General History in Outline and Story
IV . THE GREAT DAYS OF ROME
18 . STORIES OF EARLY ROME.
When the Greeks sent out their colonies to make new towns in the south of Italy,they came across another Indo-European group. This was the Latins, or men of Latium, whose chief town was Rome. In time this little nation made the great Roman Empire, and went on with the work of the Greeks by planting art ad learning to all parts of that Empire.
There were other peoples in Italy in addition to the Latins -- for example, in the north were the Etruscans, who had come from Asia ; in the mountains were the Sabines, and so on. Rome was at first a small town near the mouth of the river Tiber, circled by its 'Seven Hills,' which kept it sage from attacks. When the town became greater, walls were put up round these slopes. The old story give the year of the building of Rome as 735 B.C., about twenty years after the first Olympic competition in Greece. It was named after Romulus, who, with his brother Remus, it was said, had been ordered to put to death at birth. The two babies were placed in a basket on the Tiber, but the river came up over its sides and sent the basket to the land. There a she-wolf, like the one in the picture, came across the brothers, took them to her hole, and gave them milk, and so they safe. When they were men, Romulus put Remus to death and became the first King of Rome.
For the first two hundred and fifty years of its history the little town of Rome was ruled by Kings. The rule of the seventh king, Tarquin, was bad and cruel, and at last the Romans got an army together and put him to flight. Tarquin went to the Etruscans for help, and came back with a great force to take Rome. Only the narrow bridge of wood over the Tiber was between him and the town when, in this hour of danger, Horatius came forward, and by one of the great acts of history kept his country safe. Taking up his position at the outer end of the bridge with two other men, he kept the attacking army off while the Romans were cutting the bridge down. When the last support was giving way, his two helpers went running back across the falling bridge, but Horatius kept his place till the destruction was complete. Then jumping into the water, he sent up a cry for help to the god of the river : "Oh ! Father Tiber, have me in your care this day," and swimming the current, with the Etruscan arrows falling all round him, he got safely to the other side.
Their early history put the Romans against Kings, and they had no love for them ever after. In 508 B.C. Rome became a 'republic,' a town without a King, and this was its form of government for five hundred years. Every year selection was made of two 'consuls' to be at the head of the government in place of a King. The ruling body was the 'Senate,' which was made up of representatives of the great families of Rome. When they went to the meetings of the senate they put on the 'toga,' a loose dress made of wool, hanging in beautiful folds round the body, which was used only by those having full political rights.
For some years there were bitter arguments between the 'Patricians,'or those of high birth, and the 'Plebs,' or common men. In time, however, the Plebs were given certain rights, and not long after the republic was started they had two representatives (493 B.C.) whose work it was to take care of their interests.
But though there were divisions among them, all free Romans were united in support of the republic in times of danger. This is well seen in the story of Cincinnatus. While he was consul his son, who had been sent away from Rome for certain crimes, came back against orders with his friends, and the Romans put them all to death. Sad at heart, at the end of his year as consul Cincinnatus went back to his farm, and took no further part in political work. A short time later, Roman lands were attacked by the Aequians, a near-by group, and when the Roman army went out against them, it was cut off between two mountains, and only five Roman horsemen got away to give the news of its danger to the Senate. "There is only one man with the power to keep Rome safe," they said. "Our one chance is to make Cincinnatus Dictator-- give him complete control of Rome."
Cincinnatus was a hardworking man of simple tastes who had no desire for money, and he was living quietly on his small farm near the river Tiber. In the early morning the Senate sent their representatives to him with the news that he was to be made Dictator. They went across the river and came to his house, and there they saw him, without his toga, working with his spade in the fields.
They made him a sign of respect, and said, "We have news for you from the Senate. Put on your toga so that you may be rightly clothed for hearing it." Then he said, "Is Rome in Trouble?" and sent for his toga. When he had put it on he went to the representatives, who said "We are your servants ! The Senate has made you Dictator, and sends for you to come to Rome ; the consul and the army are in very great danger."
