The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire
By Edward Gibbon
 Principles of government.                                                                        IT is not alone by the rapidity, or extent of conquest, that
          we should estimate  the  greatness of Rome. The sovereign of
          the Russian deserts  commands a larger portion of the globe.
          In the seventh  summer  after his passage of the Hellespont,
          Alexander erected the  Macedonian  trophies  on the banks of
          the Hyphasis. (1) Within less than a century, the irresistible 
          Zingis, and the  Mogul  princes  of  his  race, spread their
          cruel devastations and  transient  empire  from  the  sea of
          China to the  confines  of Egypt and Germany. (2) But the firm 
          edifice of Roman  power  was  raised  and  preserved  by the
          wisdom of ages.  The  obedient  provinces  of Trajan and the
          Antonines were united  by  laws  and  adorned  by arts. They
          might  occasionally  suffer   from   the  partial  abuse  of
          delegated authority; but the general principle of government
          was wise, simple,  and beneficent. They enjoyed the religion
          of their ancestors,  whilst  in civil honours and advantages
          they were exalted,  by  just  degrees,  to  an equality with
          their conquerors.
Universal spirit of toleration.
       I. The policy  of  the emperors and the senate, as far as it
          concerned religion, was  happily seconded by the reflections
          of the enlightened,  and by the habits of the superstitious,
          part of their  subjects. The various modes of worship, which
          prevailed in the  Roman  world,  were  all considered by the
          people, as equally  true;  by  the  philosopher,  as equally
          false; and by  the  magistrate,  as equally useful. And thus
          toleration produced not  only  mutual  indulgence,  but even
          religious concord.
Of the people.
          The superstition of  the  people  was  not embittered by any
          mixture of theological  rancour;  nor was it confined by the
          chains of any  speculative  system.  The  devout polytheist,
          though fondly attached  to his national rites, admitted with
          implicit faith the different religions of the earth. (3) Fear, 
          gratitude, and curiosity,  a  dream  or  an omen, a singular
          disorder, or a  distant journey, perpetually disposed him to
          multiply the articles of his belief, and to enlarge the list
          of his protectors.  The  thin texture of the Pagan mythology
          was interwoven with various but not discordant materials. As
          soon as it was allowed that sages and heroes, who had lived,
          or who had  died  for  the  benefit  of  their country, were
          exalted  to  a  state  of  power  and  immortality,  it  was
          universally  confessed  that   they   deserved  if  not  the
          adoration,  at least  the  reverence  of  all  mankind.  The
          deities  of  a   thousand  groves  and  a  thousand  streams
          possessed, in peace,  their  local and respective influence;
          nor could the  Roman  who deprecated the wrath of the Tiber,
          deride  the Egyptian  who  presented  his  offering  to  the
          beneficent genius of the Nile. The visible powers of Nature,
          the planets, and  the elements, were the same throughout the
          universe. The invisible  governors  of  the moral world were
          inevitably cast in  a similar mould of fiction and allegory.
          Every  virtue,  and   even   vice,   acquired   its   divine
          representative; every art  and  profession its patron, whose
          attributes, in the  most  distant  ages  and countries, were
          uniformly  derived from  the  character  of  their  peculiar
          votaries. A republic  of  gods  of such opposite tempers and
          interest required, in every system, the moderating hand of a
          supreme magistrate, who,  by  the  progress of knowledge and
          flattery,   was  gradually   invested   with   the   sublime
          perfections of an Eternal Parent, and an Omnipotent Monarch.
          (4) Such was  the  mild  spirit of antiquity, that the nations 
          were  less  attentive   to   the   difference  than  to  the
          resemblance  of their  religious  worship.  The  Greek,  the
          Roman,  and  the   Barbarian,   as  they  met  before  their
          respective altars, easily  persuaded  themselves, that under
          various names, and  with various ceremonies, they adored the
          same  deities.  The   elegant  mythology  of  Homer  gave  a
          beautiful, and almost  a  regular form, to the polytheism of
          the ancient world. (5) 
Of philosophers.
