. But war deranges the 
machinery of constitutions, and hastens changes. Now, 
between these cities of Greece and Italy war was al- 
most perpetual. Military service weighed most heavily 
upon the rich class, as this class occupied the front rank 
in battle. Often, at the close of a campaign, they re- 
turned to the city decimated and weakened, and con- 
sequently not prepared to make head against the popu- 
lar party. At Tarentum, for example, the higher class 
having lost the greater part of its members in a war 
against the lapygians, a democratic government was 
at once established in the city. The course of events 
was the same at Argos, some thirty years before ; at 
the close of an unsuccessful war . against the Spartans, 
the number of real citizens had become so small that 
it was found necessary to grant the rights of citizens to 


a multitude of JPerioeeV It was to aToid falling into 
this extremity that Sparta was so sparing of the 
blood of the real Spartans. As to Rome, its revolu- 
tions are explainedj in a great measure, by its con- 
tinual wars. Fii'St, war destroyed its patricians ; of 
the three hundred families which this caste comprised 
under the kings, there remained hardly a third pai-t, 
after the conquest of Samnium. War afterwards har- 
vested the primitive plebeians, those rich and coura- 
geous plebeians who filled the five classes and formed 
the legions. 

One of the effects of war was that the cities were 
almost always brought to the strait of putting arras 
into the hands of the lower orders. It was in this 
way that at Athens, and in all the maritime cities, the 
need of a navy and the battles upon the water gave 
the poor class that importance which the constitution 
refused them. The Thetes, raised to the rank of row- 
ers, of sailors, and even of soldiers, and holding in their 
hands the safety of their country, felt their importance, 
and took courage. Such was the origin of the Athe- 
nian democracy. Sparta was afraid of war. We 
can see in Thucydides how slow she was, and how 
nnwilling, to commence a campaign. She allowed her- 
self to be dragged, in spite of herself, into the Pelopon- 
nesian war; but how many eflforts she made to with- 
draw ! This was because she was forced to arm her 
■i-nafielovsg, her Neodamodes, her Mothaces, her La- 
conians, and even her Helots; she well knew that every 
war, by giving arms to the classes that she was op- 
pressing, threatened her with revolution, and that she 
would be compelled,' on disbanding the army, either to 

' Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 2, 8 (V. 2). 


submit to the law of her Helots or to find means to 
have them massacred without disturbance. The ple- 
beians calumniated the Roman senate when they re- 
proached it with always seeking new wars. The sen- 
ate was too wise for that. It knew how many conces- 
sions and checks in the forum- its wars cost. But it 
could not avoid them. 

It is therefore beyond a doubt that war slowly les- 
sened the distance which the aristocracy of wealth had 
placed between itself and the lower orders. Thus it 
soon happened that constitutions were found to be at 
disaccord with the social state, aiid required modifica- 
tion. Besides, it must have been seen that all privi- 
leges were necessarily in contradiction to the principle 
which then govei'ned men. The public interest was 
not a principle that could long authorize an inequality 
among them. It inevitably conducted societies to a 

So true is this, that a little sooner, or a little later, it 
was necessary to give all free men political ri^ts. As 
soon as the Roman plebeians wished to hold comitia of 
their own, they were constrained to admit the lowest 
class, and could not hold to the division into classes. 
Most of the cities thus saw real popular assemblies 
formed and universal suffrage established. 

Now, the right of suffrage had at that time a value 
iiicomparably greater than it can have in modern states. 
By means of it the last of the citizens had a hand in 
all affairs, elected magistrates, made laws, decided 
cases, declared for war or pisace, and prepared ti-eaties 
of alliance. This extension of the right of snffrage, 
therefore, made the government really democratic. 

We must make a last remark. The ruling class 
would perhaps have avoided the advent of democracy 


if they had been able to found what Thucydides calls 
bUyaqxia lodvojiog, — that is to say, the government for 
a few, and liberty for all. But the Greeks had not a 
clear idea of liberty; individual liberty never had any 
guarantee among them. We leam from Thucydides, 
who certainly is not suspected of too much zeal for dem- 
ocratic government, that under the rule of tlie oligarchy 
the people were subjected to many vexatious, arbitrary 
condemnations, and violent executions. We read in 
this historian "that democi'atic government was needed 
to give the poor a refuge and the rich a check." The 
Greeks never knew how to reconcile civil with politi- 
cal equality. That the poor might be protected in 
their personal interests, it seemed necessary to them 
that they should have the right of suffrage, that they 
should be judges in the tribunal, and that they might 
be elected as magistrates. If we also call to mind that 
among the Greeks the state was an absolute power, 
and that no individual right was of any value against 
it, we can understand what an immense interest evei-y 
man had, even the most humble, in possessing political 
rights, — that is to say, in making a part of the govern- 
ment; the collective sovereign being so omnipotent 
that a man could be nothing unless he was a part of 
this sovereign. His security and his dignity depended 
upon this. He wished to possess political rights, not 
in order to enjoy true liberty, but to have at least what 
might take its place. 



Eules of Democratic Government. Examples of Athe- 
uiau Democracy. 

As the revolutions followed their course, and men 
departed from the ancient system, to govern them be- 
came more difficult. More minute rules, more ma- 
chinery, and that more delicate, became necessary. 
This we can see from the example of the Athenian 

Athens had a great number of magistrates. In the 
first place she had preserved all those of the preceding 
epoch — the archon, who gave his name to the year 
and watched • over the perpetuation of the domestic 
worship ; the king, who performed the sacrifices ; the 
polemarch, who figured as chief of the army, and 
decided the causes of foreigners ; the six thesmothetae, 
who appeared to pass judgment, but who, in reality, 
merely presided over juries : there were also the ten 
iegdnoioi, who consulted the oracles and offered cer- 
tain sacrifices ; the nagiidnni, who accompanied the 
arclion and the king in the ceremonies ; the ten ath- 
lothetse, who remained four years in office . to prepare 
the festival of Bacchus; and, finally, the prytanes, who, 
to the number of fifty, were continually occupied to 
attend to keeping up the public fire and the sacred re- 
pasts. We see from this that Athens remained faith- 
ful to tlie traditions of ancient times. So many revo- 
lutions had not yet completely destroyed this supersti- 
tious respect. No one dared to break with the old 
forms of the national religion ; the democracy contin- 
ued the worship instituted by the Eupatrids. 


Afterwards came the magistrates specially created 
for the democracy, who were not priests, and who 
watched over the material interests of the city. First 
were the strategi, who attended to affairs of war and 
politics; then followed the ten astynomi, who had 
charge of the police; the ten agoranomi, who watched 
over the markets of the city and of the Piraeeus ; the 
fifteen sitophylaces, who superintended the sales of 
grain ; the fifteen metronomi, who controlled weights 
and measures ; ten guards of the treasury ; the ten re- 
ceivers of the accounts ; the eleven who were charged 
with the execution of sentences; In addition to this, the 
greater part of these magistracies were repeated in each 
tribe and in each deme. The smallest group of people 
in Attica had its archon, its priest, its secretary, its re- 
ceiver, its military chief. One could hardly take a 
step in the city or in the country withotit meeting an 

These ofl3ces were annual ; so that there was hardly 
a man who might not hope to fill some one of them in 
his turn. The magistrate-priests were chosen by lot. 
The magistrates who attended^ only to public order 
were elected by the people. Still there was a precau- 
tion against the caprices of the lot, as well as against 
that of universal sufifrage. Every newly elected official 
was subjected to an examination, either before the sen- 
ate, or before the magistrates going out of otRce, or, 
lastly, before the Areopagus — not that they demanded 
proofs of capacity or talent, but an inquiry was made 
concerning the probity of the man, and concerning his 
family ; every magistrate was also required to have a 
property in real estate. 

It would seem that these magistrates, elected by the 
suffrages of their eqnnlsy named for only a single year, 


responsible and even removable, could have had little 
prestige and authority. We need only read Thueydi- 
des and Xenophon, however, to assure ourselves that 
they were respected and obeyed. There was always 
in the character of the ancients, even in that of the 
Athenians, a great facility in submitting to discipline. 
It was perhaps a consequence of the habits of obedi- 
ence with which the religious government had inspired 
them. They were accustomed to respect the state, and 
all those who, in any degree,- represented it. They 
never thought of despising' a magistrate because they 
had elected him ; suffrage was reputed one of the most 
sacred sources of authority. 

Above the magistrates, who had no other duty than 
that of seeing to the execution of the laws, there was 
the senate. It was merely a deliberative body, a sort 
of council of state ; it passed no acts, made no laws, 
exercised no soyereignty. Men saw no inconvenience 
in renewing it every year, for neither superior intelli- 
gence nor great experience was required of its mem- 
bers. It was composed of fifty prytanes from each 
tribe, who performed the sacred duties in turn, and 
deliberated all the year upon the religious and political 
interests of the city. It was probably because the 
senate was only the assembly of the pvy taues, — that 
is to say, of the annual priests of the saoi-ed fii-e, — that 
it was filled by lot. It is but just to say, that after the 
lot had decided, each name was examined, and any 
one was thrown out who did not appear sufficiently 

Above even the senate there was the assembly of 
the people. This was the real sovei-eign. But, jast 

» JBscbines, III. 2 ; Anclocide8> II. X9 ; I. 45-66. 


as in a well-constituted monarchy, the monarch is sur- 
rounded with safeguards against his own caprices and 
errors, this democracy also had invariable rules, to 
which it submitted. 

The assembly was convoked by-the prytanes or the 
strategi. It. was holden in an enclosure consecrated 
by religion ; since morning the priests had walked 
around the Pnyx, immolating victims and calling down 
the protection of the gods. The people were seated 
on stone benches. Upon a soi't of platform were the 
prytanes, and in front of them the proedri, who pre- 
sided over the assembly. An altar stood near the 
speaker's stand, and the stand itself was reckoned a 
sort of altar. When all were seated, a priest (xijgul) 
proclaimed, " Keep silence, religious silence (Bi<prjuiu) ; 
pray the gods and goddesses [here he named the prin- 
cipal divinities of the country] that all may pass most 
prosperously in the assembly for the greatest advan- 
tage of Athens and the happiness of its citizens." 
Then the people, or some one in their name, replied, 
"We invoke the gods that they may protect the city. 
May the advice of the wisest prevail. Cursed be he 
who shall give us bad counsel, who shall attempt to 
change the decrees and the law, or who shall reveal 
our secrets to the enemy." ' 

Then the herald, by order of the presidents, declared 
the subjects with which the assembly was to occupy 
itself. A question, before being presented to the peo- 
ple, was discussed and studied by the senate. The 
people had not what is called, in modern language, the 

' ^schines, I. 23 ; III. 4. Deinarchus, II. 14. Demosthe- 
nes, in Aristocr., 97. Aristophanes, Acharn., 43, 44, and Scho- 
liast, Thismoph., 295-810. 


initiative. The senate offered a draught of a decree (the 
bill) ; the people could reject or adopt it, but could not 
deliberate on any other question. 

When the herald had read the proposed law, the 
discussion was opened. The herald said, "Who 
wishes to speak?" The orators ascended the speak- 
er's stand according to age. Any man could speak, 
without distinction of fortune or profession, but on the 
condition that he had proved that he enjoyed political 
rights, that he was not a debtor to the state, that his 
habits of life were correct, that he was lawfully mar- 
ried, that he was a land-owner in Attica, that he had 
fulfilled all his duties towards his parents, that he had 
taken part in all the military expeditions to which he 
had been assigned, and that he had never thrown his 
shield away in any battle.' 

These precautions against eloquence once taken, the 
people gave themselves entirely up to it. The Athe- 
nians, as Thucydides says, did not believe that words 
could damage actions. On the contrary, they felt the 
need of being enlightened. Politics were no longer, 
as under the preceding government, an affair of tradi- 
tion and faith. Men reflected and weighed reasons. 
Discussion was necessary, for every question was more 
or less obscure, and discussion alone could bring the 
truth to light. The Athenian people desired to have, 
every question presented in all its different phases, and 
to have both sides clearly shown. They made great 
account of their oratoi's, and, it is said, paid them in 
money for every discourse delivered to the people." 

' .Slschines, I. 27-33. Deinarchus, I. 71. 
' At least this is what Aristophanes gives us to understand. 
Wasps, 711 (689). See the Scholiast. 


They did even better; tbey listened to them. For we 
are not to picture to ourselves a noisy and turbulent 
multitude; the attitude of the people was quite the 
contraiy. The comic poet represents them motionless 
upon their stone seats, listening open-mouthed.' His- 
torians and orators frequently describe these popular 
assemblies. "We rarely see an oiator interrupted ; 
whether it was Pericles or Gleon, ^schines or Demos- 
thenes, the people were attentive ; whether the oratora 
flattered them or upbraided them, they listened. They 
allowed the most opposite opinions to be expressed, 
with a patience that was sometimes admirable. There 
were never cries or shouts. The orator, whatever he 
might say, could always reach the end of his discourse. 

At Sparta eloquence was little known. The princi- 
ples of government were not the same. The aristoc- 
racy still governed and had fixed traditions, vchich 
saved the trouble of a long discussion upon every 
question. At Athens the people desired to be in- 
formed. They could decide only after a contradictory 
debate ; they acted only after they had been convinced, 
or thought they had been. To put universal suffrage 
in operation, discussion is necessary; eloquence is the 
spring of democratic government. The orators, there^ 
fore, soon received the title of demagogues, — that is 
to say, of conductors of the city; and indeed they did 
direct its action, and determined all its resolutions. 

The case where an orator should make a proposition 
contrary to existing laws had been anticipated: Athens 
had special magistrates called guardians of the laws. 
Seven in number, they ■watched over the assembly, oc- 
cupying high seats, and seemed to represent the law, 

Aristoplianea, Knights, 1119. 


which was above even the people. If they saw that 
the law was attacked, they stopped the orator in the 
midst of his discourse, and ordered the immediate dis- 
Bolntion of the assembly. The people separated with- 
out having a right to reach a vote.' 

There was a law, little applicable indeed, that pun- 
ished every orator convicted of having given the people 
bad advice. There was another that forbade access to 
the speaker's stand to any orator who had threetimes 
advised resolutions contrary to the existiag laws." 

Athens knew very well that democracy could be 
sustained only by respect for the laws. The care 
of preparing the changes that it might be useful to 
propose belonged especially to the thesraothetse. Their 
propositions were presented to the senate, which had 
the right to r^ect, but not to convert them into laws. 
In case of approval the senate convoked the assembly, 
and presented the bill of the thesmothetaB. But the 
people could decide nothing at once; they put off the 
discussion to another day. Meanwhile they designated 
five orators, whose special mission should be to deferid 
the existing laws, and. to point out the inconveniences of 
the innovation proposed. On the day fixed the people 
again assembled and heard, fiiist, the orators charged 
with the defence of the old laws, and afterwards those 
who supported the new. When ■ speeches had been 
beard, the people did not decide yet. They! contented 
-themselves with' naming a commission, very numerous, 
but composed exclusively of men who bad held the 
Oifi^ee of judge. This commission returned to the ex- 

' Pollux, VIII. 94. Philoohorus, Fragm,., coll. Didot, p. 407. 
• Athenaeus, X. 73. Pollux, VIII. 52. See G. Perrot, Mist. 
4lu droiipuhlic d'Athines, ch^p. II. 


amination of the affair, heard the orators anew, dis- 
cussed, and deliberated. If the commissioners rejected 
the proposed law, their decision was without appeal. 
If they approved it, the people were again assembled ; 
and this third time they voted, and by their votes the 
bill became a law.' 

Notwithstanding so much prudence, an unjust or un- 
wise proposition might still be adopted ; but the new 
law forever carried the name of its author, who might 
afterwards be prosecuted and punished. The people, 
as the real sovereign, were reputed infallible, but every 
orator always remained answerable for the advice he 
had given.' 

Such were the rules which the democracy obeyed. 
But we are not to conclude from this that they never 
made mistakes. Whatever the form of government, — 
monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, — there are days 
when reason governs, and others when passion rules. 
No constitution ever suppressed the weaknesses and 
vices of human nature. The more minute the rules, 
the more difficult and full of peril they show the direc- 
tion of society to be. Democracy could last only by 
force of prudence. 

We are astonished, too, at the amount of labor which 
this democracy required of men. It was a very labori- 
ous government. See how the life of an Athenian is 
passed. One day he is called td the assembly of his 
deme, and has to deliberate on the religious and politi- 
cal interests of this little association. Another day 
he must go to the assembly of his tribe ; a religious 

• .ffiechines, in Ctesiph., 38. Demosthenes, in Timocr. ; in 
Leptin. Andocides, I. 83. 

* Thucydides, III. 43. Demosthenet, in Timocratem. 


festival is to be arranged, or expenses are to be ex- 
amined, or decrees passed, or chiefs and judges named. 
Thi-ee times a month, regularly, he takes part in the 
general assembly of the people; and he is not permit- 
ted to be absent. The session is long. He does not 
go simply to vote; having arrived in the morning, ho 
must remain till a late hour, and listen to the orators. 
He cannot vote unless he has been present from the 
opening of the session, and has heard all the speeches. 
For him this vote is one of the most serious affairs. At 
one time political or military chiefs are to be elected, 
— that is to say, those to whom his interests and his 
life are to be confided for a year ; at another a tax is 
to be imposed, or a law to be changed. Again, he has 
to vote on the question of war, knowing well that, in 
case of war, he must give his own blood or that of a 
son. Individual interests are inseparably united with 
those of the state. A man cannot be indifferent or in- 
considerate. If he is mistaken, he knows that he shall 
soon suffer for it, and that in each vote he pledges his 
fortune and his life. The day when the disastrous Si- 
ciKan expe<Jltion was decided upon, there was no citi- 
zen who did not know that one of his own family must 
make a part of it, and who was not required to give his 
whole attention to weighing the advantages of such an 
expedition against the dangers it presented. It was of 
the greatest importance that one should see the subject 
in a clear light ; for a check received by his country 
was for every citizen a diminution of his personal dig- 
nity, of his security, and of his wealth. 