A boat was made ready to take him over the Tiber, and when he came to Rome his three sons, all his relations and friends, and most of the Senate were there waiting for him. He was taken through the streets to his house like a King, with twenty-four 'lictors,' or men armed with rods, walking before him. The public was there in thousands to see him, but they went in fear of the lictors, because their rods were a sign that the power of the Dictator was as great as that of the early Kings.
First Cincinnatus went to the market-place and gave orders that all stores were to be shut, and all law processes stopped, and that no private business was to be done till the consul and his army were safe. Then he went out at the head of the forces to give help to the consul, and the day after he was back again, having overcome the Aequians and got the army out.
By order of the Senate he came into Rome, driving in his 'chariot,' or two-wheeled carriage,with the Acquian chiefs in chains in front of him. Before him went the flags, and after him came his men, with all they had taken in the fight. There were tables at the door of every house with meat and drink for the army, and everyone took part in a great meal and went after the chariot with dancing and songs.
Such is the great and simple story as it is given by the early writers on Roman history.
19 . EARLY ROME
The old stories of Horatius and Cincinnatus and other early Romans gives a clear picture of the sort of men these free Roman farmers were, and of the qualities which were most valued by them. To get their approval a man had to be responsible,to have a respect for religion and for the ways of his fathers, and to see facts clearly and keep in touch with them.
When Cincinnatus had something to say to the Roman public, he went --- as Pericles did in Athens -- to the market-place, or 'Forum.' At one end of the Roman Forum there was a railed-off space where open-air political meeting took place and all sorts of business was done. In time the forum was increased in size and beautiful works of art were placed in it. Round it great public buildings were put up -- government and law buildings, temples, and wide walks with roofs supported by stone columns where traders and bankers had their offices. For a thousand years the Forum was the heart of Rome and Rome was the heart of the greatest Empire there had ever been.
The Roman farmers were the best trained fighters in history. By degrees they overcame the country round them till they were in complete control of Italy south of the Arno. In war the chief care of the Roman army was to keep safe, at whatever price, their flag, the Roman 'Eagle" -- so named because on the top of the flag-stick was an eagle in gold or silver.
Like that great bird, her desire was to go ever higher, but it was in the early years that the seeds of her great future were planted. It is in the stories of those years that we see most clearly the qualities which made her what she was.
They are stories of men who put their country before everything ; men whose desire to do right was stronger than fear of death or love of family. The Romans were straightforward men not given to deep and complex reasoning like the Greeks, but seeing clearly what they had to do, and not to be turned from it by any thought of profit for themselves. These qualities made them great in war, wise in peace, and strong in the hour of danger.
20 . HOW HANNIBAL CAME OVER THE ALPS
Across the Mediterranean, in North Africa, Carthage, an old Phoenician colony, was an important town even before Rome became a republic. This daughter of Tyre and Sidon as like a town of the East. It was ruled by a small number of men (an 'oligarchy'), and its money was made in trade and farming, based on the work of slaves.
Not long after Rome had become the head of Italy she went to war with Carthage, which, by this time, had a great number of ships, a number of colonies, and a great trade. The two towns came into violent competition for control of the Mediterranean. so bitter were they with one another that there is a story of how Hamilcar of Carthage, on one of his journeys into Spain, took with him his little son Hannibal and made him give his word to the gods in the temple there that he would never be turned from his hate of Rome.
Between 264 and 146 B.C. there were three wars between the two towns. At first Carthage had greater power on the sea, but by the end of the first war the Romans had become expert at sea-fighting and had got control of the Mediterranean. So that when Hannibal became head of the army, and true to his word as a boy, undertook to put an end to the great town across the sea, the only way open to him was by land.
In five months Hannibal had overcome Spain, got across the Pyrenees, made his way through Gaul, and was on the other side of the Rhone. He took with him a number of elephants, and these great strange animals put fear into all who came against him. They were of much use later in the fighting the Roman horsemen, because horses have a special fear of elephants. Livy, the Roman writer of history, says that Hannibal was never tired in body or mind. No work, however hard, had any effect on him. He was able to put up with the bitterest cold or the most burning heat, and he took no more food than was necessary. His rest was not taken on a soft bed or in a quiet place ; he was frequently seen sleeping on the earth covered with his military coat, among those stationed to keep watch. His clothing was never better than that of his men. He was the first into the fight, and the last off the field when the fighting was over.