          The philosophers of  Greece  deduced  their  morals from the
          nature of man, rather than from that of God. They meditated,
          however,  on the  Divine  Nature,  as  a  very  curious  and
          important speculation; and  in  the  profound  inquiry, they
          displayed  the  strength   and   weakness   of   the   human
          understanding (6). Of  the  four  most celebrated schools, the 
          Stoics  and the  Platonists  endeavoured  to  reconcile  the
          jarring interests of reason and piety. They have left us the
          most sublime proofs  of the existence and perfections of the
          first cause; but,  as it was impossible for them to conceive
          the creation of  matter, the workman in the Stoic philosophy
          was not sufficiently distinguished from the work; whilst, on
          the contrary, the  spiritual  God of Plato and his disciples
          resembled an idea  rather  than a substance. The opinions of
          the Academics and  Epicureans were of a less religious cast; 
          but whilst the  modest science of the former induced them to
          doubt, the positive  ignorance  of  the latter urged them to
          deny, the providence  of  a  Supreme  Ruler.  The  spirit of
          inquiry, prompted by  emulation,  and  supported by freedom,
          had divided the public teachers of philosophy into a variety
          of contending sects; but the ingenuous youth who, from every
          part, resorted to Athens, and the other seats of learning in
          the Roman empire,  were  alike instructed in every school to
          reject and to  despise  the  religion of the multitude. How,
          indeed, was it  possible,  that a philosopher should accept,
          as divine truths,  the  idle  tales  of  the  poets, and the
          incoherent  traditions of  antiquity;  or,  that  he  should
          adore, as gods,  those  imperfect  beings  whom he must have
          despised, as men ! Against such unworthy adversaries, Cicero
          condescended to employ the arms of reason and eloquence; but
          the satire of  Lucian  was  a much more adequate, as well as
          more efficacious weapon.  We  may  be  well  assured, that a
          writer conversant with  the  world would never have ventured
          to expose the  gods  of  his country to public ridicule, had
          they not already  been  the objects of secret contempt among
          the polished and enlightened orders of society. (7) 
          Notwithstanding the fashionable  irreligion  which prevailed
          in the age  of  the  Antonines,  both  the  interests of the
          priests and the  credulity  of  the people were sufficiently
          respected.  In  their   writings   and   conversation,   the
          philosophers of antiquity  asserted  the independent dignity
          of reason; but  they  resigned their actions to the commands
          of law and  of  custom.  Viewing,  with  a smile of pity and
          indulgence,  the  various   errors   of   the  vulgar,  they
          diligently  practised  the   ceremonies  of  their  fathers,
          devoutly frequented the  temples  of the gods; and sometimes
          condescending to act  a part on the theatre of superstition,
          they  concealed the  sentiments  of  an  Atheist  under  the
          sacerdotal robes. Reasoners  of  such a temper were scarcely
          inclined to wrangle  about  their respective modes of faith,
          or of worship.  It  was  indifferent  to them what shape the
          folly of the  multitude  might  choose  to  assume; and they
          approached, with the  same  inward  contempt,  and  the same
          external reverence, the  altars of the Libyan, the Olympian,
          or the Capitoline Jupiter. (8) 

Of the magistrate. 
          It is not  easy  to  conceive  from what motives a spirit of
          persecution could introduce  itself into the Roman councils.
          The magistrates could  not  be  actuated  by a blind, though
          honest  bigotry,  since   the  magistrates  were  themselves
          philosophers; and the  schools  of  Athens had given laws to
          the senate. They  could  not  be  impelled  by  ambition  or
          avarice, as the  temporal  and  ecclesiastical  powers  were
          united in the same hands. The pontiffs were chosen among the
          most illustrious of  the senators; and the office of Supreme
          Pontiff was constantly exercised by the emperors themselves.
          They knew and  valued  the  advantages of religion, as it is
          connected with civil  government. They encouraged the public
          festivals which humanise  the  manners  of  the people. They
          managed the arts  of  divination, as a convenient instrument
          of  policy: and  they  respected  as  the  firmest  bond  of
          society, the useful  persuasion that, either in this or in a
          future life, the crime of perjury is most assuredly punished
          by the avenging  gods.  (9)  But  whilst they acknowledged the 
          general advantages of religion, they were convinced that the
          various modes of  worship  contributed  alike  to  the  same
          salutary purposes; and  that,  in every country, the form of
          superstition, which had  received  the  sanction of time and
          experience, was the  best  adapted to the climate and to its
  In the provinces;.inhabitants.Avarice and taste very frequently despoiled the
          vanquished nations of the elegant statues of their gods, and
          the rich ornaments of their temples; (10) but, in the exercise 
          of the religion  which  they  derived  from their ancestors,
          they  uniformly  experienced   the   indulgence,   and  even
          protection, of the  Roman  conquerors.  The province of Gaul
          seems, and indeed only seems, an exception to this universal
          toleration. Under the  specious  pretext of abolishing human
          sacrifices, the emperors  Tiberius  and  Claudius suppressed
          the dangerous power  of  the  Druids, (11) But  the  priests 
          themselves,  their  gods  and  their  altars,  subsisted  in
          peaceful obscurity till  the  final destruction of Paganism.
At Rome.
