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second Punic war, and in the seventh century from the founding of the city corruption became general. The destruction of Carthage is the period commonly referred to as the turning point of the national manners, and the civil wars of the following century nearly completed the overthrow of the ancient virtues
. Sallust, who lauds so highly the virtues of the early Romans, is very explicit in regard to the degeneracy of their descendants. He represents Jugurtha, a hundred years before Christ, as acting on the full persuasion that the Romans were entirely destitute of principle. When this Numidian prince was departing from Rome, having often looked back upon it in silence, he at last broke out into these remarkable words :* "A city set up for sale, and soon to perish if a buyer can be found !"
-a prediction that was speedily verified. This historian describes the state of morals in the time of the Catilinian war in language which will not endure a literal translation. “It is worth while, when you have observed the houses and countryseats piled up like so many cities, to examine the temples of the gods built by our ancestors, the most religious of men. But they adorned the shrines of the gods with piety, and their own houses with glory: nor did they deprive the conquered of any thing except the power of doing injury. While their descendants, effeminate wretches, with the most crying injustice, take away from their allies all those things which as conquerors their brave ancestors had left even to their enemies: as though to do injury and to exercise dominion were one and the same thing." "Nor were licentiousness, gaming, and other refined gratifications less prevalent. The sexes relinquished all regard to chastity. Sea and land were ransacked for all kinds of dainties to gratify the palate. They slept before the time of sleep; they waited neither for hunger, nor thirst, nor cold, nor fatigue ; but all were anticipated by way of luxury. These things inflamed the youth when their resources failed, to the commission of crimes.”+
Augustine confirms the representations of Sallust, and reremarks: “Other writers also express their assent to these things, although in a much less eloquent style."'I The same Christian father adds: “ See the Roman republic (facts which I do not first state, but which were advanced long before the coming of Christ, by those authors from whom these things are drawn) gradually changed, and from a very fair and excellent, made a most vile and profligate state. See, after the destruction of Carthage, and before the advent of Christ, the ancient manners, not gradually supplanted as before, but swept away like a torrent, insomuch that the youth were corrupted by luxury and avarice.”* This writer brings forward in the same connection the comments of Cicero on the sentiment of the poet Ennius, that the Roman greatness had its origin and support in the excellent character of the fathers of the state. “Moribus antiquis stat res Romana, virisque.” “Which line," says he," he seems to have expressed like an oracle, with equal brevity and truth. For the men, without the aid of such morals, or the morals, had not these men controlled the power, would neither of them have been able to found, or so long to maintain so great and widely extended a republic. Thus before our recollection, the morals of our country produced excellent men, and excellent men preserved the ancient morals, and the institutions of our ancestors. But when our generation had received the republic, like a very beautiful painting, although fading through age, it not only neglected to restore it to its former freshness, but it even took no care to preserve so much as the form, and as it were the faintest outlines. How much then remains of those ancient morals, on which he said the Roman power depended, when they are so consigned to oblivion, that so far from being cultivated, they are even unknown ? And what shall I say of the men ? For the morals perished through a want of the men, of which great calamity we have not only to trace the causes, but also like culprits to clear ourselves from guilt. For by our own corruption, and not by any accident, we retain the republic only in name; while in reality we have lost it long since.”+ It is needless, as Sallust observes, to exhibit at
* Urbem venalem, et mature perituram, si emptorem invenerit.-Bell. Jug., $ 35.
+ Bell. Cat., § 12, 13.
| Et alii scriptores in haec consentiunt, quamvis eloquio multum impari.-De Civ. Dei. II. 18.
* De Civ. Dei. II. 19.
+ De Civ. Dei. II. 21. In this connection the remarks of a modern writer on the same passages from Ennius and Cicero, may be interesting. “It was her morals which raised Rome to such a height of glory; and these morals, which the fear of the gods maintained, relaxed as soon as the great ceased by their example to cherish among the people this regard for the relilarge the redundancy of proof which every portion of the later periods of the Roman history furnishes of the total degeneracy of morals that prevailed. It will be sufficient to refer to the graphic and glowing picture given by Seneca of the general corruption :
“These so many thousands hastening to the forum at the dawn of day, how base are their lawsuits, how much more base the advocates who manage them! One summons his father to court for things which ought rather to be praised. Another joins issue with his mother. A third comes forward as an informer against a crime of which himself is more evidently guilty. The judge is elected to condemn the very things which he has done, and the circle of bystanders, corrupted by the smooth representations of the patron, side with the injuring party. Why should I specify individual cases ? When you see the Forum thronged by the multitude, the Septa filled with the rush of the whole crowd, and that Circus where the people show themselves in the largest collections, be sure of this, that the amount of vice is in proportion to the number of men. Between those citizens whom you see in the garb of peace, there is nevertheless no peace. 'A trifling consideration is sufficient to induce them to destroy each other. No one is profited ex
gion of their fathers. It is to the ancient morals, and to the great men whom they had formed, that Ennius attributes the greatness of Rome. Cicero, in quoting this verse of Ennius, confesses that there remained nothing of the ancient morality which had supported the republic. That virtuous people who would select only virtuous men to rule them, no longer existed, and if they had existed, in whom among the great would they have found those ancient virtues ? It is sufficient to read the descriptions which Cicero himself has given us in different places, of the characters of his cotemporaries, to be convinced that corruption had already reached its height, and that Titus Livy was in the right in saying that their vices had come to such a pitch that they could neither bear them nor endure the application of a remedy.'We no longer recognize that religious people of whose good faith and probity Polybius boasts so much. The great ridiculed the auspices; the minis. ters of religion performed the ceremonies with more than negligence, and soon there was left no restraint upon ambition on the one side, and corruption on the other.' "-De Beaufort, Republique Romaine, I. 354.