His journey across the high Alps with his great army and fifty-eight elephants was one of the most surprising events in history. On the ninth day, says Livy, he got to the very top of the mountains. When the sun came up in the morning the flags were sent to the front, and the army went on slowly after them through the deep snow.
Then Hannibal, going before the flags, gave orders to his men to come to a stop at a certain place from which it was possible to see over a great distance. Pointing to Italy and the fertile fields of the Po at the foot of the Alps, he said that they were going over the walls, not only of Italy, but of Rome. After, at most, one or two fights, you will be in control of the chief town of all Italy.
While Hannibal was going through Gaul he became friends with the men of that country, and when he came into North Italy he was joined by other Gauls, who were farmers there. When the news of Hannibal's journey got to Rome, the Romans got two armies together and sent one against him and one to Carthage. But the army in Italy was overcome by Hannibal so the other one was quickly ordered back to Rome. This, again, was overcome, and North Italy was now completely in Hannibal's hands.
21 . HANNIBAL IN ITALY
A year later two new armies were sent out, but Hannibal came over the Apennines and again got the better of the Romans. The year after that, the Roman armies were again completely crushed at Cannae (216 B.C.), which gave the Carthaginians control of South Italy. But in the face of this blow the Roman senate kept its head, and its behavior was never truer to the great qualities of the nation. What took place after the Roman armies were overcome is best given in the words of Livy himself.
The news came that the two consuls were dead, with every man in the army. Never before, while the town itself was still safe, had there been such uncontrolled fear inside the Roman walls. Then there suggestions were made in the Senate :
"Let us send good horsemen to the Appian and the Latin Way to put questions to everyone they come across -- some of the army will certainly have got away into the countryside --and come back with news of the consuls and their armies. If the gods still have any care for us, and if the name of Rome still has any power, we will be able to get news of where the rest of the forces are, of where Hannibal went after the fight, of what he is doing, and of what he seems about to do. Let the young and strong be sent off on this work.
"The number of judges is so small that we of the Senate will have to be responsible for order in the town ; it is for us to put an end to the condition of fear and doubt, to get the women out of the streets and into their houses, to put a stop to the outcries of the slaves, and to get everything quiet. Let us put men on watch to keep anyone from getting out, and to make everyone see that his only hope is to keep inside the town and its walls. When all is quiet let us have another meeting in the Senate-house to see what is to be done to keep the attacking armies out."
When the details of the losses went round, so great was the number of the dead that the day of Ceres, 'mother of the grain,' was not kept, because no house where there was death might take part in it, and there were not enough families to do so.
Then the prisoners taken by the Carthaginians were sent in by Hannibal with an offer to let them go on payment of a certain amount. They came before the Senate in hope and fear, and the chief of them said ; "Men of the Senate, it is common knowledge that our country, even more than any other, is against taking back prisoners of war. But we did not give up in the middle of the fight. We went on fighting, with the dead under our feet, almost till nightfall, and then we went back to cover. There, tired out by fighting and wounds, for the rest of the day and night we kept off the attackers. In the morning, with Hannibal's army all round us, cut off from water, and without any hope of getting through the forces in front of us, we said to ourselves, 'It is only right for some Romans to come back from the field of Cannae, where fifty thousand of our friends have gone to their death.'
"And it is recorded in history that our fathers were taken back from the Gauls for gold, and that your fathers -- though strongly against making peace -- at one time gave money in exchange for prisoners of war. In our new army you have had to take old men and young from every level of society ; it is said that eight thousand slaves are being armed. Our numbers are as great as theirs, and Hannibal's price for us will not be more than their market-price ; I will make no comparison between them and us as fighters, because the name of 'Roman' would only be shamed by doing so. If you saw the chains and the unhappy condition of your brother Romans, you would be as much moved as by seeing your armies dead on the field of Cannae. In the outer rooms of the Senate are our poor families, waiting with wet eyes and hearts full of fear for your answer."