          Rome, the capital  of  a  great  monarchy,  was  incessantly
          filled with subjects  and  strangers  from every part of the
          world, (13) who  all  introduced  and  enjoyed  the  favourite 
          superstitions of their  native country. (14) Every city in the 
          empire  was justified  in  maintaining  the  purity  of  its
          ancient ceremonies; and  the  Roman senate, using the common
          privilege, sometimes interposed, to check this inundation of
          foreign rites. The  Egyptian  superstition,  of all the most
          contemptible  and abject,  was  frequently  prohibited;  the
          temples of Serapis and Isis demolished and their worshippers
          banished from Rome  and Italy. (15) But the zeal of fanaticism 
          prevailed over the  cold  and  feeble efforts of policy. The
          exiles returned, the proselytes multiplied, the temples were
          restored with increasing  splendour, and Isis and Serapis at
          length assumed their  place  among the Roman deities. (16) Nor 
          was this indulgence  a  departure  from  the  old  maxims of
          government. In the  purest  ages of the commonwealth, Cybele
          and Aesculapius had been invited by solemn embassies; (17) and 
          it was customary to tempt the protectors of besieged cities,
          by the promise  of  more  distinguished  honours  than  they
          possessed in their  native country. (18) Rome gradually became 
          the common temple  of  her  subjects  and the freedom of the
          city was bestowed on all the gods of mankind. (19) 
Freedom of Rome.
       II. The narrow  policy  of  preserving,  without any foreign
          mixture, the pure blood of the ancient citizens, had checked
          the fortune, and  hastened  the  ruin, of Athens and Sparta.
          The aspiring genius  of  Rome sacrificed vanity to ambition,
          and deemed it  more prudent, as well as honourable, to adopt
          virtue and merit  for  her  own wheresoever they were found,
          among slaves or  strangers, enemies or barbarians. (20) During 
          the most flourishing  era  of the Athenian commonwealth, the
          number of citizens  gradually decreased from about thirty (21) 
          to twenty-one thousand. (22) If, on the contrary, we study the 
          growth  of  the  Roman  republic,  we  may  discover,  that,
          notwithstanding the incessant  demands of wars and colonies,
          the citizens, who,  in  the first census of Servius Tullius,
          amounted  to  no   more  than  eighty-three  thousand,  were
          multiplied, before the  commencement  of  the social war, to
          the number of  four  hundred  and  sixty-three thousand men,
          able to bear  arms  in the service of their country. (23) When 
          the allies of  Rome  claimed  an  equal share of honours and
          privileges, the senate  indeed  preferred the chance of arms
          to an ignominious concession. The Samnites and the Lucanians
          paid the severe  penalty  of their rashness; but the rest of
          the Italian states,  as  they successively returned to their
          duty, were admitted  into  the bosom of the republic, (24) and 
          soon contributed to  the  ruin  of  public  freedom. Under a
          democratical government, the citizens exercise the powers of
          sovereignty; and those  powers  will  be  first  abused, and
          afterwards  lost, if  they  are  committed  to  an  unwieldy
          multitude.  But  when   the   popular  assemblies  had  been
          suppressed  by  the  administration  of  the  emperors,  the
          conquerors were distinguished  from  the vanquished nations,
          only as the first and most honourable order of subjects; and
          their increase, however  rapid, was no longer exposed to the
          same dangers. Yet the wisest princes, who adopted the maxims
          of Augustus, guarded  with the strictest care the dignity of
          the Roman name,  and diffused the freedom of the city with a
          prudent liberality. (25) 
          Till  the  privileges   of  Romans  had  been  progressively
          extended to all  the inhabitants of the empire, an important
          distinction was preserved  between  Italy and the provinces.
          The former was  esteemed the centre of public unity, and the
          firm basis of  the constitution. Italy claimed the birth, or
          at least the  residence,  of the emperors and the senate. (26) 
          The estates of  the  Italians  were exempt from taxes, their
          persons from the  arbitrary jurisdiction of governors. Their
          municipal corporations, formed  after  the  perfect model of
          the capital, were  entrusted, under the immediate eye of the
          supreme power, with the execution of the laws. From the foot
          of the Alps to the extremity of Calabria, all the natives of
          Italy were born citizens of Rome. Their partial distinctions
          were obliterated, and  they  insensibly  coalesced  into one
          great  nation,  united   by  language,  manners,  and  civil
          institutions, and equal  to the weight of a powerful empire.
          The  republic  gloried  in  her  generous  policy,  and  was
          frequently rewarded by the merit and services of her adopted
          sons. Had she  always  confined the distinction of Romans to
          the ancient families  within  the  walls  of  the city, that
          immortal name would  have  been  deprived  of  some  of  its
          noblest ornaments. Virgil was a native of Mantua; Horace was
          inclined to doubt  whether he should call himself an Apulian
          or a Lucanian:  it  was in Padua that an historian was found
          worthy to record the majestic series of Roman victories. The
          patriot family of  the  Catos emerged from Tusculum; and the
          little  town  of   Arpinum  claimed  the  double  honour  of
          producing Marius and  Cicero,  the  former of whom deserved,
          after Romulus and  Camillus,  to be styled the Third Founder
          of Rome; and  the  latter, after saving his country from the
          designs of Catiline,  enabled her to contend with Athens for
          the palm of eloquence. (27) 

The Provinces. 