The duty of a citizen was not limited to voting. 
When his turn came, he was required to act as a magis- 
trate in his deme or in his tribe. Every third year * 

' There were 5,000 heliasts out of 14,000 citizens ; but we may 


he was a heliast, and passed all that year in the courts 
of justice, occupied in hearing cases and applying the 
law. There was hardly a citizen who was not called 
upon twice in his life to be a senator. Then for a year 
he sat every day from morning till evening, receiving 
the deijositions of magistrates, demanding their ac- 
counts, replying to foreign ambassadors, drawing up 
instructions for Athenian ambassadors, examining into 
all affairs that were to be submitted to the people, and 
preparing all the laws. -Finally, he might be a magis- 
trate of the city, an archon, a strategus, or an astynome, 
if the lot or suffrage designated him. It was, we see, 
a heavy charge to be a citizen of a democratic state. 
There was enough to occupy almost one's whole ex- 
istence, and there remained veiy little time for per- 
sonal affairs and domestic life. Therefisre Aristotle 
says, very justly, that the man who bad to labor in 
order to live could not be a citizen. Such were the 
requirements of a democracy. The citizen, like the 
public functionary of our day, was required to devote 
himself entirely to the state. He gave it his blood in 
war and his time during peace. He was not free to 
iay aside public affairs in order to give more attention 
to his own ; it was rather his own that he was required 
to neglect in order to labor for the profit of the city. 
Men passed their lives in governing themselves. De- 
mocracy could not last except through the incessant 
labor of all citizens. Let their zeal diminish ever so 
little,: and it perished or became corrupt. 

deduct from this second number 3,000 or 4,000, who might have 
beea thrown out by the ioxiftaala. 



Bich and Poor. Democracy Perishes. The Fopulai 

When a series of revolutions had produced an 
equality among men, and there was no longer occasion 
to fight for principles and rights, men began to make 
war for interests. This new period in the history of 
cities did not commence for all at the same time. In 
some it closely followed the establishment of democ- 
racy; in others it appeared only after several genera- 
tions that had known how to govern themselves with 
mo^^eration. But all the cities sooner or later passed 
through these deplorable struggles. 

As men departed from the ancient system, a poor 
class began to grow up. Before, when every man be- 
longed to a gens, and had his master, extreme poverty 
was almost unknown. A man was supported by his 
chief; the one to whom he owed obedience was bound 
in turn to provide for his wants. But the revolutions 
which had dissolved the j"^*os had also changed the 
conditions of human life. The day when man was 
freed from the bonds of clientship, he saw the necessi- 
ties and the diflBculties of existence stand out before 
him. Life had become more independent, but it was 
also more laborious and subject to more accidents. 
Thenceforth each one had the care of his own well- 
being, his enjoyments, and his task. One became ricli 
by his activity or his good fortune, while another ic- 
mained poor. Inequality of wealth is inevitable in 
every society which does not wish to remain in the 
patriarcltar state or in that of the tribe. 


The democracy did not suppress poverty; but, on 
the contrary, rendered it more perceptible. Equality 
of political rights made the inequality of conditions ap- 
pear still more plainly. 

As there was no authority that was above rich and 
poor at the same time, and could constrain them to 
keep the peace, it could have been wished that eco- 
nomic principles and the conditions of labor had been 
such as to compel the two classes to live on good 
terms. If, foi/ example, the one had stood in need of 
the other, -^ if the wealthy could not have enriched 
themselves except by calling upon the poor for their 
labor, and the poor could have found the means of liv- 
ing by selling their laboi; to the rich, — then the ine- 
quality of fortunes would have stimulated the activity 
and the intelligence of man, and would not have be- 
gotten corruption and civil war. 

But many cities were absolutely without manufac- 
tures and commerce ; they had, therefore, no means of 
augmenting the apaount of public wealth in order to 
give a part of it to the poor without despoiling any 
one. Where there was commerce, nearly all its bene- 
fits were for the rich in consequence of the high rate 
of interest. If there were manufectures, tlie workmen 
were slaves. We know that the rich men of Athens, 
and of Rome, had in their houses weavers, cai-vers, and 
armorers, all slaves. Even the liberal professions were 
almost closed to the citizen. The physician, was often 
a blave, who cured disea^s for the benefit of his mas- 
ter; bank-,clerks, many architects, ship-builders, and 
the lower state officials were slaves. Slavery was a 
scourge from which free society itself sufiered. The 
citizen .foundj few employments, little to do; the want 
of occupation soon rend,ered hini ipdolent. As he saw 


only slaves at work, he defepiBed labor. Thus eco- 
nomic habits^ moral dispositionsj prejudices, all com- 
bined to prevent the poor man escaping from his 
misery and living honestly. Wealth and poverty were 
not constituted in a way to live together in peace. 

The poor man had equality of rights-; but assuredly 
his daily sufferings led him to think equality of for- 
tunes far preferable. Nor was he long in perceiving 
that the equality which he had might serve him to ac- 
quire that which he had not, and that, master of the 
votes, he might become master of the wealth of his 

He began by undertaking to live upon liis right of 
voting. He asked to be paid for attending the assem- 
bly, or for deciding causes in the courts. If the city 
was not rich enough to afford such an expense, the 
poor man had other resources. He sold his vote, and, 
as the occasions far voting were frequent, he could live. 
At Rome this traffic was regular, and was carried on 
in broad day; at Athens it was better concealed. At 
Romci where the poor man did not act as a judge, he 
sold himself as a witness; at Athens, as a judge. All 
this did not relieve the poor man from his misery, and 
reduced him to a state of degradation. 

These expedients did not suffice, and the poor man 
used more energetic means. He organized regular 
warfare against wealth. At first this war was dis- 
guised under legal forms ; the rich were charged with 
all the public expenses, loaded with taxes, made to 
build triremes^ and to entertain the people with shows. 
Then fines were mviltiplied, and property confiscated 
for the slightest fhult. No one can tell how many 
men were conderiined to exile for the simple reason 
that they were rich. The fortune of the exile went 


into the public treasury, whence it afterwards flowed, 
under the form f/f the triobolon, to be distributed 
among the poor. But even all this did not suffice ; for 
the number of poor continued to increase. The poor 
then began to use their right of suflFrage either to de- 
cree an abolition of debts, or a grand confiscation, and 
a general subversion. 

In earlier times they had respected the right of prop- 
erty, because it was founded in a religious belief. So 
long as each patrimony was attached to a worship, and 
was reputed inseparable from the domestic gods of a 
family, no one had thought of claiming the right to de- 
spoil a man of his field ; but at the time to which the 
revolutions have conducted us, these old beliefs are 
abandoned, and the religion of property has disappeared. 
Wealth is no longer a sacred and inviolable domain. 
It no longer appears as a gift of tlie gods, but as a gift 
of chance. A desire springs up to lay hold of it by de- 
spoiling the possessor, and this desire, which formerly 
would have seemed an impiety, begins to appear right. 
Men no longer saw the superior principle that conse- 
crates the right of property. Each felt only his own 
wants, and measured his rights by them. 

We have already seen that the city, especially among 
the Greeks, had unlimited power, that liberty was un- 
known, and that individual rights were nothing when 
opposed to the will of the state. It followed that a 
majority of votes might decree the confiscation of the 
property of the rich, and that the Greeks saw neither 
illegality nor injustice in this. What the state had 
declared was right. This absence of individual liberty 
was for Greece a cause of misfortunes and disorders. 
Rome, which had a little more respect for the rights of 
man, sufiered less. 


At Megaia, as Plutarch relates, after an insurrection, 
it was decreed that debts should be abolished, and that 
the creditors, besides the loss of their capital, should be 
held to reimburse the interest already paid.' 

"At Megara, as in otlier cities," says Aristotle," "the 
popular party, having got the power into their hands, 
began by confiscating the j)roperty of a few rich fami- 
lies. But, once on this road, it was iilipossible to stop. 
A new victim was necessary, every day ; and, finally, 
the number of the rich who were despoiled or exiled 
became so great that they formed an army." 

In 412, "the people of Samos put to death two hun- 
dred of their adversaries, exiled four hundred more, and 
divided up the lands and houses."' 

At Syracuse, hardly were the people freed from the 
tyranny of Dionysius, when they decreed the partition 
of the lands.'' 

In this period of Greek history, whenever we see a 
civil war, the rich are on one side, and the poor are on 
the other. The poor are trying to gain possession of ■ 
the wealth, and the rich are ti-ying to retain or to 
recover it. " In every civil war," says a Greek hietor 
rian, " the gi-eat object is to change fortunes." ' Every 
demagogue acted like that Molpagoras of Cios," who 
delivered to the multitude those who possessed money, 
massacred some, exiled others, and distributed their 
property among the poor. At Messene, as soon as the 
popular party gained the upper hand, they exiled the 
rich, and distributed their lands. 

The upper classes among the ancients never had in- 

' Plutarch, Greeic Quest., 18. 

» Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 4 (V. 4). 

Thuoydides, VII. 21. ■* Plutarch, Dion., 37, 48. 

Polybius, XV. fit. » Polybius, VII. 10. 


telligeuce or ability enough to direct the poor towards 
labor, and thua help them to escape honorably from 
their misery and corruption. A few benevolent men 
attempted it, but they did not succeed. The result 
was, that the cities always floated between two revolu- 
tions, one to despoil the nch, the other to enable them 
to recover their fortunes. This lasted from the Pelo- 
ponnesian war to the conquest of Greece by the 

In every city the rich and the poor were two ene- 
mies living by the side of each other, the one coveting 
wealth, and the other seeing their wealth coveted. 'No 
relation, no service, no labor united them. The poor 
could acquire wealth only by despoiling the rich. The 
lich could defend their property only by extreme skill 
or by force. They regarded each other with the eyes 
of hate. There was a double conspiracy in every city ; 
the poor conspired from cupidity, the rich fiom feai-. 
Aristotle says the rich took the following o.nth among 
themselves: "I swear always to remain the enemy 
of the people, and to do them aU the injury in my 
power." ' 

It is impossible to say which of the two parties com- 
mitted the most cruelties and crimes. Hati-ed effaced 
in their hearts every sentiment of humanity. " There 
was at Miletus a war between the rich and the poor. 
At first the latter were successful, and drove the rich 
from the city ; but afterwards, regretting that they had 
not been able to slaughter them, they took their chil- 
dren, collected them into some threshing-floors, and had 
them trodden to death under the feet of oxen. The 

• Aristotle, PoUiics, VIII. 7, 19 (V. 7). Plutarch, Zysan- 
der, 19. 


rich afterwards I'etuvned to the citj', and became mas- 
ters of it. They took, in theii- turn, the children of the 
poor, covered them with pitch, and burnt them .ihve.' 

What, then, became of the deTnoci'aicy? They were 
not precisely responsible for these excesses and crimes ; 
still they were the first to be affected by them. There 
were no longer any governing rules; now, th« de- 
mocracy could live only under the strictest and best 
obsen'ed rales. We no longer see any goverrirfient, 
but merely factions in power. The magistrate no longer 
exercised his imthwrity for the benefit of peace and 
law, but for the interests and greed of a party. A 
command no longer had a legitimate title or a sacred 
character; there was no longer anything voluntary in 
obedience ; always forced, it was always waning for an 
Oi)portunity to take its revenge. The city was now, 
as Plato saidi only an assemblage of men, where one 

' Heracleides of Pontus, in Athenseus, XII. 26. It is quite tlie 
fashion to accuse the Athenian dofflocraoy of liaving set Greece 
the example in these excesses and disorders. Alliens was, on 
the contrary, the only Greek city, kiiowli to us, that did not see 
this atrocious war between rich atid poor within its walls. Tliis 
in.eiligent and *ise people saw, from the day when this series 
of revolutions commenced, that they were ihoving towards a 
goal where labor alone could save society. They tjierefore en- 
couraged it and rendered it honorable. Solon directed that all 
men who had not an occupation should be deprived of political 
rights. Periicle's desired that no slave should Li'bor in the 
eonsteuction of the great monuments which he raised, and re- 
served all this labor for free men. Moreover, property was so 
divided up, that a census, taken at the end of the fifth century, 
shows little Attica to have contained more than ten tliousand 
proprietors. Besides, Athens, living under a somewhat better 
fetononiical riegi'me than the otber cities enjoyed, was less vio- 
lently agitated than the nest Ctf Greece'; the quarrels between rich 
and poor were b^aer, and did not end in the same disorders. 


party was master and the other enslaved. The govera- 
ment was called aristocratic when the rich were in 
power, democratic when the poor ruled. In reality, 
true democracy no longer existed. 

From the day when it was mastered by material in- 
terests, it was changed and corrupted. Democracy, with 
the rich in power, had become a violent oligarchy ; the 
democracy of the poor had become a tyranny. From 
the fifth to the second century before our era, we see 
in all the cities of Greece and of Italy, Rome still ex- 
cepted, that the republican forms are imperilled, and 
that they liave become odious to one party. Now, we 
can clearly see who wish to destroy it, and who desire 
its preservation. The rich, more enlightened and more 
haughty, remain faithful to republican government, 
while the poor, for whom political rights have less val- 
ue, are ready to adopt a tyrant as their chief. When 
this poor class, after several civil wars, saw that victories 
giiined them nothing, that the opposite party always 
returned to power, and that, after many interchanges 
of confiscations and restitutions^ the straggle always 
recommenced, they dreamed of establishing a monarch- 
ical government which should conform to their inter- 
ests, and which, by forever suppressing the opposite 
party, should assure them, for the future, the fruits of 
their \ictory. And so they set up tyrants. From 
that moment the parties changed names; they were 
no longer aristocracy or democracy; they fought for 
liberty or for tyranny. Under these two names wealth 
and poverty were still at war. Liberty signified the 
government where the rich had the rule, and defended 
their fortunes ; tyranny indicated exactly the contrary. 

It is a general fact, and almost without exception in 
the history of Greece and of Italy, that the tyrants 


sprang from the popular party, and had the aristocracy 
as enemies. " The mission of the tyrant," says Aris- 
totle, " is to protect the people against the rich ; he has 
always commenced by being a demagogue, and it is the 
essence of tyranny to oppose the aristocracy." " The 
means of arriving at a tyranny," he also says, " is to 
gain the confidence of the multitude ; and one does 
this by declaring himself the enemy of the rich. This 
was the course of Peisistratus at Athens, of Theiigeaes 
at Megara, and of Dionysius at Syracuse." ' 

The tyi-aht always made war upon the Mch. At 
Megara, Theagenes surprises the herds of tne rich in 
the country and slaughters them. At Cumse, Avisto- 
demus abolishes debts, and takes the lands of the rich 
to give them to the poor. This was the couiv^e of 
Nicocles at Sicyon, and of Aristomachos at Argos. All 
these tyrants writers represent as very cruel. It is 
not probable that they were all so by nature ; but they 
were urged by the pressing necessity, in which they 
found themselves, of giving lands or money to the poor. 
They could maintain their power only while they sat- 
isfied the cravings of the multitude, and administered 
to their passions. 

The tyrant of the Greek cities was a personage of 
whom nothing in our day can give us an idea. He was 
a man who lived in the midst of his subjects, without 
intermediate ofiicers and without ministers, and who 
dealt with them directly. He was not in that lofty and 
independent position which the sovereign of a great 
state occupies. He had all the little passions of the 
private man ; he was not insensible to the profit* of 
a confiscation ; he was accessible to anger and to the 

' Aristotle, PoUties, V. 8} VIII. 4, 5; V. i. 


desire of personal revenge; he -was disturbed hy fear; 
he knew that lie had enemies all about him, and that 
public opinion approved assassination, when it wns a 
tyrant that was struck down. We can imaguie what 
the government of such a man must have been. With 
two or three honorable exceptions, the tyrants who 
were set up in all the Greek cities in the fourth and 
third centuries reigned only by flattering all that was 
worst in the multitude, and by destroying all that 
was superior in birth, wealth, or merit. Tlieir power 
was unlimited. The Greeks could see how easily a 
republican government, when it did not profess a great 
respect for individual rights, was changed into a des- 
potism. The ancients had conferred such powei-s upon 
the state that, the day when a tyrant took this om- 
nipotence in band, men no longer had any security 
against him, and he was legally the master of their 
lives and their fortunes. 


Sevdlutions of Sparta, 

We are not to believe that Sparta remained ten cen- 
turies without seeing a revolution- Thucydides teUs us, 
on the contrary, "that it was torn by dissensions more 
than any other Greek city." ' The history of these in- 
ternal dissensions, it is true, is little known to us; but 
this is due to the fact that the government of Sparta 
made a rule and a custom of surrounding itself with 
the most profound mystery." The greater part of the 

• Thaeydides, 1. 18. » Thucydides, V. 68. 


Bt^'uggles that took place there have been concealed 
and forgotten; but we kiiow enough of them, at least, 
to .saj', that if the history of Sparta difievs materially 
from that of other cities,, it has none the less passed 
through the same series of revolutions. 