When he had done, the men and women waiting outside sent up a loud cry, stretching out their hands o the Senate for their sons, brothers, and the relations. There were women among the men in the Forum, who had been unable to keep away in their fear and need. Orders were given for the onlookers to be sent out of the Senate, and a discussion then took place. When the decision was at last made public that the prisoners would not be taken back, their relations, crying bitterly, went with them as far as the walls of the town.
But in all these troubles there was nothing said in Rome about peace.
Belief in themselves was still so strong in the Romans that when the consul who was chiefly responsible for the destruction of the army came back, thousands of men of every sort and condition were out to see him, and he was made much of "for not having given up hope of the republic."
There were no more great fights between Hannibal and the Romans after Cannae, though Hannibal was still in Italy, not far from Rome, for some years. At last another Roman force was sent against Carthage, and Hannibal was ordered by the Carthaginians to come back. In the end his army was overcome near Carthage by Scipio, with such losses that Carthage was forced to make peace on Rome's conditions. But Scipio himself said that it was not Rome which was responsible for Hannibal's fall, but the Carthaginian Senate and traders, by whom he was hated and feared because of his great power over the army. These same countrymen, with no memory of all he had done for Carthage, later had him put out of his country. He went to the East, where he gave his help to the King of Syria in his war against Rome. When this came to nothing, he got away to the King of another part of Alexander's Empire, Bithynia, and there at last the great fighter came to his end by taking poison when he was about to be given up to the Romans.
Broken though the power of Carthage now was, the hate of Rome for that unhappy own was as strong as ever. For years Cato the Censor 1 never gave his opinion in the Senate on any question whatever without ending with the words "Delenda est Carthago." 2 And in 146 B.C. the haters of Carthage got their desire -- the town was taken and burned with everything in it, and for more than thirty years its place was marked only broken stones.
1 . The Roman Censor's business was to keep a list of those living in
Roman, and to put a stop to anything which might have a bad effect on the republic.
2 . "The destruction of Carthage is necessary."
22 . CHANGES IN ROME
By 254 B.C. Rome was in control of all Italy and had the support of the Italians in her wars. Then came a hundred years (264-164 B.C.) of fighting outside Italy, in which Rome became ruler of the Mediterranean.
While Rome was at war with Carthage, her armies were not only fighting in the west and on the sea, but in the east. The King of Macedon had become a supporter of Hannibal, so Rome now overcame Macedon (198 B.C.). In the year of the fall of Carthage, the greatest trading town in completion with her in the west, Rome put an end to Corinth, the chief Greek trading town in the East (146 B.C.). And in a short time, in part by wise agreements and in part by force of arms, she had control of all Alexander's old Empire. The one-time small town on the Tiber was now the head of a great Empire, covering the old East and the newer West.
These wars, like all wars, were the cause of much which was bad, and the qualities which have made Rome great were sadly undermined by them. After the wars there were violent political troubles ending in the downfall of the Roman Republic, and the change to an Empire ruled by one man.
The never-ending fighting had made it impossible for the independent Roman farmer, working his land himself, like Cincinnatus in early Rome history, to get a living. One by one the small farms went out of existence and their places were taken by great properties, worked by slaves whose owners had made money out of the wars.
Outside Rome there was much bad feeling among her Italian supporters. Though they had not been crushed, they had never been given full political rights in Rome, and they were unable to take positions of authority. Outside Italy, great countries like Sicily and Spain were taken as Roman property, and the government of these places was very poor. And outside the Empire there were the 'barbarians,' rough fighters at a lower stage of development, who were now the same danger to the Roman Empire as the earliest Greeks had been to the Aegean towns.
The Roman Senate itself, which had done such great things after Cannae, in time came to be formed of men who had only their private interests at heart, fighting for money and power. After the destruction of Carthage there was a bitter fight between the Senate and the free Romans, and this was the start of a hundred years of violent acts, sudden deaths, mass-rule, and war between different groups (133-31 B.C.).