          The provinces of the empire (as they have: been described in
          the preceding chapter)  were  destitute of any public force,
          or constitutional freedom.  In Etruria, in Greece, (28) and in 
          Gaul, (29) it  was  the  first  care of the senate to dissolve 
          those dangerous confederacies, which taught mankind, that as
          the Roman arts prevailed by division, they might be resisted
          by union. Those  princes,  whom the ostentation of gratitude
          or generosity permitted  for  a  while  to hold a precarious
          sceptre, were dismissed  from  their thrones as soon as they
          had performed their appointed task of fashioning to the yoke
          the vanquished nations. The free states and cities which had
          embraced the cause  of  Rome,  were  rewarded with a nominal
          alliance,  and insensibly  sunk  into  real  servitude.  The
          public authority was  everywhere  exercised by the ministers
          of the senate  and  of  the emperors, and that authority was
          absolute, and without  control. But the same salutary maxims
          of government, which  had secured the peace and obedience of
          Italy, were extended to the most distant conquests. A nation
          of Romans was  gradually  formed  in  the  provinces, by the
          double expedient of  introducing  colonies, and of admitting
          the most faithful  and  deserving  of the provincials to the
          freedom of Rome.

Colonies and municipal towns.
          "Wheresoever the Roman conquers, he inhabits," (30) 
          is a very  just  observation of Seneca, confirmed by history
          and experience. The natives of Italy, allured by pleasure or
          by interest, hastened  to  enjoy  the advantages of victory;
          and  we  may  remark,  that  about  forty  years  after  the
          reduction of Asia,  eighty thousand Romans were massacred in
          one day, by  the  cruel  orders  of  Mithridates.  (31)  These 
          voluntary exiles were  engaged,  for  the  most part, in the
          occupations of commerce,  agriculture,  and  the farm of the
          revenue. But after  the  legions  were rendered permanent by
          the emperors, the  provinces  were  peopled  by  a  race  of
          soldiers; and the veterans, whether they received the reward
          of their service  in  land or in money, usually settled with
          their families in  the  country  where  they  had honourably
          spent  their  youth.   Throughout   the   empire,  but  more
          particularly  in  the   western   parts,  the  most  fertile
          districts, and the most convenient situations, were reserved
          for the establishment  of  colonies; some of which were of a
          civil, and others of a military nature. In their manners and
          internal   policy,   the    colonies    formed   a   perfect
          representation of their  great parent; and as they were soon
          endeared to the  natives  by  the  ties  of  friendship  and
          alliances they effectually  diffused  a  reverence  for  the
          Roman name, and  a desire, which was seldom disappointed, of
          sharing, in due  time,  its  honours  and advantages. (32) The 
          municipal cities insensibly  equalled the rank and splendour
          of the colonies;  and  in  the  reign  of  Hadrian,  it  was
          disputed  which  was  the  preferable  condition,  of  those
          societies which had  issued  from,  or  those which had been
          received into the  bosom of Rome. (33) The right of Latium, as 
          it was called,  conferred on the cities to which it had been
          granted a more  partial favour. The magistrates only, at the
          expiration of their  office,  assumed  the  quality of Roman
          citizens; but as  those  offices were annual, in a few years
          they circulated round  the  principal  families. (34) Those of 
          the provincials who  were  permitted  to  bear  arms  in the
          legions; (35) those  who  exercised any civil employment; all, 
          in a word,  who  performed  any public service, or displayed
          any personal talents,  were  rewarded  with a present, whose
          value  was  continually   diminished   by   the   increasing
          liberality of the  emperors.  Yet  even,  in  the age of the
          Antonines, when the freedom of the city had been bestowed on
          the  greater  number   of   their  subjects,  it  was  still
          accompanied with very  solid  advantages.  The  bulk  of the
          people acquired, with  that  title, the benefit of the Roman
          laws, particularly in  the interesting articles of marriage,
          testaments, and inheritances;  and  the  road of fortune was
          open to those  whose  pretensions were seconded by favour or
          merit. The grandsons  of  the Gauls, who had besieged Julius
          Caesar in Alesia, commanded legions, governed provinces, and
          were admitted into  the  senate  of Rome. (36) Their ambition, 
          instead of disturbing  the  tranquillity  of  the state, was
          intimately connected with its safety and greatness.
Division of the Latin and Greek provinces.