The Dorians were already united into a people when 
they overran Peloponnesus. What had caused tbera 
to leave their country? Was it the invaaoa of a for- 
eign nation? or was it an internal revolujtion? We 
4o not know. But it appears certain that, at this stage 
in the life of the Dorians, the old rule of the gens had 
already disappeared. We no longer distinguish among 
them this anoient organization of the family; we no 
longer find traces of the patriarchal government, or 
vestiges of the religious nobility, or of hereditary client- 
ship ; we see only wariaors, all equal, under a king. It 
is probable, therefore, that a first social revolution had 
already taken place, either in Doris or on the road 
which oonduoted. this people to Sparta. If we com- 
pare Dorian society of the ninth century with Ionian 
society of the same epoch, we perceive that the former 
was much farther advanced than the other in the, series 
of changes. The Ionian race entered later upon the 
revolutionai-y road, but passed over it quicker. 

Though the Dorians, on their arrival at Sparta, no 
longer had the government of the gens, they had not 
been able so completely to free themeelves from it as not 
to retain some of its institutions, — as, for example, the 
right of primogeniture and the inalienability of the pat- 
rimony. These institutions could not fail to establish 
an aiistocracy in Spartan society. 

All the traditions show us that, at the time when 
Lycurgus appeared, there were two classes among the 
Spaitans, and that they were hostile t^ each other. 


Royalty had a natural tendency to take part with the 
lower class. Lycurgus, who was not king, became the 
chief of the aristocracy, and at the same blow weak- 
ened royalty, and brought the people under the yoke. 

The declamations of a few of the ancients, and of 
many of the moderns, on the wisdom of Spartan in- 
stitutions, on the unchangeable good fortune which the 
Spartans enjoyed, on their equality, and on their living 
in common, ought not to blind us. Of all the cities 
that ever were upon the earth, Sparta is perhaps the 
one where the aristocracy reigned the most oppressive- 
ly, and where equality was the least known. It is use- 
less to talk of the division of the land. If that divisioR 
ever took place, it is at least quite certain that it wa& 
not kept up ; for, in Aristotle's time, " some possessed 
immense domains; others had nothing, or almost noth- 
ing. One could reckon hardly a thousand proprietors 
in all Laconia." ' 

If we leave out the Helots and the Laconians, and 
examine only Spartan society, we shall find a hierarchy 
of classes superposed one above the other. First, there 
are the Neodamodes, who appear to be former slaves 
freed ; " then come the Epeunactse, who had been ad- 
mitted to fill up the gaps made by war among the 
Spartans ; ' in a rank a little above figured the Motha- 
ces, who, very similar to domestic clients, lived with 
their masters, composed their cortege, shared their oc- 
cupations, their labors, and their festivals, and fought 
by their side;* then came the class of bastards, who, 
though descended from true Spartans, were separated 

' Aristotle, Politics, II. 6, 10 and 11. 

' Myron of Priene, in Athenaeas, VI. 

' Tlieopompus, in Athenseus, VI. 

* Athenseus, VI. 102. Plutarch, Oleomenes.S. .ffilian, XII , 43. 


from them by religion and law.' There was still an- 
other class, called the inferiors, tno/ielovfg^ who were 
probably the younger, disinherited sons of families. 
Finally, above all these was raised the aristocratic 
class, composed of the men called the Equals — o.uotoi. 
These men were indeed equal among themselves, but 
were much superior to all the rest. The number of 
this class is not known ; we know only that it was very 
small. One day one of their enemies counted them in 
the public square, and found some sixty of them in the 
midst of a multitude of four thousand people.' These 
Equals alone had a part in the government of the city. 
" To be outside this class," says Xenophon, " is to be 
outside the body politic." ■* Demosthenes says that a 
man who entered the class of Equals became by that 
alone "one of the masters of the government."' "They 
were called Equals," he further says, "because equality 
ought to reign between the members of an oligarchy." 
On the composition of this body we have no precise 
information. It was recruited, as it should seem, by 
election ; but the right of electing belonged to the body 
itself, and not to the people. To be admitted to it 
was what they called j in the oflScial language of Sparta, 
the reward of virtue. We do not know how much 
wealth, rank, merit, and age were required to compose 
this virtue. It is evident that birth was not sufficient, 
since there was an election. We may suppose that it 
was rather wealth which determined the choice in a city 

' Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 6 (V. 6). Xenophon, Bellmicat 
y. 3, 9. 

* Xenophon, Biellenica, III. 8, 6. 
' Xenophon, ffellenica, III. 3, 5. 

* Xenophon, Gov. of Laced., 10. 

* Demosthenes, in Leptin., 107. 


" which bad the love of money in the highest degree, 
and where everything was permitted to wealth." ' 

However this may be, these Equals alone had the 
rights of citizens ; they alone composed the assembly; 
they alone formed what was called at Sparta the people. 
From this class came, by election, the senators, to 
whom the constitution gave very great authority; for 
Demosthenes says that the day a man entered the sen- 
ate he became a despot towards the multitude.' This 
senate, of which the kings were simple members, gov- 
erned the state according to the habitual custom 
of aristocratic bodies; annual magistrates, whose elec- 
tion belonged indirectly to it, exercised in its name 
an absohite authority. Thus Sparta had a republican 
government ; it even had all the externals of a democ- 
racy — king-priests, annual magistrates, a deliberative 
senate, and an assembly of the people. But this people 
was an association of some two or three hundred men. 

Such was, after Lycurgus, and especially after the es- 
tablishment of the ephors, the government of Sparta. 
An aristocracy, composed of a few rich men, placed an 
iron yoke upon the Helots, upon the Lacouians, and 
even upon the greater number of the Spartans. By its 
energy, ability, unscrupulousness, and disregai-d of all 
moral laws, it succeeded in holding its power during 
five centuries ; but it stiiTcd up cruel hatreds, and had 
to suppress a great number of insurrections. 

We have not spoken of the plots of the Helots. All 
those of the Spartans are not known. The government 
was too wise not to seek to suppress even the recollec- 

' 'A ifti.ox^iinarla Sni^ar rioi; it was already a proverb in 
Greece in Aristotle's time. Zenobius, II. 24. Aristotle, Pol., 
VIII. 6, 7 (V. 6J. 

» Demosthenes, inLeptm., 107. Xenophon, Gov^ ofLcuxd^, 10. 


tion of them. Still there are a few which history has 
not been able to overlook. We know that the colo- 
niets who founded Tarentum were Spartans who had 
attempted to overthix)w the government. An indiscre- 
tion of the poet Tyrt£eus revealed to all Greece that, 
during the Messenian wars, a party had conspived to 
obtain a division of the lands. 

What saved Sparta, was the extreme division which 
existed in the lower orders. The Helots did not agree 
with the Laconians; and the Mclihaces despised the 
Neodamodes. No coalition was possible; and the 
aristocracy — thanks to its military education and the 
close union of its members ! — was always strong- 
enough to make head against any one class of its ene- 

The kings attempted what no class could realize. 
All those among them who aspired to escape from- the 
state of inferiority in which the aristocracy held them 
sought support among the. lower classes. Dwing the 
Persian war Pausasnias formed- the project of elevating 
royalty and the lower orders at the same time by over- 
throwing the oligarchy. The Spartans put him to 
death, accusing him of having conspired with the king 
of Persia; his real crime was, rather, entertaining the 
thought of freeing the Helots.' We can see in history 
how numerous were the kings who were exiled by the 
ephors. The cause of these condemnations is easily 
guessed ; and Aiistotle says, " The kings of Sparta, in 
order to make head against the ephors and the senate, 
became demagogues." * 

In 397 B. C. a conspii^aoy came near overthrowing 

• Aristotle, Politics, VIII. 1 (V. 1). Thucydides, I. 18, 2. 
" Adatptle, Politics, II. 6, 14. - , 


this oligarchic government. A certain Cinadon, who 
did- not belong to the class of Equals, was the chief 
of the conspirators. He would bring one whom he 
wished to join in this plot to the public square, and 
make him count the citizens ; by including the ephors 
and the senators, they would reach the number of 
about seventy. Cinadon would then say to him, "Those 
men are our enemies; all the others, on the contrary, 
who fill the square to the number of more than four 
thousand, are our allies." He would add, "When you 
meet a Spartan in the country, see in him an enemy 
and a master ; all other men are friends." Helots, La- 
conians, Neodamodes, i^io/itloveg, all were united this 
time, and were the accomplices of Cinadon. " For ali," 
says the historian, "had such a hatred for their masters 
that there was not a single one among them who did 
not declare that it would be agreeable to him to eat 
them raw." But the government of Sparta was ad- 
mirably served ; no secret could be kept from it. The 
ephors pretended that the entrails of the victims had 
revealed the plot to them. No time was left for the 
conspirators to act ; they were seized and secretly put 
to death. The oligarchy was once more saved.' 

Favored by this government, the inequality contin- 
ued to increase. The Pcloponnesian war and the ex- 
pedition into Asia had caused money to flow to Sparta; 
but it had been distributed in a very unequal manner, 
and had enriched those only who were already rich. 
At the same time small properties disappeared. The 
number of proprietors, who in Aristotle's time amount- 
ed to a thousand, was reduced to a hundred a century 
after him.' The entire soil was in a few hands at a 

' Xenophon, Bellenica, 111. 8. » Plutarch, Agis, fi. 


time when there wns neither manufacture nor com- 
merce to furnish occupation for the poor, and when the 
ricli employed slaves in cultivat'ing their immense do- 

On the one hand were a few men who had every- 
thing, on the other a very great number who had abso- 
lutely nothing. In the life of Agis, and in that of Cle- 
omenes, Plutarch presents us with a picture of Spartan 
society. We there see an unbridled love of wealth ; 
everything is made secondary to this. Among a few 
there are luxury, effeminacy, and the desire endlessly to 
augment their fortunes. Beyond those there is a mis- 
erable crowd, indigent, without political rights, of no 
weight in the city, envious, full of hatred, and con 
demned by their condition to desire a revolution. 

When the oligarchy had thus pushed affairs to the 
last possible limits, revolution was inevitable, and the 
democracy, so long arrested and repressed, finally broke 
down the barriers. We can also easily believe that, 
after ages of compression, the deraoijracy would not 
stop with political changes, but would arrive with the 
first bound at social reforms. 

The small number of Spaitans by birth (there were, 
including all the different classes, no more than seven 
hundred) and the debasement of character, a result of 
long oppression, explain why the signal for changes 
did not come from the lower classes. It came from a 
king. Agis undertook to accomplish this inevitable 
revolution by means, which increased for him the 
difficulties of the entei-prise. He presented to the sen- 
ate — that is to say, to the rich men themselves — two 
bills for the abolition of debts and the partition of the 
lands. We cannot be too much surprised that the sen- 
ate did not reject these propositions. Agis had perhaps 


taken bis measures to have them accepted. But the 
laws, once voted, remained to be put in execution ; and 
these reforms are always so difficult to carry through 
that the boldest fail. Agis, stopped short by the oppo- 
sition of the ephors, was constrained to go outside the 
law ; he deposed those magistrates, and named others 
by his sole authority. He then armed his partisans, 
and established, for a year, a reign of teri'or. Duniig 
that time he was enabled to apply the law concerning 
debts, and to burn in the public square all evidences 
of debt ; but he had not time to divide up the land. 
We do not know whether Agis hesitated at this point, 
frightened at his own work, or whether the oligarchy 
circulated well-devised accusations against him. At 
any rate the people left him, and allowed him to fall. 
The ephors put him to death, and the aristocratic gov 
ernment was re-established. 

Cleojnenes took up the projects of Agis, but with 
more skill and fewer scruples. He began by massa- 
cring the ephors; he boldly suppressed this magistracy, 
which was odious to the kings and to the popular par- 
ty, and proscribed the rich. After these measures he 
carried through the revolntion; he distributed the 
lands, and gave the rights of citizens to four thousand 
Laconians. It is worthy of remark that neither Aois 
nor Cleomenes avowed that he was caiTying through a 
revolution, and that both, claiming to act in the name 
of the old legislator, Lycurgus, pretended that they 
were bringing Sparta back to her ancient usages. As- 
suredly the constitution of Cleomenes was vei-y far 
from them. The king was really an absolute master; 
there was no other authority as a counterpoise. He 
reigned after the manner of the tyrants who then held 
sway in most of the Greek cities, and the Spartan 



people, satisfied to have obtained lands, appeared to 
care very little for political liberty. This situation did 
not continue long. Cleomenea wished to extend the 
deiBOcratic rule to all Peloponnesus, where Aratus, at 
the veiy same time, was laboring to establish liberty 
and a welUregulated aristocracy. In all the cities, the 
popular party agitated in the name of Cleomenes, hoping, 
like Sparta, to obtain an abolition of debts and a dis- 
tribution of lands. It was this unexpected insurrection 
of the lower classes that obliged Aratua to change all 
his plans. He thought he could count upon Macedo- 
nia, whose ting, Antigouus Doson, was then acting 
on the plan of attacking the tyrants and the popular 
party everywhere, and therefore introduced him into 
Peloponnesus. Antigonus and the Aohaeans conquered 
Cleomenes at Sellasia. The Spartan deimocraey were 
again overthrown, and the Macedonians re-established 
the ancient government (B, C. 222). 

But the oligarchy could no longer support itself. 
Disturbances continued a long time; one year, three 
epbors, who were favorable to the popular party, mas- 
sacred their two colleagues ; the following year the 
five ephors belonged to the oligarchs. The people took 
arms and kiUed them all. The oligarchy wanted no 
kings ; the people were in favor of kings ; one was 
nominated and elected outside the royal family — a 
thing that had never been known before at Sparta. 
This king, named Lycurgus, was twice dethroned, once 
by the people, because he refused to divide the lands, 
and a second time by the aristocracy, because they 
suspected him of wishing to make the partition. It is 
not known how he closed his reign ; but after him there 
was a tyrant, Maehanidas, at Sparta ^^ a certain proof 
that the popular party had gained the ascendency. 


Philopoemen, who, at the head of the Achsean league, 
made war everywhere upon democratic tyrnntfi, con- 
quered and killed Machanidas. The Spartan democracy 
immediately set up another tyrant, Nabis. This man 
gave the rights of citizens to all freemen, raising the 
Laconians themselves to the rank of Spartans. He even 
freed the Helots. Following the custom of the tyrants 
of the Greek cities, he became the leader of the poor 
against the rich, and proscribed or put to death those 
whose riches raised them above others. 

This new democratic Sparta was not wanting in 
grandeur. Nabis established such order in Laconia as 
had not been known there for a long time. He brought 
Messenia, Elis, and a part of Arcadia under Spartan 
rule, and seized Argos. He formed a navy, which was 
very far from the ancient traditions of the Spartan aris- 
tocracy. With his fleet he commanded all the islands 
that surround Peloponnesus, and extended his influ- 
ence even over Crete. He everywhere raised the 
democracy : master of Argos, his first care was to con- 
fiscate the property of the rich, abolish debts, and dis- 
tribute the lands. We can see in Polybius what a 
hatred the Achaean league had for this democratic 
tyrant. The league determined Flaminius to make 
war upon him in the name of Rome. Ten thousand 
Laconians, without counting mercenaries, took -arms to 
defend Nabis. After a check, he desired to make peace ; 
but the people refused : so much was the tyrant's cause 
that of the democracy. Flaminius, as victor, took away 
a part of his forces, but allowed him to reign in Laconia • 
either because the impossibility of re-establishing the 
old government was too evident, or because it was for 
the interest of Rome that there should be a few tyrants, 
as a counterpoise to the Achsean league. Nabis was 


afterwards assassinated by an ^oliau; but his death 
did not restore the oligarchy. The changes which lie 
had made in the social state were maintained .after 
him, and Rome herself refused to restore Sparta to her 
ancient condition. 





New Beliefs. Philosophy changes the Enles of Politics. 

In what precedes we have seen how the iminicipal 
governments were constituted among the ancients. A 
very ancient religion had at first founded the family, 
and afterwards the city. At first it had established 
domestic law and the government of the gens; after- 
wards It had established civil laws and municipal gov- 
ei'nment. The state was closely allied with religion ; it 
came from religion, and was confounded with it. For 
this reason, in the primitive city all political institutions 
had been religious institutions, the festivals had been 
ceremonies of the worahip, the laws had been sacred 
formulas, and the kings and magistrates had been priests. 
For this reason, too, individual liberty had been un- 
known, and man had not been able to withdraw even his 
conscience from the omnipotence of the city. For this 
reason, also, the state remained bounded by the limits 
of a city, and had never been able to pass the bounda- 
ries which its national gods had originally traced for it. 
Every city had not only its political independence, but 
also its worship and its code. Religion, law, govern- 


ment, all were municipal. The city was the eingle 
living force ; there was nothing ^bove and nothing be 
low it; neither national unity nor individual liberty. 

It remains for us to relate how this system dis- 
appeared, — that is to say, how, the principle of human 
association being changed, government, religion, and 
law threw off this municipal character which they had 
borne in antiquity. 

The ruin of the governments which Greece and Italy 
liad created was due to two principal causes. One be 
longed to the order of moral and intellectual facts, the 
other to the order of material facts ; the first is the 
transformation of beliefs, the second is the Roman 
conquest. These two great facts belong to the same 
period ; they were developed and accomplished to- 
gether during the series of six centuries which preceded 
our ei-a. 