The cause of the Plebs was taken up by Tiberius and Caius Gracchus ('the Gracchi'), sons of the Scipio who overcame Carthage. The purpose of the brothers was to get a more equal distribution of land among the public and make Rome a nation of small farmers again. Tiberius was made the representative of the common men (133 B.C.), and he gave them a sense of their wrongs. But it was not long before he was put to death by an angry group of Patricians fearing for their special rights and their money. Then his brother Caius made an attempt to give the Italian towns a voice in the government but like Tiberius he came to a violent end before he had got very far.
The Plebs now went over to a military chief, Marius. This was the start of that long fight for power between army chiefs, which at last put an end to the free republic and gave Rome a one-man government. By this time German and Gallic barbarians were forcing a way into the Empire. For a time they were crushed by Marius (102 B.C.). But he was unable to make the government of Rome any better.
Then came a war between Rome and her Italian supporters, who at last got a voice in the government. The size of the Empire was, in fact now so great that it was no longer possible for it to be ruled by the free Romans in the old way.
Another military chief, Sulla, overcame the army of the Plebs and made himself Dictator. After his death one of the men under him, Pompey, took the chief power (70 B.C.). Pompey did a great work in putting down the outlaws of the sea who made attacks on vessels and then got away to their secret places in the mountains of Asia Minor. After this he took Jerusalem (63 B.C.), overcame all the countries as far as the Euphrates, and made towns as Alexander had done before him.
23 . JULIUS CAESAR GOES ACROSS THE RUBICON
The person who came to power after Pompey is one of the greatest men in military history. This was Julius Caesar, Pompey's father-in-law and the son of Marius's brother.
His family was one of the oldest in Rome, and was said to have come down from Aeneas of the Illiad and the early Roman kings. As a boy and young man he had had the normal education of a man of good family. He had had a taste of the pleasures of society, and had put on the air of a man of letters and made verses when he had nothing better to do. He had a complete knowledge of all the airs of dress, and had become expert in the even more complex art of getting money from his friends and never giving it back.
At fighting and on horseback he was as good as any of his men, and his swimming kept him from death at Alexandria. The rate at which he made his journeys, generally at night because it was quicker, was not least among the reasons why he did so well. The mind was like the body. His memory was without equal and it was no trouble for him to do two or three things at the same time. Though he was a man of force and decision, and a great fighter, he was not without softer feelings. To the end of his days he had the deepest respect for his mother (his father's death having taken place when he was quite young) ; and to the women of his family, specially his daughter, he gave a loving care.
Julius Caesar had been in the army in Asia and had been rewarded for his good work. He had made a great name as a public talker when attacking the self-interest of one of the Roman rulers. And these were the days of great talkers ; Cicero, the greatest of them all, was then living, and moving all men by his words. Caesar was at one time taken by outlaws at sea, and he gave his word then that one day he would make them prisoners and have them put to death -- and he did. He was given all the great positions in Rome, one after the other.
But he saw that he would not get the chief power without an army, and his great chance now came in the West, as Pompey's had done in the East. The Gauls, a barbarian nation, part of which had come across the Alps and been living about the river Po for more than three hundred years, were giving trouble in the North. So Caesar got a law put into force which made him the ruler of Gaul on the two sides of the Alps.
In eight years (58-50 B.C.) Caesar overcame the part of Gaul which was not under Roman rule (that is, 'Transalpine' Gaul, on the farther side of the Alps) from the Atlantic to the Rhine, and twice went to Britain. And so the great country which is now France and Belgium became part of the Roman Empire, and to this day the art and learning of Gaul (or France) is clearly Latin in quality. Schoolboys doing Latin still make use of Caesar's books about the wars in Gaul and with the Britons across the English Channel.
Pompey, however, who was at the head of the Senate's armies, saw with angry eyes his father-in-law's increasing power. So he got the Senate to give orders that if Caesar's great army was not broken up he would be made an outlaw. But Caesar said "No," and took the great step of coming across the Rubicon, the little river separating his country, Gaul, from the road to Rome. After that there was no going back ; it was war. but the Romans were on Caesar's side, and all Rome was open to him. Pompey got out of Rome as quickly as possible, and Caesar was made Consul (49 B. C.). Then he overcame Pompey's army in Spain, and the war was moved to Greece, where Pompey was again crushed. Pompey himself got away to Egypt, and there he was put to death by a trick.