          So sensible were  the  Romans  of  the influence of language
          over national manners,  that  it was their most serious care
          to extend, with  the  progress of their arms, the use of the
          Latin tongue. (37)  The ancient dialects of Italy, the Sabine, 
          the Etruscan, and  the  Venetian, sunk into oblivion; but in
          the provinces, the  east  was  less docile than the west, to
          the  voice  of   its  victorious  preceptors.  This  obvious
          difference marked the  two  portions  of  the  empire with a
          distinction of colours,  which, though it was in some degree
          concealed  during  the  meridian  splendour  of  prosperity,
          became  gradually  more  visible  as  the  shades  of  night
          descended upon the  Roman  world. The western countries were
          civilised by the  same  hands which subdued them. As soon as
          the barbarians were  reconciled  to  obedience,  their minds
          were  opened  to   any  new  impressions  of  knowledge  and
          politeness. The language  of  Virgil and Cicero, though with
          some inevitable mixture  of  corruption,  was so universally
          adopted in Africa,  Spain,  Gaul,  Britain, and Pannonia, (38) 
          that the faint  traces  of  the  Punic or Celtic idioms were
          preserved only in  the  mountains, or among the peasants. (39) 
          Education and study insensibly inspired the natives of those
          countries with the  sentiments  of  Romans;  and  Italy gave
          fashions as well  as  laws  to  her  Latin provincials. They
          solicited with more ardour, and obtained with more facility,
          the freedom and honours of the state; supported the national
          dignity in letters  (40)  and  in arms; and, at length, in the 
          person of Trajan, produced an emperor whom the Scipios would
          not have disowned for their countryman. The situation of the
          Greeks was very  different  from that of the Barbarians. The
          former had been long since civilised and corrupted. They had
          too much taste  to  relinquish  their language, and too much
          vanity to adopt  any  foreign institutions. Still preserving
          the prejudices after  they  had  lost  the  virtues of their
          ancestors, they affected  to  despise the unpolished manners
          of the Roman  conquerors,  whilst  they  were  compelled  to
          respect their superior  wisdom  and  power.  (41)  Nor was the 
          influence of the Grecian language and sentiments confined to
          the narrow limits  of  that  once  celebrated country. Their
          empire, by the  progress  of colonies and conquest, had been
          diffused from the  Hadriatic  to the Euphrates and the Nile.
          Asia was covered  with  Greek  cities, and the long reign of
          the Macedonian kings had introduced a silent revolution into
          Syria and Egypt.  In  their  pompous  courts  those  princes
          united the elegance  of  Athens with the luxury of the East,
          and the example  of  the  court  was  imitated, at an humble
          distance, by the  higher  ranks  of their subjects. Such was
          the general division  of the Roman empire into the Latin and
          Greek languages. To these we may add a third distinction for
          the body of  the  natives in Syria, and especially in Egypt.
          The use of  their  ancient  dialects, by secluding them from
          the commerce of  mankind,  checked the improvements of those
          barbarians.  (42)  The  slothful  effeminacy  of  the  former, 
          exposed them to  the  contempt;  the sullen ferociousness of
          the latter, excited the aversion of the conquerors. (43) Those 
          nations had submitted  to  the  Roman power, but they seldom
          desired or deserved  the  freedom  of  the  city; and it was
          remarked that more than two hundred and thirty years elapsed
          after the ruin  of  the  Ptolemies  before  an  Egyptian was
          admitted into the senate of Rome. (44) 

General use of both languages.
          It is a  just though trite observation, that victorious Rome
          was herself subdued  by  the  arts of Greece. Those immortal
          writers who still  command  the admiration of modern Europe,
          soon became the  favourite  object of study and imitation in
          Italy and the  western provinces. But the elegant amusements
          of the Romans  were  not  suffered  to  interfere with their
          sound maxims of  policy. Whilst they acknowledged the charms
          of the Greek, they asserted the dignity of the Latin tongue,
          and  the  exclusive   use   of  the  latter  was  inflexibly
          maintained  in  the  administration  of  civil  as  well  as
          military government. (45)  The  two languages exercised at the 
          same time their separate jurisdiction throughout the empire:
          the former as the natural idiom of science; the later as the
          legal  dialect of  public  transactions.  Those  who  united
          letters with business were equally conversant with both; and
          it was almost  impossible,  in any province, to find a Roman
          subject of a  liberal  education, who was at once a stranger
          to the Greek and to the Latin language.