cept by the injury of his neighbor. The fortunate they hate; the unfortunate they despise. Oppressed by those above them, in their turn they abuse their inferiors. They are distracted by opposing passions. They desire all things brought to ruin for the sake of a small gratification and a pitiful booty. Their life is like that of the Gladiators, who fight with the same persons with whom they live. This is an assemblage of wild beasts : except that brutes abstain from waging war with their own kind, whereas these delight in mutual laceration. Only in this one thing do they differ from brute animals, that the latter have compassion on those who nourish them, while these devour even those by whom they are supported. Never will the wise man cease to be angry [with crime) if he once begins. All things are filled with crimes and vices. More is committed than it is possible to remedy by coercion. A monstrous contest for supremacy in guilt is carried on. The love of sinning increases daily, and share is continually diminished. Laying aside respect for what is good and just, lust rushes on whithersoever it will. Crimes are no longer concealed : they come forth before our eyes. So public has abandoned wickedness become, and so powerful is it in the minds of all, that innocence is not merely rare, but is nowhere to be found. Think you that these are individuals or but a few who have violated law? On all sides, as if at a concerted signal, they rush forth to the utter confounding of right and wrong.
Non hospes ab hospite tutus,
Filius ante diem patrios inquirit in annos. And how small a part of the crimes is this? He has not described the hostile camps drawn from the same families and neighborhoods, the clashing oaths of parents and children, the torch applied by the citizen to his own country, troops of furious horsemen galloping around to search out the hiding places of the proscribed, the fountains rendered deadly by poisons, pestilence purposely created, the trench dug around besieged parents, the prisons overflowing, fires raging through whole cities, deplorable abuses of power, secret conspiracies for dominion and for the public ruin, those things gloried in which while they can be suppressed are regarded as crimes, robberies and rapes, and language itself defiled with obscenity.
Add now the perjuries of the public faith, treaties broken, whatever is not defended by force carried off as the booty of the stranger, swindlings, frauds, breaches of trust, for which three places of public justice are not sufficient. If you wish the wise man to exercise as much displeasure as the nature and extent of the crimes demand, he must not be angry merely, he must rave.»*
It need not be asked whether such a state as Seneca has here described could be free. A civil despotism, with the mockery of a senate and of freedom, had already usurped the seat of liberty, soon to be displaced by a military domination still more terrible. And the remaining history of the empire is a continuous record of atrocities, in number and enormity as much exceeding any similar developments of depravity which the black scroll of humanity exhibits, as the theatre on which they were performed was grander and more magnificent than any other which has displayed its pageantry before the eyes of men.
II. There is a question of some interest which, at this stage of the investigation, is worthy of examination. Was the great change in the Roman character which has been pointed out, produced solely or chiefly by the extension of the boundaries of the republic, the introduction of foreign luxuries, and the contaminating influence of the vices of other nations ? The triumph of the Roman arms, and the unparalleled prosperity of the nation, are commonly referred to as causes of new moral evils to the state. This result seems to have been foreseen by some of the wisest Romans. It was owing to such views that Scipio Nasica (Augustine De Civ. Dei. Il. 18) was unwilling that Carthage should be destroyed. With the extension of the empire, the honor and profit connected with the public offices were increased. Sallust evidently regards this extension, with the ease and luxury which followed, as the great cause of the decline of virtue and the general corruption The Roman conquests in Western Asia, and the consequent introduction of the refinements of Grecian art, and the effeminate vices of the East, are particularly referred to as sources of the national decay.
“ The Romans amalgamated with the inhabitants of Gaul, Illyricum, Pannonia, Dacia, Spain, and Britain ; or the inhabitants of these countries were converted into Romans. The case was entirely different with Greece, and still more with
* De Ira, II. 7, 8, 9.