In three years Caesar had made himself ruler of all the countries round the Mediterranean. In Egypt he went to see the beautiful Cleopatra, the last of the Greek rulers in Egypt after the end of Alexander's Empire. While he was there a mass attack was made on him and the great library in Alexandria was burned. It was from Asia Minor that he sent his noted letter to the Senate : "I came, I saw, I overcame" (Veni, vidi vici).
And so Caesar became, in fact, the first head of the Roman Empire. He had the best interests of his country at heart, and there is little doubt that he would have been a strong and wise ruler, but his time was cut short. He was offered the name of King, and though he would not take it, he was put to death on the 'Ides' (15th) of March, 44 B.C., by Brutus, Cassius, and the others in their hate and fear of the name and power of Kings. With his death came to an end the long line of Romans who, from the Gracchi down to Caesar had made the greater good of Rome their dearest desire.
24 . THE ROMAN EMPIRE
The old Republic of Rome and its Senate, which was no longer the living force it had been in the early days, had not been equal to the great work of ruling the ever-increasing Empire. At the time of his death Julius Caesar, wisest and most far-seeing of all the Romans, was forming great designs for its better organization and government. It was his hope, as it had been that of Alexander before him, to get East and West united from India to the Atlantic.
Brutus and Cassius, and other lovers of their country such as Cicero, had been attempting to get back the old Republic. But they were on the wrong road. The great qualities of the early Romans had been crushed out in the never-ending wars, and the Roman public was now no longer responsible enough to take on the government of an Empire. After the death of Julius Caesar there were fourteen more years of war between different groups in Rome. At last these trouble came to an end (31 B.C.) when Octavious, a younger relation of Caesar's, made himself Augustus, the 'all-highest,' and Princeps, 'the first' among the free men of Rome. He was, in fact, the first 'Emperor,' or King of the Empire, though the hated name of King itself was not used.
And so the outcome of a hundred years of bitter war and violent change (133-131 B.C.) was the rule of one man -- as in the early East. And under this system the Roman Empire went on, though slowly changing for the worse after the first two hundred years, for more than five hundred years.
The rule of Augustus (31 B.C.-A.D. 14) was the start of two hundred years of peace and development -- the Pax Romana, or 'Roman Peace." It was the time of the greatest Latin writers -- Livy, the writer of history, and Virgil and Horace, the writers of verse ; and it was while Augustus was in power that, in a small country in the east of the Empire, the birth of Jesus took place.
Of all the countries of the Empire, Spain, from 200 B.C., had been the most Roman. Thousand of Spaniards went into the Roman armies, and these were given political rights at Rome. some of its greatest towns were started in Roman times -- for example, Seville, Toledo, and Lisbon.
Gaul was another part of the Empire which was completely Roman in language and ways of living, and nowhere were conditions better. At Nismes we may still see the beautiful Roman bridge and waterway (put up about A.D. 20), which took clean drinking-water to the Romans in the town. The noted town of Lyons (Lugdunum) was the meeting-place of a number of roads, and for three hundred years it was the chief town of Roman Gaul, and the seat of the religion of the 'Druids,' the old religion of the country.
In Britain there were Roman towns at Chester, Caerleon, York, Silchester, and Colchester, to which the Emperor Claudius went. Between A.D. 43 and 51 all South Britain had come into Roman hands, and a great British chief, Caractacus, had been sent in chains to Rome itself.
In museums and other places, all over the west of Europe, there may still be seen things used every day by men living in the Roman Empire -- the workmen's instruments, the pots and vessels, the knives and blades, and even the playthings of the young and the needles of the women.