The primitive religion, whose symbols were the im- 
movable stone of the hearth, and the ancestral tomb, — 
a religion which had established the ancient family, and 
had afterwards organized the city, — changed with time, 
and grew old. The human mind increased in strength, 
and adopted new beliefs. Men began to have an idea 
of immaterial nature ; the notion of the human soul 
became more definite, and almost at the same time that 
of a divine intelligence sprang up in their minds. 

Could they still believe in the divinities of the prim- 
itive ages, of those dead men who lived in the tomb, of 
those Lares who had been men, of those holy ances- 
tors whom it was necessary to continue to nourish with 
food ? Such a faith became im]jo8sible. Such beliefs 
were no longer on a level with the human mind. It is 
quite true that these prejudices, though rude, were not 
easily eradicated from the vulgar mind^ They still 


reigned there for a long time ; but from the fifth cen- 
tury before our era, reflecting men freed themselves 
from these errors. They had other ideas of death. 
Some believed in annihilation, others in a second and 
entirely spiritual existence in a world of spirits. In 
these cases they no longer admitted that the dead 
lived in the tomb, supporting themselves upon oflerings. 
They also began to have too high an idea of the divine 
to persist in believing that the dead were gods. On 
the contrary, they imagined the soul gping to seek its 
recompense in the Elysian Fields, or going to pay the 
penalty of its crimes ; and by a notable progress, they 
no longer deified any among men, except those whom 
gratitude or flattery placed above humanity. 

The idea of the divinity was slowly transformed by 
tiie natural effect of the greater power of the mind. 
This idea, which man had at first applied to the invisi- 
ble force which he telt within himself, he transported 
to the incomparably grander powers which he saw iii 
nature, whilst lie was elevating himself to the concep- 
tion of a being who was without and above nature. 
Then the Lares and Heroes lost the adoration of all who 
thought. As to the sacred fire, which appears to have 
had no significance, except so far as it was connected 
with the worship of the dead, that also lost its prestige. 
Men continued to have a domestic fire in the house, to 
salute it, to adore it, and to offer it libations ; but this 
was now only a customary worship, which faith no 
longer vivified. 

The public hearth of the city, or prytaneum, was 
insensibly drawn into the discredit into which the do- 
mestic fire had fallen. Men no longer knew what it 
signified ; they had forgotten that the ever-living fire 
of the prytaneum represented the invisible life of the 


national ancestors, founders, and heroes. They con- 
tinued to keep up this fire, to have public meals, and to 
sing the old hymns — va,in ceremonies, of which tliey 
dared not free themselves, but the sense of which no 
one understood. 

Even the divinities of nature, which they had as 
sociated with the sacred fire, changed their character. 
After having commenced by being domestic divinities, 
after having become city divinities, they were trans- 
formed again. Men finally perceived that the difierent 
beings whom they called by the name of Jupiter, might 
be only one and the same being; and thus of other 
gods. The mind was oppressed wit!; tiie multitude of 
divinities, and felt the need of reducing their number. 
Men undei'stood that the gods no longer belonged each 
to a family or to a city, but that they all belonged to 
the human race, and watched over the universe. Poets 
went from city to city, and taught men, instead of the 
old hymns of the city, new songs, wherein neither 
Lares nor city-protecting divinities appeared, and where 
the legends of the great gods of heaven and earth were 
related ; and the Greek people forgot their old domestic 
and national hymns for this new poetry, which was not 
the daughter of religion, but of art and of a free imagi- 
nation. At the same time a few great sanctuaries, like 
those of Delphi and Delos, attracted men, and made 
them forget their local worship. The mysteries and 
the doctrines which these taught accustomed them to 
disdain the empty and meaningless religion of the city. 

Thus an intellectual revolution took place slowly and 
obscurely. Even the priests made no opposition, for as 
long as the sacrifices continued to be offered on desig- 
nated days, it seemed to them that the ancient religion- 
was preserved. Ideas might change, and faith perish- 


provided the rites received no attack. It happened, 
therefore, without the practices being modified, that the 
beliefs were transformed, and that the domestic and 
municipal religion lost all influence over the minds 
of men. 

Then philosophy appeared, and overthrew all the 
rules of the ancient polity. It was impossible to touch 
the opinions of men without also touching the funda- 
mental principles of their government. Pythagoras, 
having a vague conception of the Supreme Being, dis- 
dained the local worshifis ; and this was sufficient to 
cause him to reject the old modes of government, and 
to attempt to found a new order of society. 

Annxagoras comprehended the God-Intelligence 
which reigns over all men and all beings. In reject- 
ing ancient religious notions, he also rejected ancient 
polity. As he did not believe in the gods of the pryta- 
neum, he no longer fulfilled all the duties of a citizen ; 
he avoided the assemblies, and would not be a magis- 
trate. His doctrine was an attack upon the city ; and 
the Athenians condemned him to death. 

The Sophists came afterwards, and exercised more 
influence than these two great minds. They were men 
eager to combat old errors. In the struggle which 
they entered against whatever belonged to the past, 
they did not spare the institutions of the city more 
than they spared religious prejudices. They boldly 
examined and discussed the laws which still reigned in 
the state and in the family. They went from city to 
city, proclaiming new principles, teaching, not precisely 
indifierence to the just and the unjust, but a new justice, 
less narrow,- less exclusive than the old, more humane 
more rational, and freed from the formulas of preceding 
ages. This was a hardy enterprise, which stirred up a 


tempest of hatred and rancor. They were accused of 
having neither religion, nor morals, nor patriotism. 
The truth is, that they had not a very well settled 
doctrine, and thought they had done enough when 
they had attacked old prejudices. They moved, as 
Plato says, what before had been immovable. They 
placed the rule of religious sentiment, and that of 
politics, in the human conscience, and not in the cus- 
toms of ancestors, in immutable tradition. They 
taught the Greeks that to govern a state it was not 
enough to appeal to old customs and sacred laws, but 
that men should be persuaded and their wills should 
be influenced. For the knowledge of ahcient customs 
they substituted the art of reasoning and speaking — 
dialectics and rhetoric. Their adversaries quoted tra- 
dition to them, while theyj on the other hand, employed 
eloquence and intellect. 

When reflection had thus been once awakdned, man 
no longer wished to believe without giving a reason 
for his belief, or to be governed without discussing 
his institutions. He doubted the justice of his old 
eocial laws, and other principles dawned upon bis 
mind. Plato . puts these remarkable words in the 
mouth of a Sophist : " All you who are here, I regard 
as related to each other, Nature, in default of law, 
has made you citizens. But the law, that tyrant of 
man, does violence to nature on many occasions." 
Thus to oppose nature to law and custom was to 
attack the ancient jJolitical system at its foundation. 
In vain did the Athenians banish Protagoras and 
burn his writings: the blow had been struck : the 
result of the tdachings of the Sophists had been im- 
mense. The authority of the old institutions perished 
with the authority of the national gods, and the 


habit of free examination became established in men's 
homes and in the public squares. 

Siicrates, while reproving the abuse which the 
Sophists made of the right to doubt, was still of th.eir 
school. Like them he rejected the empire of tradition, 
and believed that the rules of conduct were graven in 
the human conscience. He differed from them only 
in this ; he studied conscience religiously, and with a 
firm desire to find there an obligation to be just and to 
do good. He ranked truth above custom, and justice 
above the law. He separated morals from religion : 
before hiin, men never thought of a duty except as a 
command of the ancient gods. He showed that the 
principle of duty is in the human mind. In all this, 
whether he wished it or not, he made war upon the 
city worship. In vain he took pains to be presei*'; at 
all the festivals and took part in the sacrifices; his 
belief and liis words contradicted his conduct. He 
founded a new religion, which was the opposite of the 
city religion. He was justly accused of not adoring the 
gods whom the state adored. Men put him to death 
for having attacked the customs and the beliefs of 
their ancestors, or, as they expressed it, for having cor- 
rupted the present generation. The unpopularity of 
Socrates and the violent rage of the citizens are 
explained if we think of the religious habits of that 
Athenian society where there were so many priests, 
and where they were so powerful. But the revolu- 
tion which the Sophists had commenced, and which 
Socrates had taken up with more moderation, was not 
stopped by the death of the old man. Greek society 
was enfranchised more and more, daily, from the 
empire of old beliefs and old institutions. 

After him philosophers freely discussed the prin- 


ciples and rules of human association. Plato, Crito, 
Antisthenes, Speusippus, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and 
many ottiets wrote treatises on polities. They studied 
and examined ; the great problems of the organiza- 
tion of a state, of authority and obedience, of obliga- 
tions and rights, were presented to all minds. 

Doubtless thought could not easily free itself from 
the bonds which habit had made for it. Plato still 
yielded, in certain points, to the empire of old ideas. 
The state which he imagines is still the ancient city : 
it is small ; it must not contain more than five thou- 
sand members. Its government is still regulated on 
ancient principles : liberty is unknown in it ; the 
object which the legislator proposes to himself is less 
the perfection of man than the security and grandeur of 
the association. The family, even, is almost suppressed, 
that it may not come into competition with the city: 
the state is the only proprietor ; it alone is free : the 
state alone has a will; only the state has a religion 
and a belief, and whoever does not believe with it 
must perish. And yet in the midst of all this the new 
ideas appear. Plato proclaims, with Socrates and the 
Sophists, that the moral and political guide is in our- 
selves ; that tradition is nothing, that reason must be 
consulted, and that laws are just only when they con- 
form to human nature. 

These ideas are still more precise in Aristotle. 
"The law," he says, "is reason." He teaches that we 
are to seek, not what conforms to the customs of 
ancestors, but what is good in itself. He adds that, as 
time progresses, institutions should be modified. He 
puts aside respect for ancestors. " Our first ancestors, 
whether they came from the bosom of the earth, or 
survived some deluge, resembled, in all probiibility, 

478 MxnnciPAL ebgime disappeaes. book t. 

those who to-day are the most degraded and the most 
ignorant among men. It would be an evident absur- 
dity to cling to the opinions of those men." Aris- 
' totle, like all the philosophers, absolutely disregards 
the religious origin of human society: he does not 
speak of the prytaneum ; he does not admit that these 
local worships were the foundation of the state. "The 
state," he says, " is nothing else but an association of 
equal beings seeking in common a happy and com- 
fortable existence." Thus philosophy rejects the old 
principles of society, and seeks a new foundation on 
which it may support social laws and the idea of 

The Cynic school goes farther. It denies the ties 
of country itself. Diogenes boasted that he had the 
rights of a citizen nowhere, and Crates said that his 
country was a contempt for the opinions of others. 
The Cynics added this truth, then quite new — that 
man is a citizen of the univei'se, anrl that his country is 
not the narrow territory of a city. They considered 
municipal patriotism as a prejudice, and excluded love 
of the city from the moral sentiments. 

From disgust or disdain, philosophers avoided pub- 
lic affairs more and more. Socrates had fiilfilled 
the duties of a citizen ; and Plato had attempted to 
work for the state by reforming it. Aristotle, still 
more indifferent, confined himself to the part of an 
observer, and made the state an object of scientific 
study. The Epicureans paid no attention to public 
affairs. "Do not meddle with them," said Epicurus, 
"unless some higher power compels you to." The 
Cynics did not wish even to be citizens. 

• Aristotle, Polities, II. 6, 12; IV. 6; 7, 2; VII. 4 (VI. 4). 


The Stoics returned to politics. Zeno, Clcanthes, 
and Chryfflppus wrote numerous treatises on the 
government of states. But their principles were far 
removed from the old municipal politics. These are 
the terms in which one of the ancients speaks of the 
doctrines which their writings contained : " Zeno, in 
his treatise on govertiraent, has undertaken to show us 
that we are not the inhabitants of such a deme, or 
such a city, separated from each other by a particular 
code, or exclusive laws, but that we should see citizens 
in all men, as if we all belonged to the same deme 
and the same city." ' We see from this how far ideas 
had advanced since the age of Socrates, who thought 
himself bound to adore, as far as he was able, the 
gods of the state. Even Plato did not plan any other 
government than that of a city. Zeno passed beyond 
these nan-ow limits of human associations. He dis- 
dained the divisions which the religion of ancient 
ages had established. As he believed in a God of the 
universe, so he had also the idea of a State into which 
the whole human race should enter." 

But here is a still newer principle. Stoicism, by 
enlarging human association, emancipates the indi- 
vidual. As it rejects the religion of the city, it re- 
jects also the servitude of the citizen. It no longer 
desires that the individual man shall be sacrificed 
to the state. It distinguishes and separates clearly 
what ought to remain free in man, and frees at least 
the conscience. It "tells man that he ought to shut 

' Pseudo Plutarch, Fi^riune of Alexander. 1. 

' The idea of the universal city is expressed by Seneca, ad 
Marciam, i, De TranquilHtate, 14 ; by Plutarch, J}e Exsilio ; by 
Marcus Aurelius : " As Antoninus, I have Borne for my country; 
AS a man, the world." 



himself np within himself, to find in himself duty, 
virtue, and reward. It does not forbid him to meddle 
with public affairs; it even invites him to affairs of 
state, still warning him, however, that his principal 
labor ought to have for its object his individual im- 

M provement, and that whatever the government may 
be, his conscience ought to remain free, — a great prin- 
ciple which the ancient city had always disregarded, but 
which was destined to become one of the most sacred 
rules of politics. 
^ Men now begin to understand that there are other 

duties besides those towards the state, other virtues 
besides civic virtue. The mind is attached to other 
objects besides country. The ancient city had been so 
powerful and so tyrannical that man had made it the 
object of all his labor and of all his virtues. It had 
been his standard of the beautiful and the good, and 

^ except for that there was no heroism. But now Zeno 
teaches man that he has a dignity, not as a citizen, but 
as a man ; that besides his obligations to the law, he 
has others to himself; and that the supreme merit is 
not to live or to die for the state, but to be virtuous 

^ and to please the Deity. These were somewhat selfish 
virtues, which left national independence and liberty to 
fall; but they gave the individual more importance. 

s( The public virtues went on declining, while the per- 

' sonal virtues were evolved and came forth into the 
world. They had at first to struggle both against the 
geneial corruption and against despotism. But they 
became rooted in the minds of men by degrees, and, 
as time went on, became a power which every govern- 
ment had to take into account; and it was of the fii-st 
importance that the rules of politics should be modi- 
fied, so that a free place might be made for them. 


Thus were these religious notions transformed, little 
by little ; the municipal religion, the basis of the city, 
disappeared, and the municipal govei'nraents, such as 
the ancients had conceived them, were forced to fall 
with it. Insensibly men departed from those rigorous 
)-ules, and from those narrow forms of government. 
Higher ideas prompted men to form more extensive 
societies. They were attracted towards unity; this 
was the general aspiration for two centuries preceding 
our era. The fruits which these revolutions of knowl- 
edge bore were, it is true, very slow to mature ; but we 
shall see, in studying the Roman conquest, that events 
moved in the same direction with these ideas, that, 
like them, they tended to the ruin of the old municipal 
system, and that they prepared new modes of govern^ 


The Eoman Conquest, 

At first it appears very surprising that among the 
thousand cities of Greece and Italy one was found car 
pable of subduing all the others. Yet this great event 
is due to the ordinary causes that determine the course 
of human affairs. The wisdom of Rome consisted, like 
all wisdom, in profiting by the favorable circumstance 
that fell in its way. 

We can distinguish two periods in the work of the 
Roman conquest. One corresponds to the time when the 
old municipal spirit was still strong; it was then that 
Rome had the greatest number of obstacles to surmount. 
The second belonged to the time when the municij)a] 


spirit was much weakened ; conquest then became easy, 
and was acconiplished rapidly. 

1. The Origin cmd Population of Home. 

The origin of Rome and the composition of its peo- 
ple are worthy of remark. They explain the particu- 
lar character of its policy, and the exceptional part that 
fell to it from the beginning in the midst of other 

The Roman race was strangely mixed. The princi- 
pal element was Latin, and originally from Alba ; but 
these Albans themselves, according to traditions which 
no criticism authorizes us to reject, were composed of 
two associated, but not confounded, populations. One 
was the aboriginal race, real Latins. The other was 
of foreign origin, and was said to have come from Troy 
with ^neas, the priest-founder ; it was, to all appear- 
ance, not numerous,, but was influential from the wor- 
ship and the institutions which it had brought with it.' 

These Albans, a mixture of two races, founded Rome 
on a spot where another city had already been built — 
Pallantium, founded by the Greeks. Now, the popu- 
lation of Pallantium remained in the new city, and the 
rites of the Greek worship were presei-ved there.' There 
was also, where the Capitol afterwards stood, a city 
which was said to have been founded by Hercules, the 
families of which remained distinct from the rest of the 

' The Trojan origin of Rome was a reeeived opinion even before 
Borne was in regular communication with the East. A sooth- 
sayer, in a prediction which related to the second Punic war, 
applied to the Bomans the epithet Trojugena. Livy, XXV. 12. 

» Livy, I. 6. Virgil, VIII. Ovid, Fasti, I. 679. Plutarch, 
Rom. Quest., 66. Strabo, V. p. 230i 

Chap. ii. the eohan conquest. 483 

Roman population during the entire continaahee of the 

Thus at Rome all races were associated and mingled ; 
there were Latins, Trojans, and Greeks ; there were, a 
little later, Sabines and Etrusealns. Of the several 
hills, the Palatine was the Latin city, after having been 
the city of Evander. The Capitoline, after having been 
the dweiling-plac£! of the companions of Hercules, be- 
came the home of the Sabines of TatiuS. The Quirinal 
received its name from the Sabine Quirites, or from the 
Sabine god Quirinus. The CcBlian hill appears to have 
been inhabited from the beginning by Etrnscans." Rorae 
did not seem to be a single city; it appeared like a 
confederation of several cities, each one of which was 
attached by its origin to another confederation. It 
was the centre where the Latins, Etruscans, Sabelluns, 
aad Greeks met. 