          It was by  such  institutions that the nations of the empire
          insensibly melted away  into  the Roman name and people. But
          there still remained, in the centre of every province and of
          every family, an  unhappy  condition  of men who endured the
          weight, without sharing  the  benefits,  of  society. In the
          free states of antiquity the domestic slaves were exposed to
          the wanton rigour  of  despotism.  The perfect settlement of
          the Roman empire  was  preceded  by  ages  of  violence  and
Their treatment. rapine.  The  slaves consisted,  for  the  most  part,  of
          barbarian captives, taken in thousands by the chance of war,
          purchased at a  vile  price,  (46)  accustomed  to  a  life of 
          independence, and impatient  to  break  and to revenge their
          fetters.  Against such  internal  enemies,  whose  desperate
          insurrections had more than once reduced the republic to the
          brink of destruction, (47) the most severe regulations, (48) and 
          the most cruel  treatment,  seemed  almost  justified by the
          great  law of  self-preservation.  But  when  the  principal
          nations of Europe,  Asia,  and Africa, were united under the
          laws of one sovereign, the source of foreign supplies flowed
          with much less abundance, and the Romans were reduced to the
          milder but more  tedious  method  of  propagation.  In their
          numerous  families,  and   particularly   in  their  country
          estates, they encouraged  the  marriage of their slaves. The
          sentiments of nature,  the  habits  of  education,  and  the
          possession of a  dependent  species of property, contributed
          to alleviate the hardships of servitude. (49) The existence of 
          a slave became  an  object  of greater value, and though his
          happiness still depended  on the temper and circumstances of
          the master, the  humanity  of  the  latter, instead of being
          restrained by fear,  was  encouraged by the sense of his own
          interest. The progress  of  manners  was  accelerated by the
          virtue or policy  of  the  emperors;  and  by  the edicts of
          Hadrian and the  Antonines,  the  protection of the laws was
          extended  to  the   most   abject   part   of  mankind.  The
          jurisdiction of life and death over the slaves, a power long
          exercised and often  abused, was taken out of private hands,
          and reserved to  the  magistrates  alone.  The subterraneous
          prisons  were abolished;  and,  upon  a  just  complaint  of
          intolerable treatment, the injured slave obtained either his
          deliverance, or a less cruel master. (50) 

          Hope, the best  comfort  of our imperfect condition, was not
          denied to the  Roman slave; and if he had any opportunity of
          rendering himself either  useful or agreeable, he might very
          naturally expect that  the  diligence  and fidelity of a few
          years  would  be  rewarded  with  the  inestimable  gift  of
          freedom. The benevolence  of  the  master  was so frequently
          prompted by the  meaner  suggestions  of vanity and avarice,
          that the laws  found  it  more necessary to restrain than to
          encourage a profuse  and  undistinguishing liberality, which
          might degenerate into  a  very  dangerous abuse (51). It was a 
          maxim of ancient  jurisprudence, that as a slave had not any
          country  of  his  own.  He  acquired  with  his  liberty  an
          admission into the political society of which his patron was
          a  member.  The   consequences  of  this  maxim  would  have
          prostituted the privileges  of  the Roman city to a mean and
          promiscuous  multitude.  Some   seasonable  exceptions  were
          therefore  provided;  and  the  honourable  distinction  was
          confined to such  slaves  only, as for just causes, and with
          the approbation of  the  Magistrate, should receive a solemn
          and legal manumission.  Even  these chosen freedmen obtained
          no more than  the  private  rights  of  citizens,  and  were
          rigorously excluded from civil or military honours. Whatever
          might be the merit or fortune of their sons, they likewise,
          were esteemed unworthy of a seat in the senate; nor were the
          traces  of  a   servile  origin  allowed  to  be  completely
          obliterated till the  third or fourth generation. (52) Without 
          destroying the distinction  of  ranks, a distant prospect of
          freedom and honours  was presented, even to those whom pride
          and prejudice almost  disdained  to  number  among the human
          It  was once  proposed  to  discriminate  the  slaves  by  a
          peculiar habit; but  it  was  justly  apprehended that there
          might be some  danger  in  acquainting  them  with their own
          numbers.   (53)  Without   interpreting,   in   their   utmost 
          strictness, the liberal appellations of legions and myriads,
          (54) we may  venture  to  pronounce,  that  the  proportion of 
          slaves, who were  valued  as property, was more considerable
          than that of  servants,  who  can  be  computed  only  as an
          expense. (55) The youths of a promising genius were instructed 
          in the arts and sciences, and their price was ascertained by
          the degree of  their  skill  and  talents.  (56)  Almost every 
          profession, either liberal  (57) or mechanical, might be found 
          in the household  of  an  opulent  senator. The ministers of
          pomp and sensuality were multiplied beyond the conception of
          modern luxury. (58)  It  was  more  for  the  interest  of the 
          merchant  or manufacturer  to  purchase  than  to  hire  his
          workmen; and in  the  country,  slaves  were employed as the
          cheapest and most  laborious  instruments of agriculture. To
          confirm  the  general   observation,   and  to  display  the
          multitude of slaves, we might allege a variety of particular
          instances. It was discovered, on a very melancholy occasion,
          that four hundred  slaves were maintained in a single palace
          of Rome. (59)  The  same number of four hundred belonged to an 
          estate which an  African widow, of a very private condition,
          resigned to her  son, whilst she reserved for herself a much
          larger share of her property. (60) A freedman, under the reign 
          of Augustus, though his fortune had suffered great losses in
          the civil wars,  left  behind him three thousand six hundred
          yoke of oxen, two hundred and fifty thousand head of smaller
          cattle, and, what  was almost included in the description of
          cattle, four thousand one hundred and sixteen slaves. (61) 
Populousness of the Roman empire.