In Italy, Rome itself was greatly changed by Augustus. When he came to it, he said it was a town of brick, and he made it a town of polished stone. Across the old market-place was the new Senate-house designed by Caesar. High up in the distance, was the Capitol, with the Temple of Jove on the land sloping down from it, and the Temple of Concord (or Harmony) at its foot. Augustus's time saw the building of the first great public baths and of the Pantheon, or House of all the Gods, with its great round roof -- the oldest building which is still to be seen complete in Rome today . The Colosseum came later (about A.D. 80). In this way Augustus and those who came after him, profiting by the example of Pericles, who made Athens the ornament of Greece, made Rome as beautiful as it was great.
Inside the limits of the Empire, the Pax Romana was complete. For the first two hundred years after the birth of Jesus there was peace and order without parallel in history.
It was not, as in the old Empires of Asia, a peace of fear, with crushed and bitter men kept under by an iron hand, and only waiting their chance to make trouble. Everywhere the rule of Rome was unquestioned, everywhere her laws were kept without protest, as a natural thing, and no force was needed to keep the Empire together. The nations which had been overcome took their places as part of the greater nation, and gave up the hope, and even the desire, of becoming independent again. The authority of the Emperors was as great in Britain or Egypt as in Rome itself. In this condition of general harmony, ruler and ruled were free to give of their best to the development of the Empire, and it was a time of great works in every field.
Wherever the Roman rule went, there were Romans living. All the Roman towns had certain things in common -- baths, works for coloring cloth, a market-place or forum, and town-buildings where the general public business was done ; Roman temples and , possibly, an early Christian church ; an open-air theater, sometimes with enough seating for ten thousand. Here the public came to see competitions and fights between men and animals. Cruel amusements these were, and the pleasure taken by the Romans, even the women, in seeing wounds and death is to us very shocking. but they were a hard nation, trained from earliest times to make little of pain and danger, and this quality, great at its best, may well have taken the form, in lower men, of an unnatural taste for blood.
In their houses the Romans gave an example which is still without equal in the West. There have never been more beautiful buildings for living purposes than the town and country houses of the Romans. In the middle was an open space with gardens, ornamented with works of art and with water playing into stone basins. Round it there were columns supporting a roof, with all the chief rooms, the library and the bedrooms and the rooms for meals, opening out onto the garden. If the owner of the house was a man of money he would have his floors made of small colored stones from the East, worked into complex designs ; there would be soft, thick hangings, pipes for running water, warm and cold baths, beautiful bronze cooking vessels, and a great number of slaves to do everything for him and his family.
Joining the towns were the great, straight roads made by engineers of the Roman army -- like Watling Street in England, and the Appian Way in Italy. There were no better roads in existence till the eighteen hundreds, and journeys were never so quick again till the coming of the railways. These great roads were used by the Roman armies with their trains of carts, and by all the traders. The meetings of the roads were natural stopping-places, which in time became towns.
At the outer limits of the Empire, Roman armies were stationed to keep watch -- on th Rhine, on the Danube, on the Euphrates, and in Britain at the noted wall put up between Solway and Tyne by the Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 120). On these fronts wars were frequent, and the men who were sent out there to keep the Empire safe saw hard fighting.
25 . THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
It was in the Roman Empire that the Christian Church came into being. The great story is given in the New Testament. Christ was teaching in Palestine about A.D. 33, and in the twenty-five years after his death, while the Roman armies were in control of Britain, Saint Paul and others went about in Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome itself, taking the words of Christ from place to place.
But the early Church quickly got into trouble with the Roman Empire. The Christians would not make offerings to Caesar as a god, and they would not go into the army. For these and other reasons cruel things were done to them from time to time -- under Nero (64-68), Domitian (95), Trajan (106), Marcus Aurelius, himself one of the best men (165-177), and last, under Diocletian (303). There is a letter to the Emperor Trajan from Pliny the Younger, when he was ruler of one of the divisions of the Empire, which gives some idea of these early Christians and what they had to put up with.
"What I have done with the men coming before me as Christians is this. I said to them : Are you a Christian ?" ; if they said 'Yes,' I put the same question twice more, pointing out what would be done to them if they made the same answer ; and if they said 'Yes' I gave orders for their punishment. They say that their only crime is to come together on a certain day before it is light and to say a 'prayer' to Christ, requesting his help and giving him an undertaking, not for the purpose of any crime, but simply never to do anything false or take another man's property secretly, never to go back on their word, or make any attempt to keep what has been given into their care. And after this, they say, they go their separate ways and then come together later for a meal, but with no bad design."