Its first king was a Latin ; the second, a Sabine; the 
fifth was, we are told, the son of a Greek; the sixth 
was an Etruscan. 

Its language was composed of the most diverse ele' 
ments. The Latin predominated, but Sabellian roots 
were numerous, and more Greek radicals were found 
in it than in any other of the dialects of Central Italy. 
As to its name, no one knew to what language that be- 
longed. According to some, Rome was a Trojan word ; 
according to others, a Greek word. There are reasons 
for believing it to be Latin, but some of the ancients 
thought it to be Etruscan. 

The names of Roman families also attest a great di- 

> Dionysius, I. 85. Varrp, L. L., V. 42. Virgil, VIII. 35». 

' Of the three names of the primitive tribes, tlie ancients al- 
ways believed th£t one was Latin, another Sabine, and the third 


versity of origin. In the time of Augustus there wert, 
still some fifty families who, by ascending the series of 
their ancestors, arrived at the companions of ^neas.' 
Others claimed to be descendants of the Arcadian 
Evander, and from time immemorial the men of these 
families wore upon their shoes, as a distinctive sign, a 
small silver crescent.' The Potitian and Pinarian fam- 
ilies were descended from those who were called the 
companions of Hercules, and their descent was pi-oved 
by the hereditary worship of that god. The TuUii, 
Quinctii, and Servilii came from Alba after the con- 
quest of that city. Many families joined to their name 
a surname which recalled their foreign origin. There 
were thus the Sulpicii Camerini, the Cominii Arunci, 
the Sicinii Sabini, the Clandii Regillenses, and the 
Aquillii Tusci. The Nautian family was Trojan, the 
Aurelii were Sabines; the Cfficilii came from Prseneste, 
and the Octavii were originally from Velitrse. 

The effect of this mixing of the most diverse nations 
was, that from the beginning Rome was related to all 
the peoples that it knew. It could call itself Latin 
with the Latins, Sabine with the Sabines, Etruscan 
with the Etruscans, and Greek with the Greeks. 

Its national worship was also an assemblage of sev- 
eral quite different worships, each one of which at- 
taclied it to one of these nations. It had the Greek 
worship of Evander and Hercules, and boasted of pos- 
sessing the Trojan Palladium. Its Penates were in the 
Latin city of Lavinium, and it adopted from the begin- 
ning the Sabine worship of the god Consus. Another 
Sabine god, Quirinus, was so firmly established at 
Rome that he was associated with Romulus, its founder. 

' Dionysius, I. 85. • Plutarch, Rom. Quest., 76. 


It had also the gods of the Etruscans, and their fes- 
tivals, and their augurs, and even their sacerdotal in- 

At a time when no one had the right to take part in 
the religious festivals of a nation unless he belonged by 
birth to that nation, the Roman had this incomparable 
advantage of being able to take part in the Latin holi- 
days, the Sabine festivals, the Etruscan festivals, and 
the Olympic games.' Now, religion was a powerful 
bond. When two cities had a single worship, they 
called themselves relations ; they were required to re- 
gard themselves as allies, and to aid each other. In 
ancient times men knew of no other union than that 
which religion established. Rome therefore preserved 
with great care whatever could serve as an evidence 
of this precious relationship with other nations. To 
the Latins it presented its traditions of Romulus ; to 
the Sabines its legend of Tarpeia and Tatiiis; to the 
Greeks it quoted the old hymns which it had preserved 
in honor of Evander's mother, hymns which Romans 
Ao longer understood, but which they persisted in sing- 
ing. They also preserved the recollection of .^neas 
with the greatest care ; for if they could claim relation- 
ship with the Peloponnesians through Evander,'' they 
were related through .^Eneas to more than thirty cities,' 
scattered through Italy, Sicily, Greece, Thrace, and 
Asia Minor, all having had jEneas for a founder, or 
being colonies of cities founded by him, — all having, 
consequently, a common worship with Rome. We can 
see in the wars which they waged in Sicily against 

' Pausinias, V. 23, 24. Comp. Livy, XXIX. 12 ; XXXVII. 37. 
» Pausanias, VIII. 43. Strabo, V. p. 232. 
' Servius, ad ^n., III. 12. 


Carthage, and an Greece against Philip, what advan- 
tage they derived from this ancient relationship. 

The Roman population was, then, a mixture of sev- 
eral races, its worship was an assemblage of several 
worships, and its national hearth an association of sev- 
eral hearths. It was almost the only city whose, mu- 
nicipal religion was not isolated from all others. It 
was related to all Italy and all Greece. There was 
hardly a people that it could not admit to its hearth. 

2. First Aggrandizement of Home {B. C 753-350). 

During the period when the municipal religion was 
everywhere powerful, it governed the policy of Rome. 

We are told that the first act of the new city was to 
seize some Sabine women — a legend which appears 
very improbable when we refl(;ct on the sanctity of 
marriage among the ancients ; but we have seen above 
that the municipal religion forbade marriage between 
persons of different cities unless these two cities had a 
common origin or a common worship. The first Rd- 
mans had the right of intermarriage with Alba, from 
which they originally came, but not with their other 
neighbors, the Sabines. What Romulus wished to ob- 
tain first of all was not a few women ; it was the right 
of intermarriage, ^ that is to say, the right of conti-act- 
ing regular relations with the Sabine population. For 
this purpose a religious bond must be established be- 
tween them ; he therefore adopted the worship of the 
Sabine god Census, and celebrated his festival.' Tra- 
dition adds that during this festival he carried off the 
women. If he had done this, the marriages could mjt 

' Dionysius, II. SO. 


have been celebrated according to the rites, since the 
first and most necessaiy act of the marriage was the 
traditio in manum, — that is to say, the giving away 
of the daughter by the father ; Romulus would have 
failed of his object. But the presence of the Sabines 
and their families at the religious ceremony, and their 
participation in the sacrifice, established between the 
two nations a bond such that the connubium could no 
longer be refused. There was no need of a seizure ; 
the right of intermarriage was a natural consequence 
of tlie festival. And the historian Dionysius, who con- 
sulted ancient documents and hymns, assures us that 
the Sabines were married according to the most solemn 
rites, which is confirmed by Plutarch and Cicero. It 
is worthy of remark that the result of the first effort 
of the Romans was to throw down the barriers wiiich 
the municipal religion had placed between two neigh- 
boring nations. No similar legend relative to Etrnria 
has come down to us, but it appears quite certain that 
Rome had the same relations with that country as 
with Latium and the Sabines. The Romans therefore 
had the address to unite themselves, by worship and 
by blood, with all the nations around them. They 
took care to have the connubium with all the cities ; 
.nnd what proves that they well understood the im- 
portance of this bond is, that they would not permit 
other cities, their subjects, to have it among them- 

Rome then entex-ed upon the long series of its wars. 
The fii-st was against the Sabines of Tatius; it was ter- 
minated by a religious and political alliance between 
these two little nations. It next made war upon Alba, 

» Livy, IX.43; XXIII. 4. 


The historians say that the Romans dared to attack 
this city, though they were a colony from it. It was 
precisely because they were a colony from Alba tha^ 
they judged it necessary to destroy that city. Indeed, 
every metropolis exercised a religious supremacy over 
its colonies, and religion then had so great an influence 
that while Alba remained standing, Eome could be 
only a dependent city, and her progress would be for- 
ever an-ested. 

After the destruction of Alba, Rome was no longer 
content to remain a colony, but claimed to take the 
rank of a metropolis, by inheriting the rights and the 
religions supremacy which up to that time Alba had 
exercised over the thirty colonies of Latium. The Ro- 
mans sustained long wars to obtain the presidency of 
the sacrifice at tlie fericB Latinae. This was a means 
of acquiring tlio single kind of superiority and dominion 
which was understood at that time. 
' They built at home a temple to Diana; they obliged 
the Latins to come and offer sacrifices there, and even 
attracted the Sabines to it." By this means they habit- 
uated these two nations to share with them, under their 
presidency, the festivals, the prayers, and the sacred flesh 
of the victims. Rome thus united them under her re- 
ligious snpremacy. 

Rome was the only city that understood how to 
augment her population by war. The Romans pur- 
sued a policy unknown to the rest of the Grseco-Italian 
world ; they annexed all that they conquered. They 
brought home the inhabitants of captuied cities, and 
gradually made Romans of them. At the same time 
they sent colonists into the conquered countries, and in 

' Livy, I. 43. Dionysius, IV. 48, 49. 


this manner spread Rome everywhere ; for thtr col- 
onists, while forming distinct cities, in a political point 
of view, preserved a religious community with the me- 
tropolis; and this was enough to compel the colonies to 
subordinate their policy to that of Rome, to obey her, 
and to aid her in all her wars. 

One of the remarkable peculiarities of the policy of 
Rome was, that she attracted to her all the worships 
of the neighboring cities. She obtained possession of 
a Juno from Veii, a Jupiter from Prseneste, a Minerva 
from Falerii, a Juno from Lanuvium, a Venus from the 
Samnites, and many others that we do not know.' 
" For it was the custom of the Romans," says one of 
the ancients,' " to take home the religions of the con- 
quered cities ; sometimes they distributed them among 
the gentes, and sometimes they gave them a place in 
their national religion." Montesquieu praises the Ro- 
mans for a refinement of skilful policy in not having 
imposed their gods upon the conquered nations. But 
that would have been contrary to their ideas, and to 
those of all the ancients. Rome conquered the gods 
of the vanquished, and did not give them hers. She 
kept her protectors for herself, and even labored to in- 
crease the number. She tried to possess more worships 
and more tutelary gods than any other city. 

As, moreover, these worships and gods were, for the 
most part, taken from the conquered, Rome was placed 
by them in religious communion with all the surround- 
ing nations. The ties of a common origin, the possession 
of the connubium, that of the presidency of the f&rioe 
LatincB, that of the vanquished gods, the right, which 

' Livy, V. 21, 22; VI. 29. Ovid, Fasti, III. 837, 843 Plu- 
tarch, Parallel of Greek and Roman Hist , 7S. 
• Cincius, cited by Arnobius, Adv. Gentes, III. 38. 


they pretended to have, of sacrificing at Olympia and 
at Delphi, were so many means by which the Romans 
prepared their dominion. Like all the cities, Rome had 
her municipal religion, the source of her patriotism ; 
but she was the only city which made this religion 
serve for her aggrandizement. Whilst other cities were 
isolated by their religion, Rome had the address or the 
good fortune to employ hers to draw everything to 
herself, and to dominate over all. 

3. How Borne acquired Empire {B. C. 350-140). 

Whilst Rome grew thus slowly by the means which 
religion and the ideas of that age placed at her disposal, 
a series of social and political changes was taking place 
in all the cities and in Rome itself, transforming at the 
same time the governments of men and their ways of 
thinking. We have already traced this revolution. 
What is important to remark here is, that it coincides 
with the great development of the Romau power. 

These two results, which took place at the same time, 
were not without influence upon each other. The con- 
quests of Rome would not have been so easy if the old 
municipal spirit had not been everywhere extinct ; and 
we may also believe that the municipal system would 
not have fallen so soon if the Roman conquest had not 
dealt It the final blow. 

In the midst of the changes which took place in in- 
stitutions, in manners, in religious ideas, and in laws, 
patriotism itself had changed its nature; and this is one 
of the events which contributed most to the great prog- 
ress of Rome. We have described this sentiment as it 
was in the first ages of the city. It was a part of re- 
ligion ; men loved their country because they loved its 


protecting gods, because they there found a prytaneur 
a holy fire, festivals, prayers, and hymns, and beeaus 
beyond its borders tliey no longer found either gods c 
a worship. This patriotism was faith and piety. Bi 
when the domination had been withdrawn from th 
sacerdotal caste, this sort of patriotism disappeared wit 
other old religious notions. Love of the city still su 
vived, but it took a new form. 

Men no longer loved their country for its religio 
and its gods ; they loved it only for its laws, for i1 
institutions, and for the rights and security which ; 
afforded its mernbers. We see in the funeral oratio 
which Thucydides puts into the mouth of Pericles whs 
the reasons are that Athens was loved ; they are b( 
cause this city " wishes all to be equal before the law; 
" because she gives men liberty, and opens the ways o 
honor to all ; because she maintains public order, a 
sures authority to the magistrates, protects the weal 
and gives to all spectacles and festivals, which are th 
education of the mind." And the orator closes by saj 
ing, " This is why our warriors have died herqicall 
rather than allow their country to be torn from them 
this is why those who survive are all ready to suffer, an 
to devote themselves for it." Man, therefore, still owe 
duties to the city; but these duties do not flow froi 
the same principle as before. He still gives his bloo 
and his life, but it is no longer to defend his nation; 
divinity and the hearth of his fathers; it is to defen 
the institutions which he enjoys, and the advantage 
which the city procures him. 

Now, this new patriotism had not exactly the sam 
effects as that of the ancient ages. As the heart ws 
no longer attached to the prytaneum, to the protectin 
gods, and to the sacred soil, but simply to the institv 


tions and the laws, — and as, moreover, the latter, in 
the state of instability in which all the cities then found 
themselves, changed frequently, — patriotism became a 
variable and inconsistent sentiment, which depended 
upon circumstances, and which was subject to the same 
fluctuations as the government itself. One loved his 
country only as much as he loved the form of govern- 
ment that prevailed there for the moment ; and he 
who found its laws bad had no longer anything to at- 
tach him to it. 

Municipal patriotism thus became weakened and died 
out in men's minds. Every man's opinion was more 
precious to him than his country, and the triumph of 
his faction became much dearer to him than the gran- 
deur or glory of his city. Each one, if he did not find 
in his own city the institutions that he loved, began to 
prefer some other city, where he saw these institutions 
established. Men then began to emigrate more freely, 
and feared exile less. What did it matter if they were 
excluded from the prytaneum and the lustral water ? 
They thought little now of the protecting gods, and were 
easily accustomed to live away from their country. 

From this to taking up arms against it was not a 
great step. Men joined a hostile city to make their 
party victorious in their own. Of two Ai-gives, one 
preferred an aristocratic government ; he preferred 
Sparta to Argos: the other preferred democracy; he 
preferred Athens. Neither cared a great deal for the 
independence of his own city, and was not much averse 
to becoming the subject of another city, provided that 
city sustained his faction in Argos. It is clear, from 
Thucydides and Xenophon, that it was this disposition 
of men's minds that brought on and sustained the Pelo- 
ponnesian war. At Platasa the rich were of the Theban 


and Lacedemonian party, the democrats were in favor 
of Athens. At Coroyra the popular faction were for 
Athens, and the aristocracy for Sparta.' Athens had 
allies in all the cities of Peloponnesus, and Sparta had 
them in all the Ionian cities. Thucydides and Xeno- 
phon agree in saying that there was not a single city 
where the people were not favorable to the Athenians, 
and the aristocracy to the Spartans." This war rep- 
resents a general eflFort which the Greeks made to 
establish everywhere a single constitution with the 
hegemony of a city; bat a part desired an aristocracy 
under the protection of Sparta, while others favored a 
democracy with the support of Athens. It was the 
same in Philip's time. The aristocratic party, in all 
the cities, desired the domination of Macedon. In 
PhilopcEmen's time the cases were reversed, but the sen- 
timents remained the same ; the popular party accepted 
the empire of Macedon, and all who were in favor of 
the aristocracy joined the Achaean league. Thus the 
wishes and the affections of men no longer had the city 
as the object. There were few Greeks who were not 
ready to sacrifice municipal independence in order to 
obtain the constitution which they preferred. 

As to honest and scrupulous men, the perpetual 
dissensions which they, saw disgusted them with the 
municipal system. They could not love a form of 
society, where it was necessary to fight every day, 
where the rich and the poor were always at war, and 
where they saw popular violence and aristocratic ven- 
geance alternate without end. They wished to escape 
from a regime which, after having produced real gran- 

» Thucydides, 11. 2; III. 65, 70; V. 29, 7G. 
' Thucydides, III. 47. Xenophon, Bell., VI. 3, 


deur, no longer produced anything but suffering and 
hatred. They began to feel the necessity of abandon- 
ing the municipal system, and of arriving at some other 
form of government than the city. Many men dreamed 
at last of establishing above the cities a sort of sover- 
eign power, which should look to the maintenance of 
order, and compel those turbulent little societies to live 
in peace. It was thus that Phocion, a good citizen, ad- 
vised his compatriots to accept the authority of Philip, 
and promised them, at this price, concord and security. 

In ItaJy affairs were in much the same condition as 
in Greece. The cities of Latium, of the Sabines, and of 
Etruria were distracted by the same revolutions and the 
same struggles, and love of the city disappeared. As in 
Greece, every man was ready to join a foreign city, in 
order to make bis opinions and interests prevail in 
his own. 

These dispositions of mind made the fortune of the 
Romans. They everywhere supported the aristocracy ; 
everywhere, too, the aristocracy were their allies. Let 
us take a few examples. The Claudian gens left the 
Sabines because Homan institutions pleased them bet- 
ter than those of their own country. At the same 
epoch many Latin families emigrated to Rome, because 
they did not like the democratic government of Latium, 
and the Romans had just established the reign of the 
palricians.' At Ardea, the aristocracy and the plebs 
being at enmity, the plebs called the Volscians to their 
aidj and the aristocracy delivered the city to the Ro- 
mans.'' Etruria was full of dissensions ; Veii had over- 
thrown her aristocratic government; the Romans at- 
tacked this city, and the other Etruscan cities, where tho 

' Didnjrsius, "VI. 2. ' iJivy, IV. 9, 10. 