          The number of subjects who acknowledged the laws of Rome, of
          citizens, of provincials, and of slaves, cannot now be fixed
          with such a  degree  of  accuracy,  as the importance of the
          object would deserve.  We are informed that when the emperor
          Claudius exercised the  office of censor, he took an account
          of six millions  nine  hundred and forty-five thousand Roman
          citizens, who, with  the  proportion  of women and children,
          must have amounted  to  about  twenty millions of souls. The
          multitude of subjects  of an inferior rank was uncertain and
          fluctuating.  But,  after   weighing  with  attention  every
          circumstance which could  influence  the  balance,  it seems
          probable that there  existed, in the time of Claudius, about
          twice as many  provincials as there were citizens, of either
          sex, and of  every  age;  and  that the slaves were at least
          equal in number  to the free inhabitants of the Roman world.
          The total amount of this imperfect calculation would rise to
          about one hundred  and  twenty millions of persons; a degree
          of population which  possibly exceeds that of modern Europe,
          (62) and forms  the  most  numerous society that has ever been 
          united under the same system of government.
Obedience and union.
          Domestic peace and  union  were  the natural consequences of
          the  moderate  and  comprehensive  policy  embraced  by  the
          Romans. If we  turn our eyes towards the monarchies of Asia,
          we shall behold despotism in the centre, and weakness in the
          extremities;  the  collection   of   the   revenue,  or  the
          administration of justice,  enforced  by  the presence of an
          army - hostile  barbarians  established  in the heart of the
          country, hereditary satraps  usurping  the  dominion  of the
          provinces,  and  subjects   inclined  to  rebellion,  though
          incapable of freedom.  But  the obedience of the Roman world
          was  uniform,  voluntary,   and  permanent.  The  vanquished
          nations, blended into  one  great people, resigned the hope,
          nay even the  wish,  of  resuming  their  independence,  and
          scarcely considered their own existence as distinct from the
          existence of Rome. The established authority of the emperors
          pervaded  without  an   effort  the  wide  extent  of  their
          dominions, and was  exercised  with the same facility on the
          banks of the  Thames,  or  of  the  Nile, as on those of the
          Tiber. The legions were destined to serve against the public
          enemy, and the civil magistrate seldom required the aid of a
          military force. (63)  In  this  state of general security, the 
          leisure as well  as  opulence  both of the prince and people
          were devoted to improve and to adorn the Roman empire.
Roman monuments.
          Among the innumerable  monuments of architecture constructed
          by the Romans,  how many have escaped the notice of history,
          how few have resisted the ravages of time and barbarism! And
          yet even the  majestic  ruins  that are still scattered over
          Italy and the  provinces,  would be sufficient to prove that
          those countries were  once the seat of a polite and powerful
          empire.  Their  greatness  alone,  or  their  beauty,  might
          deserve  our  attention;   but   they   are   rendered  more
          interesting by two  important  circumstances,  which connect
          the agreeable history  of  the  arts  with  the  more useful
          history of human  manners.  Many of those works were erected
          at private expense,  and almost all were intended for public
Many of them erected at private expense. 
         It is natural  to  suppose that the greatest number, as well
          as the most  considerable of the Roman edifices, were raised
          by the emperors who possessed so unbounded a command both of
          men and money.  Augustus was accustomed to boast that he had
          found his capital  of  brick,  and  that  he  had left it of
          marble. (64) The strict economy of Vespasian was the source of 
          his magnificence. The  works of Trajan bear the stamp of his
          genius. The public  monuments  with  which  Hadrian  adorned
          every province of  the empire, were executed not only by his
          orders, but under  his  immediate inspection. He was himself
          an artist; and  he  loved  the arts, as they conduced to the
          glory of the monarch. They were encouraged by the Antonines,
          as they contributed  to  the happiness of the people. But if
          the  emperors  were  the  first,  they  were  not  the  only
          architects of their dominions. Their example was universally
          imitated by their principal subjects, who were not afraid of
          declaring to the world that they had spirit to conceive, and
          wealth to accomplish, the noblest undertakings. Scarcely had
          the proud structure  of the Coliseum been dedicated at Rome,
          before the edifices  of  a  smaller scale indeed, but of the
          same design and  materials,  were erected for the use and at
          the expense, of  the  cities  of  Capua  and  Verona. (65) The 
          inscription of the  stupendous  bridge  of Alcantara attests
          that it was  thrown  over the Tagus by the contribution of a
          few Lusitanian communities.  When  Pliny  was intrusted with
          the government of Bithynia and Pontus, provinces by no means
          the richest or most considerable of the empire, he found the
          cities within his  jurisdiction  striving with each other in
          every useful and  ornamental  work,  that  might deserve the
          curiosity of strangers,  or the gratitude of their citizens.
          It  was  the   duty   of   the  Proconsul  to  supply  their
          deficiencies,  to  direct  their  taste,  and  sometimes  to
          moderate their emulation.  (66)  The  opulent senators of Rome 
          and the provinces  esteemed  it  an  honour,  and  almost an
          obligation, to adorn the splendour of their age and country;
          and the influence  of  fashion  very frequently supplied the
          want of taste  or generosity. Among a crowd of these private
          benefactors, we may  select  Herodes  Atticus,  an  Athenian
          citizen, who lived  in  the  age of the Antonines. What ever
          might be the  motive  of his conduct, his magnificence would
          have been worthy of the greatest kings.