But two hundred years after Trajan, the Romans themselves were turning to the Christian Church. The Emperor Constantine became the first Christian Emperor at York in 313, and from that time the Christian religion had the support of the law. Constantine gave orders for representatives of all the churches in the Roman Empire to come to a meeting at Nicaea in 325, and there a short statement of the chief points of Christian belief was framed -- the 'Nicen Creed.'
The growth of the Christian Church -- till at last its power was greater than that of the Roman Empire itself -- is one of the most surprising things recorded in history.
But by this time the best days of the Empire were over. Constantine made the old Greek Byzantium his new seat of government, naming it after himself, Constantinople. From this it is clear that the Empire was no longer united in Rome, as it had been ; the East was, in fact, pulling away from the West, and it was not long before the division was complete and there were two Empires. The Empire of the East went on under its Emperors at Constantinople for hundreds of years after the Empire of the West had become only a name, but its rule had little in common with the old rule of Rome.
There are a number of causes for the fall of the Roman Empire, not the least of which was the ever-increasing and unhealthy use of slaves. Only the Christian Church said that all men are equal, emperor and slave. Another great cause was the attacks of the barbarians on the edges of the Empire. For a long time great numbers of these barbarians had been coming into the Empire and going into the army. Now, in the third and fourth hundred years after Christ, they were thundering at the doors, ready to come bursting through and take all before them.
26 . ROME
So important to all later history was that of Rome, that it will be well to take a look back over what we have been learning.
First, the free farmers in a small town on the Tiber got control of the land round the town itself ; then they overcame those living in the flat country near by ; and then those in the Italian mountains. All these nations were kept united to Rome by the roads she made, the laws and language she gave them, and the Roman colonies which she sent out among them.
Rome was now strong enough to undertake a war to the death against Carthage, the great trading town across the Mediterranean, whose chief, Hannibal, was one of the greatest men military history.
After Carthage had been overcome, one by one all the old nations round the Mediterranean were taken into the Empire of Rome ; and all the lands south of the Danube ; and all the countries of the West as far as Britain -- the edge of the world as it seemed at that time.
All these very different nations were joined together by her under one rule and one law, with one great network of roads going into the farthest places of the Empire.
And it was in this Empire, in the old Judea of the Jews, that the birth of another King took place, whose teaching was the greatest of all laws --- the new law of love. Men were slow in learning this new law, and for a long time they were very cruel to the Christians. But in time the Church became the greatest force in the Empire and outside it, and its head, or Pope (from the Latin papa, that is, 'father'), had his seat in Rome, the heart of all society. The Church took up the work of Rome, teaching better ways to the rough Barbarians who were overrunning the old empire, and who were later to become the New Nations.
For a thousand years (500 B.C. to A.D. 500) it was the great work of Rome to take all over its Empire the ideas, the art, the learning, and the religion which had been slowly moving west from the early societies of the East (whose story in the Bible) from Jerusalem in Judea, and from Athens in Greece. In addition to this, Rome gave men the greatest system of law and government they had ever seen, and her builders and engineers were the teachers of all the builders and engineers who came after them in Europe.
DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK
I . -- THE FIRST STAGE
II . -- THE EARLY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE EAST
III. -- THE GREAT DAYS OF GREECE
IV . -- THE GREAT DAYS OF ROME top
V . -- THE MIDDLE AGES
VI . -- THE 'NEW BIRTH' OF EUROPE
VII. -- NEW FORCES IN RELIGION AND THE GROWTH OF A NEW OUTLOOK
VIII -- THE EXPANSION OF EUROPE OVERSEAS
IX . -- THE 'GREAT KINGS' OF EUROPE
X . -- THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
XI . -- THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND NAPOLEON
XII. -- THE BIRTH OF NEW NATIONS
XIII -- THE WORLD OF THE PRESENT DAY