Bacei'dotal aristocracy still held sway, refused to aic 
the Veientines. The legend adds that in this war thf 
Romans carried away a Veientine aruspex, and mad* 
him deliver them an oracle that assured them the Tic 
tory. Does not this legend signify that the Etrnscat 
priests delivered the city to the Romans ? 

Later, when Capua revolted against Rome, it wai 
remarked that the knights — that is to say, the aristo 
cratic body — took no part in that insurrection.' In 313 
the cities of Ausona, Sora, MinturnsB, and Yescia wen 
delivered to the Romans by the aristocratic party. 
When the Etruscans were seen to form a coalitioi 
against Rome, it was because popular governments ha( 
been established among them. A single city — that oi 
AiTetium — refused to enter this coalition; and thi 
was because the aristocracy still prevailed in An-etium 
When Hannibal was in Italy, all the cities, were agi 
tated ; but it was not a question of independence. Ii 
every city the aristocracy were for Rome, and the pleb 
for the Carthaginians.' 

The manner in which Rome' was governed will ex 
plain this constant preference which the aristocrac; 
entertained for it. The series of revolutions comtinnei 
as in other cities, but more slowly. In 500,, when th 
Latin cities already had tyrants, a patrician reactio 
had. succeeded at Rome. The democracy rose aftei 
wards, buit gradually, amd with much mioderation an 
self-restraint. The Roman government was, therefon 
for a longer time aristoei'atic than any other, and wa 
long the hope of the aristocratic party. 

The democracy,, it is true,, finally carried the day i 

» Livy, VIII. n. ' LiTy, IX. 24, 25; X. 1. 

' Livy, XXIII. 13, 14, 39 •„ XXXV. 2, 3. 


Rome; but even then the proceedings, and what one 
might call the artifices, of the government remained 
■aristocratic. In the comitia centuriata the votes wei-e 
■flistributed according to property. It was not alto- 
gether diflferent with the comitia tributa : legally, no 
distinction of wealth was admitted there; in fact, the 
poor class, being included in the four city tribes, had 
but four votes to oppose to the thirty-one of the chiss 
of propi-ietors. Besides, nothing was more quiet, ordi- 
narily, than these assemblies; no one spoke there, ex- 
cept the president, or some one whom he called upon. 
Orators were little heard there, and there was little 
discussion. More generally there was simply a vote 
of yes or no. and a count of the votes. This last oper- 
ation, being very complicated, demanded much time 
and patience. Add to this that the senate was not 
renewed annually, as in the democratic cities of Greece ; 
it sat for life, and very nearly recruited itself. It was 
really an oligarchic body. 

The manners of the Romans were still more aristo- 
cratic than their institutions. The senators had seats 
reserved at the theatre. The rich alone served in the 
cavalry ; the grades of the army were in great part 
reserved for the young men of the great families. 
Scipio was not sixteen years old when he already com- 
manded a squadron. 

The rule of the rich class was kept up longer at 
Rome than in any other city. This was due to two 
causes. One was, that Rome made great conquests, and 
the [irofits of these went to the class that was already 
rich ; all lands taken from the conquered were possessed 
by them ; they seized upon the commerce of the con- 
quered countries, and joined with it the benefits derived 
from the collection of duties and the administration of the 


provinces. These families, thus increasing their w ealth 
with every generation, became immeasurably opulent, 
and each one of them was a power, compared with the 
people. The other cause was, that the Roman, even 
the poorest, had an innate respect for wealth. Long 
after real clientship had disappeared, it was, in a certain 
sense, resuscitated under the form of a homage paid to 
great fortunes ; and it became a custom for the poor to 
go every morning to salute the ricjh. 

It does not follow from this that the straggle be- 
tween rich and poor was not seen at Rome, as well as 
in other cities ; but it commenced only in the time of 
the Gracchi, — that is to say, after the conquest was 
almost achieved. Besides, this struggle never had at 
Rome that character of violence which it assumed 
everywhere else. The lower orders of Rome never 
ardently coveted riches. They aided the Gracchi in a 
lukewarm manner; they refused to believe that these 
reformers were working for them, and abandoned'them 
at the decisive moment. The agrarian laws, so often 
presented to the rich as a menace, always left the peo- 
ple quite indifferent, and agitated them, only on the 
surface. It is clear that they were not very eager to 
possess lands; for, if they were offered a share in the 
public lands, — that is to say, in the domain of the 
state, — they at least never had a thought of despoiling 
the rich of their property. Psfftly from inveterate re- 
spect, and partly from a habit of doing nothing, they 
loved to live by the side of the rich, and as it were in 
their shadow. 

The rich class had the wisdom to admit to its circle 

the most considerable families of the subject and allied 

cities. All who were rich in Italy came gradually to 

form the rich class of Rome. This body continued to 



increase in importance, and became the miaster of the 
state. The rich alone filled the magistracies, because 
these cost a great sum to purchase. They alone com- 
posed the senate, because it required a very laige prop- 
erty to be a senator. Thus we see this strange fact, 
that, in spite of democratic laws, a nobility was formed, 
and that the people, who wire all-powerful, suffered this 
nobility to take rank above them, and never made any 
real opijosition to it. 

Rome, therefore, from the third to the second cen- 
tury before our era, was the most aristocratically gov- 
erned city that existed in Italy or Greece. Finally, let 
js lemark that, if the senate was obliged to manage 
;he multitude on home questions, it was absolute master 
io far as concerned foreign affairs. It was the senate 
;hat received ambassadors, that concluded alliances, 
,hat distributed the provinces and the legions, that 
•atified the acts of the generals, that detei-mined the 
jonditions allowed to the conquered — all acts which 
everywhere else, belonged to the popular assembly. 
Foreigners, in their relations with Rome, had, there- 
ore, nothing to do with the people. The senate alone 
ipoke, and the idea was held out that the people had no 
jower. This was the opinion which a Greek expressed 
;o Flaminius. "In your country," said he, "riches 
ilono govern, and all else is submissive to it." ' 

As a result of this, in all the cities the aristocracy 
urned their eyes towards Rome, counted upon it, 
ooked to it for protection, and followed its fortunes. 
This seemed so much the more natural, as Rome was 
i foreign city to nobody ; Sabines, Latins, and Etrus- 
jans saw in it a Sabine, Latin, or Etruscan city, and the 
Greeks recognized Greeks in it. 

' Livy, XXXIV. 31. 


As soon as the Komans appeared in Greece, the 
ristocracy surrendered to them. Hardly anybody 
lought then that they were choosing between inde- 
endence and subjection ; for most men the question 
ras only between aristocracy and the popular party. 
a all the cities the latter was for Philip, Antiochus, 
r Perseus, and the former for Rome. We may see 
1 Polybius and Livy that when Argos opened her 
ates, in B. C. 198, to the Macedonians, the people had 
he sway there ; that the next year, it was the party 
f the rich that gave up Opuntii to the Romans ; that, 
mong the Acarnanians, the aristocracy made a treaty 
f alliance with Rome, and that in the following year 
his treaty was broken, because, in the intei-val, the 
leople had recovered the ascendency ; that Thebes was 
Hied with Philip so long as the popular party had the 
lower, and sided with Rome the moment the aristoo- 
acy became the masters ; that at Athens, at Deme- 
rias, and. at Phocsea the populace were hostile to the 
lomans ; that Nabis, the democrati.o tyrant, made war 
ipon them ; that the Achaean league, as long as it was 
;overned by the aristocracy, was favorable to them; 
hat men like Philopoemen and Polybius desired na- 
ional independence, but preferred Roman rule to 
lemocvacy; that in the Achaean league itself there 
lame a moment when the popular party rose in its 
urn, and from that moment the league was the enemy 
if Rome ; that Diaeus and Critolaus were at the same 
ime the chiefs of the popular faction and the generals 
if the league against the Romans, and that they fought 
•ravely at Scarphea and at Leucopetra, less perhaps 
or the independence of Greece than for the triumph 
if democracy. 

Such facts show clearly enough how Rome, without 


any very great efforts, obtained the empire. The mu- 
nicipal spirit gradually disappeared. The love of 
independence became a very rare sentiment, and all 
hearts were entirely enlisted in the interests and pas- 
sions of parties. Insensibly men forgot the city. The 
barriers which had previously separated cities, and had 
made of thera so many distinct little worlds, whose 
liorizons bounded the wishes and thoughts of every one, 
fell one after another. In all Italy and in all Greece, 
only two groups of men were distinguished : on one 
hand was an aristocratic class, on the other a popular 
party. One party labored for the supremacy of Rome, 
the other opposed it. The aristocracy were victorious, 
and Rome acquired the empire. 

4. Home evert/where destroys the Municipal System. 

The institutions of the ancient city had been weak- 
sued, and almost exhausted, by a series of revolutions. 
One of the first results of the Roman dominion was to 
complete their destruction, and to efface what stUl re- 
mained of them. This we can see by observing the 
jondition into which the nations fell as they became 
subject to Rome. 

We must first banish from our minds all the customs 
3f modern politics, and not picture to ourselves the 
lations entering the Roman state, one after another, 
IS in our day provinces are annexed to a kingdom, 
which, on receiving these new members, extends its 
boundaries. The Roman state {civitas Romano) was 
dot enlarged by conquests; it never included any fam- 
ilies except those that figured in the religious ceremony 
jf the census. The Roman territory (a^er Jtomamcs) 
aever increased. It remained enclosed within the 


immutable limits which the kings had traced for it, 
and which the ceremony of the Amiarvalia sanctified 
every year. What increased with every conquest was 
the domiuipn of Rome (imperium Bamanum) . 

So long as the republic lasted, it never entered the 
mind of any one that the Romans and the other peo- 
ples could form a single nation. Rome might, indeed, 
receive a few of the conquered, allow them to live 
within her walls, and transiorm them, in the course of 
time, into Romans; but she could not assimilate a 
whole foreign people to her people, an entire territory 
to her territory. Still this was not peculiar to the 
policy of Rome, but a principle that held through all 
antiquity; it was a principle from which Rome would 
sooner have departed than any other city, but from 
which she could not entirely free herselfl Whenever, 
therefore, a people was conquered, it did not enter the 
Roman state; it entered only the Roman dominion. 
It was not united to Rome, as provinces are to-day 
united to a capital ; between other nations and itself 
Rome knew only two kinds of connection — subjection 
or alliance. 

From this it would seem that municipal institutions 
must have subsisted among the conquered, and tha,t the 
world must have been an assemblage of cities distinct 
from each other, and having at their head a i-uling city. 
But it was nothing of the kind. The effect of the 
Roman conquest was to work in every city a complete 

On one side were the subjects dedititii, or those 
who, having pronounced the. formula of the deditio, 
had delivered to the Roman people "their persons, 
their walls, their lands, their lyaters, their houses, their 
temples, and their gods.'' 


They had therefore renounced, not only their muni- 
cipal government, but all that appertained to it among 
the ancients, — that is to say, their religion aud their 
private law. From that moment these men no longer 
formed a political body among themselves; nothing 
that goes to make up a regular society remained to 
them. Their city (urbs) might remain standing, but 
the state (civitas) had perished. If they continued to 
live together, they lived without institutions, laws, or 
magistrates. The arbitrary authority of a prcefectus 
sent by Rome maintained material order among them.' 
Dn the other hand were the allies — foederati, or socii. 
rhey were less cruelly treated. The day on which 
;hey entered the Roman dominion, it had been stipu- 
ated that they should preserve their municipal govern- 
ment, and should remain organized into cities. They 
;herefbre continued to have in every city a constitution, 
Tiagistracies, a senate, a prytaneum, laws, and judges. 
The city was supposed to be independent, and seemed 
;o have no other relations with Rome than those of an 
illy with its ally. Still, in the terms of the treaty 
ivhich had been drawn up at the time of the conquest, 
Rome had been careful to insert these words: Majes- 
atempopyli JRomani comiter conservator These terms 
jstablished the dependence of the allied city upon the 
netropolitan city, and as they were very vague, it hap- 
)ened that the measure of this dependence was .nlwaya 
n accordance with the will of the stronger. These 
sities, which were called free, received orders from 
Some, obeyed proconsuls, and paid taxes to the col- 

• Livy, I. 38; VII. 31; IX. 20; XXVI. 16; XXVIII. 34. 
::ieeio, De Lege Agr., I. 6; II. 32. Festus, y. PrafeciuYcB. 

• Cicero, Pro BaXlo, 16. 


lectors of the revenue. Their magistrates irender'ed 
their accounts to the governor of the province, who 
also heard the appeals from the judges.' Now, such 
wiis the nature of the municipal system among the an- 
cients that it needed complete independence, or it 
ceased to exist. Between the maintenance of the in 
stitutions of the city and their subordination to .1 for- 
eign power, there was a contradiction which perhaps 
does not clearly appear to the eyes of the moderns, but 
which must have struck every man of that period. Mu- 
nicipal liberty and the government of Rome were ir- 
reconcilable ; the first could be only an appe.-irance, a 
falsehood, an amusement calculated to divert the minds 
of men. Each of those cities sent, almost every year, a 
deputation to Rome, and its most minute and most pri- 
vate affairs were regulated by the senate. They still 
had their municipal magistrates, their archons, and 
their strategi, freely elected by themselves; but the 
archon no longer had any other duty than to inscribe 
his name on the registers for the purpose of marking 
the year, and the strategus, in earlier times the chief 
of the army and of the state, now had no other care 
tlian to keep the streets in order, and inspect the mar- 

Municipal institutions, therefore, perished among the 
nations that were called allies as well as among those 
that bore the name of subjects ; there was only tiiis 
diflFerence, that the first preserved the exterior forms. 
Indeed, the city, as antiquity had understood it, was no 
longer seen anywhere, except within the walls of Rome. 

' Livy, XLV. 18. Cicero, ad Attic, VI. 1, 2. Appian, Civil 
Wars, I. 102. Tacitus, XV. 45. 

^ Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, I. 23. Boeckh., Corp. 
Inscr., passim. 


Then, too, the Romans, while everywhere destroying 
the municipal system, substituted nothing in its place. 
To the people whose institutions they took away, they 
3id not give their own instead. The Romans never 
thought of creating new institutions for their use; they 
never made a constitution for the people of their em- 
pire, and did not understand how to establish fixed 
rules for their government. Even the authority which 
Rome exercised over the cities had no regularity. As 
they made no part of her state, or of her city, she had 
no legal power over them. Her subjects were strau- 
lers to her — a reason why she exercised this irregular 
md unlimited power which ancient municipal law al- 
lowed citizens to exei-cise towards foreigners and ene- 
mies. It was on this principle that the Roman admin- 
istration was a long time regulated, and this is the 
manner in whiih it was earned on. 

Rome sent one of her citizens into a country. She 
made that country the province of this man, — that is 
bo say, his charge, his own care, his personal afiair; 
this was the sense of the word provincia. At the same 
time she conferred upon this citizen the imperivm / 
this signified that she gave up in his favor, for a deter- 
mined time, the sovereignty which she held over the 
30unti'y. From that time this citizen represented in 
his person all the rights of the republic, and by this 
[iieans he was an absolute master. He fixed the amount 
af taxes ; he exercised the military power, and admin- 
istered justice. His relations with the subjects, or the 
allies, were limited by no constitution. When he sat 
in his judgment-seatjhe pronounced decisions accord- 
ing to his own will ; no law controlled him, neither the 
provincial laws, as he was a Roman, nor the Roman 
laws, as he passed judgment upon provincials. If there 


ere laws between hirn and those that he governed, he 
ad to make them himself, for he alone could bind him- 
jlf. Therefore the imperium with which he was 
lothed included the legislative power ; and thus it 
appened that the governors had the right, and estab- 
shed the custom, on entering the provinces, of pub- 
shing a code of laws, which they called their Edict, 
nd to which they morally promised to conform. But 
8 the governors were changed annually, these codes 
hanged every year, for the reason that the law had its 
uurce only in the will of the man who was for the 
ime invested with the miperium. This princiiDle was 
rigorously applied that, when a judgment had been 
renounced by a governor, but had not been entirely 
xecuted at the time of his departure from the province, 
he arrival of his successor completely annulled this 
udgmeut, and the proceedings were recommenced.' 

Such was the omnipotence of the governor. He was 
he living law. As to invoking the justice of Rome 
gainst his acts of violence or his crimes, the provin- 
ials could not do this unless they could find a Homan 
itizen who would act as their patron ; '^ for, as to them- 
elves, they had no right to demand the protection of 
he laws of the city, or to appeal to its courts. They 
irere foreigners; the judicial and official language called 
hem peregrini ; all that the law said of the hostis con- 
inued to be applied to them. 

The legal situation of the inhabitants of the empire 
ppears clearly in the writings of the Roman juris- 
lonsults. We therie see that the people are considered 
IS no longer having their own laws, and as not yet hav- 
ng those of Rome. For them, therefore, the law 

• Gmus, IV. 103, 105. ' Cicero, De Orat., I. 9. 


did not exist in any manner. In the eyes of tiie Ro- 
man jurisconsult, a provincial was neither husband nor 
father, — that is to say, the law recognized neither his 
marital nor his paternal authority. For him property 
did not exist. It was a double impossibility for. him to 
become a proprietor; it was impossible by leason of 
his personal condition, because he was not a Roman 
citizen, and impossible by reason of the condition of the 
land, because it was not Roman territory, and the law 
admitted the complete right of ownership only within 
the limits of the ager Somanus. For the lawyers 
taught that the land in the provinces was never private 
property, and that men could have only the possession 
and usufruct thereof.' Now, what they said in the sec- 
ond century of our era of the provincial territory had 
been equally true of the Italian soil before Italy ob- 
tained the Roman franchise, as we shall presently see. 

It is certain, then, that the people, as fast as they en- 
tered the Roman empire, lost their municipal religion, 
their government, and their private law. We can easi- 
ly believe that Rome softened in practice whatever was 
destructive in this subjection. We see, indeed, that, 
though the Roman laws did not recognize the paternal 
authority in the subject, they allowed this authority 
still to subsist in practice. If they did not permit a 
certain man to call himself a proprietor of the soil, they 
still allowed him the possession of it; he cultivated his 
land, sold it, and devised it by will. It was not said 
that this land was bis, but they said it was as good as 
his, pro suo. It was not his property, dominium, but it 
was among his goods, in bonis ' Rome thus invented 

' Gaius, II. 7. Cicero, Pro Flacco, 32. 
" Gaius, I. 62; 11. 5, 6, 7. 


for the benefit of the subject a niultitncle of turns and 
artifices of language. Indeed, the Roman genius, if its 
municipal traditions prevented it from making laws for 
the conquered, could not sufier society to fall into dis- 
solution. In principle the provincials were placed out- 
side the laws, while in fact they lived as if they had 
them ; but with the exception of this, and the tolerance 
of the conquerors, all the institutions of the vanquished 
and all their laws were allowed to disappear. The 
Roman empire presented, for several generations, this 
singular spectacle : A single city remained intact, pre- 
serving its institutions and its laws, while all the rest 

— that is to say, more than a hundred millions of souls 

— either had no kind of laws, or had such as were not 
recognized by the ruling city. The world then was 
not precisely in a state of chaos, but force, arbitrary 
rule, and convention, in default of laws and principles, 
alone sustained society. 

Such was the efiect of the Roman conquest on the 
nations that successively became its prey. Of the city 
everything went to ruin ; religion first, then the gov- 
ernment, and finally private law. All the municipal 
institutions, already for a long time shaken, were finally 
overthrown and destroyed ; but no regular society, no 
system of government, replaced at once what had dis- 
appeared. There was a period of stagnation between 
the moment when men saw the municipal governments 
dissolve and that in which another form of society ap- 
peared. The nation did not at once succeed the city, for 
the Roman empire in no wise resembled a nation. It 
was a confused multitude, where there was real order 
only in one central point, and where all the rest en- 
joyed only a factitious and transitory order, and ob- 
tained this only at the price of obedience. The con- 


quered nations succeeded in establishing tliemselves as 
an organized body only by conquering in their turn the 
rights and institutions which Rome was inclined to 
keep for itself. In order to this they had to enter the 
Roman city, make a place for themselves there, presa 
forward, and transform that city also, in order to make 
of themselves and Rome one body. This was a long 
and difficult task. 

5. The Conquered Nations successively enter the 
Roman City. 

We have seen how deplorable was the condition of 
the Roman subject, and how the condition of the citi- 
zen was. to be envied. Not vanity alone, but the most 
real and dearest interests had to suffer. "Whoever was 
not a Roman citizen was not reputed to be either a 
husband or a father; legally he could be neither pro- 
prietor nor heir. Such was the value of the title of 
Roman citizen, that without it one was outside the 
law, and with it he entered regular society. It hap- 
pened, therefore, that this title became the object of the 
most lively desires of men. The Latin, the Italian, the 
Greek, and, later, the Spaniard and the Gaul, aspired 
to be Roman citizens — the single means of having 
rights and of counting for something. All, one after 
another, nearly in the order in which they entered the 
Roman empire, labored to enter the Roman city, and, 
after long efforts, succeeded. This slow introduction 
into the Roman state is the last act in the long history 
of the social transformations of the ancients. To ob- 
serve this gi'eat event in all its successive phases, we 
must exajnine its commencement, in the fourth century 
before our era. 


Latium had been conquered ; of the forty small peo- 
ples who inhabited it, Rome had exterminated half. 
She had despoiled some of their lands, and had left to 
others the title of allies. In B. C. 340 the latter pei-- 
ceived that the alliance was entirely to their detriment, 
that they were expected to obey in everything, and that 
they were required every yeai- to lavish their blood and 
money for the sole benefit of Rome. They formed a 
coalition ; their chief, Annius, thus stated their'demands 
in the Roman senate : " Give us equality. Let us have 
'the same laws; let us form but a single state — una 
eivitas/ let us have but a single name; let us all alike 
be called Romans." Annius thus announced, in the 
year 340, the desirie which all the nations of the empire, 
one after another expressed, and which was to be com- 
plfetely realized only after five centuries and a half. 
Then such a thdught was new and very unexpected ; 
the Romans declared it monstrous and criminal. It 
was, indeed, contrary to the old religion and the old 
law of the cities. The consul, Manlius, replied, that if 
such a proposition should be accepted, he would alay 
with his own hand the first Latin who should come to 
take his seat in the senate ; then, turning towards the 
altar, he called upon the god to witness, saying, " Thott 
hast heard, O Jupiter, the impious Words that have 
come from- this man's mbuth. Canst thou tolerate, O 
Jupiter, that a foreigner should come to sit in thy sa- 
cred temple as a senator, as a consul ?" Thus Manlius 
expressed the old sentiment of repulsion that separated 
the citizen from the foreigner. He was the organ of the 
ancient religious law, which prescribed that the for- 

■gner should be detested by the men because he was 
irsed by the gocis of the city. It appeared to him im- 

ossible that a Latin should be a senator because the 


place of meeting for the senate was a temple, and the 
Roman gods conld not suffer the presence of a foreigner 
in their sanctuary. 

War followed : the Latins, being conquered, sur- 
rendered, — that is to say, they gave up to the Romans 
their cities, their worships, their laws, and their lands. 
Their position was cruel. A consul said in the senate 
that, if they did not wish Rome to be surrounded by a 
vast desert, the fate of the Latins should be settled 
with some regard to clemency. Livy does not clearly 
explain what was done. If We are to trust him, the 
Latins obtained the right of Roman citizenship without 
including in the political privileges the right of suffrage, 
or in the civil the right of marriage. We may also 
note, that these new citizens were not counted in the 
census. It is clear that the senate deceived the Latins 
in giving them the name of Roman citizens. This title 
disguised a real subjection, since the men who bore it 
had the obligations of citizens without the rights. So 
true is this, that several Latin cities revolted, in order 
that this pretended citizenship might be withdrawn. 

A century passed, and, without Livy's notice of the 
fact, we might easily discover that Rome had changed 
her policy. The condition of the Latins having the 
rights of citizens, without suffrage and without connu- 
bium, no longer existed. Rome had withdrawn from 
them the title of citizens, or, rather, had done away with 
this filsehood, and had decided to restore to the dif- 
ferent cities their municipal governments, their laws, 
nnd their magistracies. 

But by a skilful device Rome opened a door which, 
narrow as it was, permitted subjects to enter the Roman 
city. It granted to every Latin who had been a magis- 
trate in his native city the right to become a Roman 


citizen at the expiration of his term of officR.' This 
time the gift of this right was complete and without 
reserve; suffrage, magistracies, census, marriage, pri- 
vate law, all were included. Rome resigned itself to 
share with the foreigner its religion, its government, 
anrl its laws; only its favors Avere individual, and were 
addressed not to entire cities, hut to a few men in each 
of them. Rome admitted to her bosom only what was 
best, wealthiest, and most estimable in Latiiim. 

This right of citizenship then became precious, first, 
because it was complete, and secondly, because it was 
a privilege. Through it a man figured in the comitia 
of the most powerful city of Italy; he might be consul 
and commander of the legions. There was also the 
means of satisfying more inodest ambitions; thanks to 
this right, one might ally himself, by marriage, to a 
Roman family; or he might take up his abode at Rome, 
and become a proprietor there ; or he might carry on 
trade in Rome, which had already become one of the 
first commercial towns in the world. One might enter 
the company of farmers of the revenue, — that is to say, 
take a part in the enormous profits which accrued from 
the collection of the revenue, or from speculations in 
the lauds of the ager puhlicus. Wherever one lived 
he was efiectually protected ; he escaped the authority 
of the municipal magistrate, and was sheltered from 
the caprices of the Roman magistrates themselves. By 
being a citizen of Rome, a man gained honor, wealth, 
and security. 

The Latins, therefore, became eager to obtain this 
title, and used all sorts of means to acquire it. One 
day, when Rome wished to appear a little severe, she 

? Appian, Civil Wars, II. 26. 

512 MUNICIPAL eegime'disappeaes. book v. 

found that twelve thousand of them had obtained it 
through fraud. 

Ordinarily, Rome shut her eyes, knowing that by this 
means her population increased, and that the losses of 
war were thus repaired. But the Latin cities snifered ; 
their richest inhabitants became Roman citizens, and 
Latium was impoverished. The taxes, from which the 
richest were exempt as Roman citizens, became more 
and more burdensome, and the contingent of soldiers 
that had to be furnished to Rome was every year more 
difficult to fill up. The larger the number of those who 
obtained the Roman franchise, the harder was the 
lot of those who had not that right. There came a 
time when the Latin cities demanded that this fran- 
chise should cease to be a privilege. The Italian cities, 
which, having been conquered two centuries before, 
were in nearly the same condition as those of Latium, 
and also saw their richest inhabitants abandon them to 
become Romans, demanded for themselves the Roman 
franchise. The fate of stibjects and allies had become 
all the less supportable at this period, from the fact that 
the Roman democracy was then agitating the great 
question of the agrarian laws. Now, the principle of 
all these laws was, that neither subject nor ally could 
be an owner of the soil, except by a formal act of the 
city, and that the gi-eater part of the Italian lands be- 
longed to the republic. One party demanded, there- 
fore, that these lands, which were nearly all occupied 
by Italians, should be taken back by the state, and dis- 
tributed among the poor of Rome. Thus the Italians 
were menaced with general ruin. They felt keenly 
the need of civil rights, and they could only come into 
possession of these by becoming Roman citizens. 

The war that followed was called the social war; 


the allies of Rome took np arms that they might no 
longer be allies, but might become Romans. Rome, 
though victorious, was still constrained to grant what 
was demanded, and the Italians received the rights of 
citizenship. Thenceforth assimilated to the Romans, 
they could vote in the forum ; in private life they were 
governed by Roman laws ; their right to the soil was 
recognized, and the Italian lands, as well as Roman 
soil, could be owned by them in fee simple. Then was 
established the jus Itdlicum: this was the law, not df 
■the Italian person, since the Italian had become a Ro- 
man, but of the Italian soil, which was susceptible of 
ownership, just as if it had been the ager Momanus.' 

From that time all Italy formed a single state. 
There still remained the provinces to enter into the 
Roman nnity. 

We must make a distinction between Greece and 
the provinces of the west. In the west were Gaul and 
■Spain, which, before the conquest, knew nothing of 
the real municipal system. The Romans attempted 
to create this fonn of government among them, either 
thinking it impossible to govern them otherwise, or 
judging that, in order gradually to assimilate them to 
the Italian nations, it would be necessary to maike them 
pass over the same route which the Italians had fol- 
lowed. Hence it happened that the emperors who 
suppressed all political life at Rome, kept up the forms 
of municipal liberty in the provinces. Thus cities were 
formed in Gaul ; each had its senate, its aristocratic 
body, its elective magistrates; each had even its locnl 
worship, its "Genius, and its city-protecting divinity, 
After the manner of those in ancient Greece and an- 

' Thenceforth also called res mancipi. See tJlpian. 


cient Itnly. Now, tliis municipal system, thus estab- 
lished, did not prevent men from nniving at the Roman 
citizenship ; on the contrary, it prepared them for it. A 
gradation, skilfully arranged among these cities, marked 
the steps by which they were insensibly to approach 
Rome, and finally to become assimilated with it. 
There were distinguished, first, the allies, who had a 
government and laws of their own, and no legal bond 
with Roman citizens ; second, the colonies, which en- 
joyed the civil rights of the Romans, without having 
political rights; third, the cities of the Italian right, — 
that is to say, those to whom, by the favor of Rome, the 
complete right of property over their lands had been 
granted, as if these lands had been in Italy; fourth, 
the cities of the Latin right, — that is to say, those 
whose inhabitants could, following the custom formerly 
established in Latium, become Roman citizens after 
having held a municipal office. These distinctions were 
so deep, that between persons of two diiferent classes 
no marriage or other legal relation was possible. But 
the emperors took care that the cities should rise in 
the course of time, and one after another, from the 
condition of subjects or allies, to the Italian right, fi-om 
the Italian right to the Latin right. When a city 
had arrived at this point, its principal families became 
Romans one after another. 

Greece entered just as little into the Roman state. 
At first every city preserved the forms and machinery 
of the municipal government. At the moment of the 
conquest, Greece showed a desire to preserve its au- 
tonomy ; and this was left to it longer, perhaps, than 
it would have wished. At the end of a few generations 
it aspired to become Roman ; vanity, ambition, and 
interest worked for this. 


The Greeks had not for Rome that hatred which is 
usually borne towards a foreign master. They admired 
it ; they had a veneration for it ; of their own accord 
they devoted a worship to it, and built temples to it as 
to a god. Every city forgot its protecting divinity, and 
worshipped in its place the goddess Rome and the god 
Caesar; the greatest festivals were for them, and the 
first magistrates had no higher duty than celebrating 
with great pomp the Augustan games. Men thus be- 
came accustomed to lift their eyes above their cities ; 
they saw in Rome the model city, the true country, 
the piytaneum of all nations. The city where one was 
born seemed small. Its interests no longer occupied 
their minds; the honors which it conferred no longer 
satisfied their ambition. Men thought themselves noth- 
ing if they were not Roman citizens. Under the em- 
perors, it is true, this title no longer conferred political 
fights ; but it offered more solid advantages, since the 
man who was clothed with it acquired at the same 
time the full right to hold property, the right to inherit, 
the right to marry, the paternal authority, and all the 
private rights of Rome. The laws which were found 
in each city were variable and without foundation; 
they were merely tolerated. The Romans despised 
them, and the Greeks had little respect for them. In 
order to have fixed laws, recognized by all as truly sa- 
cred, it was necessary to have those of Rome. 

We do not see that all Greece, or even a Greek city, 
formally asked for this right of citizenship, so much de- 
sired; but men worked individually to acquire it, and 
Rome bestowed it with a good grace.' Some obtained 
it through the favor of the emperor; others bought it. 
It was granted to those who had three children, or 
who served in certain divisions of the army. Somer 


times to construct a mercliant vessel of a certain ton- 
nage, or to carry grain to Rome, was sufficient to ob- 
tain it. An easy and prompt means of acquiring it 
was to sell one's self as-a slave to a Roman citizen, for 
tlie act of freeing him according to legal forms con- 
ferred the right of citizenship.' One who had the title of 
Roman citizen no longer formed a part of his native 
city, either civilly or politically. He could continue to 
live there, but he was considered an alienj he was no 
longer subject to the laws of the city, he no longer 
obeyed its magistrates, no longer supported its pe- 
cuniary burdens.' This was a consequence of the old 
principle, which did not permit a man to belong to two 
cities at the same time." It naturally happened that, 
after several generations, there were in every Greek 
oity quite a large number of men, and these ordinarily 
the wealthiest, who recognized neither its government 
nor its laws. Thus slowly, and as if by a natui-al death, 
peiished the municipal system. There came a time 
when the city was a mei-e framework that contained 
nothing, where the local laws applied to hardly a per- 
son, where the judges no longer had anything 
to adjudicate upon. 

Finally, when eight or ten generations had sighed 
for the Roman fi-anchise, and;all those who were of any 
account had obtained it, there appeared an imperial 

' Suetonius, Nero, 24. Petronius, 67. Ulpian, III. Gaius, 
I. 16, 17. 

^ He became an alien even in respect to his own family, if it 
had not, like him, tlie right of citizenship. He did not inherit 
its property. Pliny, Panegyric, 37. 

' Cicero, Pro Ballo, 28 ; Pro Archia, 6 ; Pro Ccecina, 36. 
Cornelius Nepos, Attieus, 3. Greece long before had abandoned 
this principle, but Rome held faithfully to it. 


decree -which granted it to all free men without dis- 

What is remarkable here is, that no one can tell the 
date of this decree or tlie name of the prince who is- 
sued it. The honor is given, with some probability of 
truth, to Caraealla, — that is to say, to a prince who 
never had very elevated views ; and this is attributed 
to him as simply a fiscal measure. We meet in history 
with few more important decrees than this. It abol- 
ished the distinction whicli had existed since the Ro- 
man conquest between the dominant nation and the 
subject peoples ; it oven caused to disappear a much 
older distinction, which I'eligion and law had made be- 
tween cities. Still the historians of that time took no 
note of it, and all we know of it we glean from two 
vague passages of the juiisconsults and a short notice in 
Dion Cassius.^ If this decree did not strike contempo- 

' " Attloninits Km jus Romanm civUaHs omniiiis subj^ctis. 
dona/cit." Justinian, Noliets, 7S, ch. 5. " iji orbe Romano qu/i 
sunt, ex constitutione imperatoris Anionini, cives Romani effiecti 
sunt." Ulpian, in Digest, I. tit. 6, 17. It is known, moreover, 
from Spartianus, that Caraealla was called Antoninus in official 
acts. Dion Cassius says that Caraealla gave all the inhabitants 
of the empire the Roman franchise in order to make general the 
impost of tithes on enfranchisements and successions. The dis- 
tinction between peregrini, Latins, and citizens did not entirely 
disappear; it is found in Ulpian and in the Code. Indeed, it 
appeared natural that enfranchised slaves should not imme- 
diately become Roman citizens, but should pass through all the 
old grades that separated servitude from citizenship. We als j 
judge from certain indications that the distinction between the 
Italian lands and the provincial lands still continued for a long 
time. (Code, VII. 25; VII. 31; X. 39. Digest, L. tit. 1.) 
Thus the city of Tyre, in Phoenicia, even later thail Caraealla, 
enjoyed as a privilege the jus Italieum.. (^Digest, IV. 15.) The 
continuance of this distinction is explained by the interest of the 


raries, and was not remarked by those who then wrote 
history, it is because the change of which it was the 
legal expression had been accomplished long before. 
The inequality between citizens and subjects had been 
lessened every generation, and had been gradually ef- 
faced. The decree might jiass unperceived under the 
Teil of a fiscal measure ; it proclaimed and caused to 
pass into the domain of law what was already an ac- 
complished fact; 

The title of citizen then began to fall into desuetude ; 
o)', if it was still employed, it was to designate the con- 
dition of a free man as opposed to that of a slave. 
From that time all that made a part of the Roman em- 
pire, from Spain to the Euphrates, formed really one 
people and a single state. The distinction between 
cities had disappeared; that between nations still ap- 
peared, but was hardly noticed. All the inhabitants of 
this immense empire were equally Romans. The Gaul 
abandoned his name of Gaul, and eagerly assumed that 
of Roman; the Spaniard, the inhabitant of Thrace, or 
of Syria, did the same. There was now but a single 
name, a single country, a single government, a single 
code of laws. 

We see how the Roman city developed from age to 
age. At first it contained only patricians and clients; 
afterwards the plebeian class obtained a place there; 
then came the Latins, then the Italians, and finally the 
provincials. The conquest had not sufficed to work 
this great change ; the slow transfoimation of ideas, 
the prudent but uninterrupted concessions of the em- 
perors, and the eagerness of individual interests had 
been necessary. Then all the cities gradually disajj- 

emperors, who did not wish to be deprived of the tribute which 
the provincial lands paid into the treasury. 


pearecl, and the Roman city, the last one left, was it- 
self so transformed that it became the union of a dozen 
great nations under a single master. Thus fell the mu- 
nicipal system. 

It does not belong to our plan to tell by what system 
of government this was replaced, or to inquire if this 
change was at first more advantageous than unfortu- 
nate for the nations. We must stop at the moment 
when the old social forms which antiquity had estab- 
lished were forever effaced. 

Christianity changes the Conditions of Government. 

Thk victory of Christianity marks the end of ancient 
society. With the new religion this social transforma- 
tion, which we saw begun six or seven centuries earlier, 
was completed. 

To understand how much the principles and the es- 
sential rules of politics were then changed, we need 
only recollect that ancient society had been established 
by an old religion whose principal dogma was that 
every god protected exclusively a single family or a 
single city, and existed only for that. This was the 
time of the domestic gods and the city-protecting di- 
vinities. This religion had produced laws; the rela- 
tions among men — property, inheritance, legal pro- 
ceedings — all were regulated, not by the principles of 
natural equity, but by the dogmas of this religion, and 
with a view to the requirements of its worship. It was 
this religion that had established a government among 


men ; that of the father in the family; that of the king 
or magistrate in the city. All had come from religion, 
— that is to say, from the opinion that man had enter- 
tained of the divinity. Religion, law, and government 
were confounded, and had been but a single thing un- 
der three different aspects. 

We have sought to place in a clear light this social 
system of the ancients, where reli^on. was absolute 
master, both in public and private life; where the state 
was a religious community, the king a pontiff, the ma- 
gistrate a priest, and the law a sacred formula ; where 
patriotism was piety, and exile excommunication; 
where individual liberty was unknown ; where man 
was enslaved to tlie state through his soul, his body, 
and his property; where the notions of law and of duty, 
of justice and of affection, were bounded within the 
limits of the city; where humdn association was neces- 
saiily confined within a certain circumference around 
a prytaneum ; and where men saw no possibility of 
founding larger societies. Such were the character- 
istic traits of the Greek and Italian cities during the 
first period of their history. 

But little by little, as we have seen, society became 
modified. Changes took place in government and in 
laws nt the same time as in religious ideas. Already, 
in the f.fth century which preceded Christianity, the 
alliiince was no longer so close between religion on the 
one hand and law and politics on the other. The ef- 
forts of the oppressed classes, the overthrow of the 
sncei'dotal class, the labors of philosophers, the progress 
of thought, had unsettled the ancient principles of hu- 
man association. Men had made incessant efforts to 
free themselves from the thraldom of this old religion, 
in which they could no longer believe ; law and politics, 


aa well as morals, in the course of time wore freed from 
its fetters. 

But this species of divorce came from the disappear- 
ance of the ancient religion ; if law and politics began 
to be a little more independent, it was because men 
ceased to have religious beliefs. If society was no 
longer governed by religion, it was especially because 
this religion no longer had any power. But there 
came a day when the religious sentiment recovered 
life and vigor, and when, under the Christian form, be- 
lief regained its empire over the soul. Were men not 
then destined to see the reappearance of the ancient 
confusion of government and the priesthood, of faith 
and the law ? 

With Christianity not only was the religious senti- 
ment revived, but it assumed a higher and If ss material 
expression. Whilst previously men had made for them- 
selves gods of the human soul, or of the great forces of 
nature, they now began to look upon God as really for- 
eign by his essence, from human nature on the one . 
hand, and from the world on the other. The divine 
Being was placed outside and above physical nature. 
Whilst previously every man had made a god for him- 
self, and there were as many of them as there were 
families and cities, God now appeared as a unique,^ im- 
mense, universal being, alone animating the worlds, 
alone able to supply the need of adoration that is in 
man. Religion, instead of being, as formerly among 
the nations of Greece and Italy, little more than an as- 
semblage of practieesi a series of rites which men re- 
peated without having any idea of them, a succession 
of formulas which often were no longer understood be^- 
cause the language had grown old, a tradition which 
bad been transmitted from age to age, and which owed 


its sacred character to its antiquity alone, — was no\<^a 
collection of doctrines, and a great object proposed to 
faith. It was no longer exterior; it took up its abode 
especially in the thoughts of man. It was no longer 
matter; it became spirit. Christianity changed the 
nature and the form of adoration. Man no longer of- 
fered God food and drink. Prayer was no longer a 
form of incantation ; it was an act of faith and a humble 
petition. The soul sustained another relation with the 
■divinity ; the fear of the gods was replaced by the love 
of God. 

Christianity introduced other new ideas. It was not 
the domestic religion of any family, the national reli- 
gion of any city, or of any race. It belonged neither 
to a caste nor to a corporation. From its first appear- 
ance it called to itself the whole human race. Christ 
said to his disciples, " Go ye into all the world, and 
preach the gospel to every creature.'' 

This principle was so extraordinary, and so unex- 
pected, that the first disciples hesitated for a moment ; 
we may see in the Acts of the Apostles that several of 
them refused at first to propagate the new doctrine 
outside the nation with which it had originated. These 
disciples thought, like the ancient Jews, that the God 
of the Jews would not accept adoration from foreign- 
ers ; like the Romans and the Greeks of ancient times, 
they believed that every race had its god, that to propa- 
gate the name and worship of this god was to give up 
one's own good and special protectoi", and that such a 
work was contrary at the same titne to duty and to in- 
terest. But Peter replied to these disciples, "God gave 
the gentiles the like gift as he did unto us." St. Paul 
loved to repeat this grand principle on all occasions, 
and in every kind of form. « God had opened the door 


of faith unto the gentiles." « Is he the God of the ' 
Jews, only ? Is he not also of the gentiles ? " " We 
are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or 

In all this there was something quite new. For, 
everywhere, in the first ages of humanity, the divinity 
had been imagined as attaching himself especially to 
one race. The Jews had believed in the God of the 
Jews ; the Athenians in the Athenian Pallas ; the Ro- 
mans in Jupiter Capitolinus. The right to practise a 
worship had been a privilege. 

The foreigner had been repulsed from the temple ; 
one not a Jew could not enter the temple of the Jews ; 
the Lacedaemonian had not the right to invoke the 
Athenian Pallas. It is just to say, that, in the five cen- 
turies which preceded Christianity, all who thought 
were struggling against these narrow rules. Philoso- 
phy had often taught, since Anaxagoras, that the god 
of the universe received the homage of all men, without 
distinction. The religion of Eleusis had admitted the 
initiated from all cities. The religion of Cybele, of 
Serapis, and some others, had accepted, without dis- 
tinction, worshippers from all nations. The Jews had 
begun to admit the foreigner to their religion ; the 
Greeks and the Romans had admitted him into their 
cities. Christianity, coming after all this progress in 
thought and institutions, presented to the adoration of 
all nr.en a single God, a universal God, a God who be- 
longed to all, who had no chosen people, aud who made 
no distinction in races, families, or states. 

For this God there were no longer strangers. The 
stranger no longer profaned the temple, no longer 
tainted the sacrifice by his presence. The temple was 
open to all who believed in God. The priesthood 


ceased to be hereditary, because religion was no longeir 
a patrimony. The worship was no longer kept secret ; 
the rites, the prayers, the dogmas were no longer con- 
cealed. On the contrary, there was thenceforth religious 
instruction, which was not only given, but which was 
offered, which was careied to those who were the far- 
thest away, and which sought out the most indifferent. 
The spirit of propagandism replaced the law of ex- 

Froniithis great consequences flowed, as well for the 
relations between nations as for the government of 

Between nations religion no longer commanded 
hatred; it no longer made it the citizen's duty to 
detest the foreigner; its very essence, on the contrary, 
was to teach him that towards the stranger, towards 
the enemy, he owed the duties of justice, and even of 
benevolence. The barriera between nations or races 
were thus thrown down ; the pomoerium disappeared. 
" Christ," says the: apostle^. " hath broken down the 
middle wall of partition between us." " But now are 
they many members," he also says, "yet but one 
body." " There is neitker Greek nor Jew, circumcision 
nor uncircuracision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free : 
but Christ is all, and in all." 

The. people were also taught that they were all de- 
scended from the same common fother. With the unity 
of God, the unity of the human race also appeared to 
men's minds; and it was thenceforth a religious neces- 
sity to forbid men to hate each other.- 

As to the government of the state, we cannot say 
that Christianity essentially altered that, precisely be- 
cause it did not occupy itself with the state. In the 
ancient ages, religion and thestate made bat one; every 


people adored its own god, and every god governed his 
own people ; the same code regulated the relations 
among men, and their duties towards the gods of the 
city. Religion then governed the state, and designated 
its chiefs by the voice of the lot, or by that of the auspices. 
The state, in its turn, interfered with the domain of the 
conscience, and punished every infrjictioti of the rites 
and the worship of tlie city.. Instead of this, Christ 
teaches that his kingdom is not of this world. He 
separates Teligion from government. Religion, being 
no longer of the earth, now interferes the least possible 
in tea-restrial affairs. Christ adds, "Render to Caesar 
the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that 
are God's." It is the fii-st time that God and the state 
are so clearly distinguished. For CsBsar at that period 
was still the ponUfex maximvs, the chief and the prin- 
cipal organ of the Roman religion ; he was the guardian 
and the interpreter of belief's. He held the worship 
and tlie dc^mas in his hands. Even his person was 
sacred and divine, for it was a peculiarity of the policy 
of the emperors that, "wishing to recover the attributes 
of .ancient royalty, they were careful not to forget the 
divine character whicli antiquity had attached to the 
^g-pontiffs and to the rpfl-iest-founders. But now 
Cluist breaks the alliance which paganism and the em- 
pire wished to renew. He proclaims that religion is no 
longer 1iie state, and that to ob^'y Caesar is no longer 
the same thing as to obey God. 

Christianity completes the overthrow of the local 
worship ; it extinguishes the prytanea, and complete- 
ly destroys the city^^protecting divinities. It does 
more ; it refuses to assume the empire which these wor- 
ships had exercised over <sivil society. It ipi'ofeBBes that 
between the state and itselfthere is nothing in common. 


It separates what all antiquity had confounded. We 
may remark, moreover, that during three centuries the 
new religion lived entirely beyond the action of the 
state ; it knew how to dispense with state protection, 
and even to struggle against it. These three centuries 
established an abyss between the domain of the gov- 
ernment and the domain of religion ; and, as the recol- 
lection of this period could not be effaced, it followed 
that this distinction became a plain and incontestable 
truth, which the efforts even of a part of the clergy 
could not eradicate. 

This principle was fertile in great results. On one 
hand, politics became definitively fi-eed from the strict 
rules which the ancient religion had traced, and could 
govern men without having to bend to sacred usages, 
without consulting the auspices or the oracles, without 
conforming all acts to the beliefs and requirements of a 
worship. Political action was freer ; no other authority 
than that of the moral law now impeded it. On the 
other hand, if the state was more completely master in 
certain things, its action was also more limited. A 
complete half of man had been freed from its control. 
Christianity taught that only a part of man belonged to 
society ; that he was bound to it by his body and by his 
material intei-ests; that when subject to a tyrant, it 
was his duty to submit ; that as a citizen of a republic, 
he ought to give his life for it, but that, in what re- 
lated to his soul, he was free, and was bound only to 

Stoicism had already marked this separation ; it had 
restored man to himself, and had founded liberty of 
conscience. But that which was merely the effort of 
the energy of a courageous sect, Christianity made a 
universal and unchangeable rule for succeeding genera- 


tions ; what was only the consolation of a few, it made 
the common good of humanity. 

If, now, we recollect what has been said above on 
the omnipotence of the states among the ancients, — 
if we bear in mind how far the city, in the name of its 
sacred character and of religion, which was inherent in 
it, exercised an absolute empire, — we shall see that this 
new principle was the source whence individual lib- 
ei'ty flowed. 

The mind once freed, the greatest difliculty was over 
come, and liberty was compatible with social order 

Sentiments and manners, as well as politics, were then 
changed. The idea which men had of the duties of 
the citizen were modified. The first duty no longer 
consisted in giving one's time, one's strength, one's life to 
the state. Politics and war were no longer the whole 
of man ; all the virtues were no longer comprised in 
patriotism, for the soul no longer had a country. Man 
felt that he had other obligations besides that of living 
and dying for the city. Christianity distinguished the 
private from the public virtues. By giving less honor 
to the latter, it elevated the former ; it placed God, the 
family, the human individual above country, the neigh- 
bor above the city. 

Law was also changed in its nature. Among all 
ancient nations law had been subject to, and had re- 
ceived all its rules from, religion. Among the Persians, 
the Hindus, the Jews, the Greeks, the Italians, and the 
Gauls, the law had been contained in the sacred books 
or in religious traditions, and thus every religion had 
made laws after its own image. Christianity, is the first 
religion that did not claim to be the source of law. It 
occupied itself with the duties of men, not with their 
interests. Men saw it regulate neither the laws of 


property, nor tlie order of succession, nor obligations, 
nor legal proceedings. It placed itself outside the law, 
and outside all things purely teiTostrial. Law was In- 
dependent; it could draw its rules from nature, from 
the liuman conscience, from the powerful idea of the 
just that is in men's minds. It could develop in com- 
plete liberty ; could be reformed and improved without 
obstacle ; could follow the progress of morals, and could 
conform itself to the interests and social needs of every 

The happy influence of the new idea is easily seen in 
the history of Roman law. During several centuries 
preceding the triumph of Christianity, Roman law had 
already been stri\ing to disengage itsL'lf from reli- 
gion, and to approach natural equity ; but it proceeded 
only by shifts and devices, which enervated and en- 
feebled its moral authority. The work of regenerating 
legislation, announced by the Stoic philosophere, pur- 
sued by the noble eflforts of Roman jurisconsults, out- 
lined by the artifices and expedients of the pretor, 
could not completely succeed except by favor of the 
independence which the new religion allowed to the - 
law. We can see, as Christianity gained ground, that 
tlie Roman codes admitted new rules no longer by 
subterfuges, but openly and without hesitation. The 
domestic penates having been overthrown, and the 
sacred fires extinguished, the ancient constitution of 
the family disappeared forever, and with it the rules 
that had flowed from this source. The father had lost 
the absolute authority which his priesthood had fomier- 
ly given him, and preserved only that which nature 
itself had conferred upon him for the good of the child. 
The wife, whom the old religion placed in a position 
inferior to the husband, became morally his equal. The 


laws of property were essentially altered ; the sacred 
landmarks disappeared from the fields; the right of 
property no longer flowed from religion, but from labor ; 
its acquisition became easier, and the formalities of the 
ancient law were definitively abolished. 

Thns, by the single fact that the family no longer 
had its domestic religion, its constitution and its laws 
were transformed ; so, too, from the single fact that the 
state no longer had its ofiicial religion, the rales for 
the government of men were forever changed. 

Our study must end at this limit, which separates 
ancient from modern polities. We have written the 
history of a belief. It was established, and human 
society was constituted. It was modified, and society 
underwent a series of revolutions. It disappeared, and 
society changed its character. Such was the law of 
ancient times.