Example of Herodes Atticus.
          The family of  Herod, at least after it had been favoured by
          fortune, was lineally  descended  from  Cimon and Miltiades,
          Theseus and Cecrops,  Leacus  and Jupiter. But the posterity
          of so many  gods  and heroes was fallen into the most abject
          state. His grandfather had suffered by the hands of justice,
          and Julius Atticus,  his father, must have ended his life in
          poverty and contempt,  had  he  not  discovered  an  immense
          treasure buried under  an old house, the last remains of his
          patrimony. According to the rigour of law, the emperor might
          have asserted his  claim, and the prudent Atticus prevented,
          by a rank  confession,  the  officiousness of informers. But
          the equitable Nerva,  who then filled the throne, refused to
          accept any part  of  it,  and  commanded him to use, without
          scruple, the present of fortune. The cautious Athenian still
          insisted  that the  treasure  was  too  considerable  for  a
          subject, and that he knew not how to use it. Abuse it, then,
          replied the monarch, with a good-natured peevishness; for it
          is your own.  (67)  Many  will  be  of  opinion  that  Atticus 
          literally obeyed the  emperor's  last instructions; since he
          expended the greatest  part  of  his fortune, which was much
          increased by an advantageous marriage, in the service of the
          Public. He had  obtained for his son Herod the prefecture of
          the free cities of Asia; and the young magistrate, observing
          that the town  of  Troas  was  indifferently  supplied  with
          water,  obtained  from  the  munificence  of  Hadrian  three
          hundred myriads of drachms (about a hundred thousand pounds)
          for the construction of a new aqueduct. But in the execution
          of the work  the  charge  amounted  to  more than double the
          estimate, and the  officers  of the revenue began to murmur,
          till the generous  Atticus  silenced  their  complaints,  by
          requesting that he  might  be permitted to take upon himself
          the whole additional expense. (68) 
His reputation.
          The ablest preceptors of Greece and Asia had been invited by
          liberal rewards to  direct  the  education  of  young Herod.
          Their pupil soon became a celebrated orator according to the
          useless rhetoric of that age, which, confining itself to the
          schools, disdained to  visit either the Forum or the senate.
          He  was honoured  with  the  consulship  at  Rome;  but  the
          greatest  part of  his  life  was  spent  in  a  philosophic
          retirement at Athens,  and  his adjacent villas; perpetually
          surrounded   by   sophists,    who   acknowledged,   without
          reluctance, the superiority of a rich and generous rival. (69) 
          The monuments of his genius have perished; some considerable
          ruins still preserve  the fame of his taste and munificence:
          modern travellers have  measured  the remains of the stadium
          which he constructed  at  Athens. It was six hundred feet in
          length, built entirely of white marble, capable of admitting
          the whole body  of  the  people, and finished in four years,
          whilst Herod was  president  of  the  Athenian games. To the
          memory of his  wife  Regina he dedicated a theatre, scarcely
          to be paralleled  in  the empire; no wood except cedar, very
          curiously carved, was  employed in any part of the building.
          The Odeum, designed  by  Pericles  for musical performances,
          and the rehearsal of new tragedies, had been a trophy of the
          victory of the  arts over Barbaric greatness, as the timbers
          employed in the  construction consisted chiefly of the masts
          of the Persian vessels. Notwithstanding the repairs bestowed
          on that ancient  edifice  by  a  king  of Cappadocia, it was
          again fallen to decay. Herod restored its ancient beauty and
          magnificence. Nor was  the  liberality  of  that illustrious
          citizen confined to  the  walls of Athens. The most splendid
          ornaments bestowed on  the temple of Neptune in the Isthmus,
          a theatre at  Corinth,  a  stadium  at  Delphi,  a  bath  at
          Thermopylae, and an  aqueduct  at  Canusium  in  Italy, were
          insufficient to exhaust his treasures. The people of Epirus,
          Thessaly, Eubcea, Boeotia, and Peloponnesus, experienced his
          favours; and many  inscriptions  of the cities of Greece and
          Asia  gratefully style  Herodes  Atticus  their  patron  and
          benefactor. (70) 
Most of the Roman monuments for public use;temples, theatres aqueducts etc.
          In  the  commonwealths   of  Athens  and  Rome,  the  modest
          simplicity of private  houses  announced the equal condition
          of  freedom;  whilst  the  sovereignty  of  the  people  was
          represented in the  majestic edifices destined to the public
          use; (71) nor  was this republican spirit totally extinguished 
          by the introduction  of wealth and monarchy. It was in works
          of national honour  and  benefit,  that the most virtuous of
          the emperors affected  to  display  their  magnificence. The
          golden palace of  Nero  excited  a just indignation, but the
          vast extent of  ground which had been usurped by his selfish
          luxury, was more nobly filled under the succeeding reigns by
          the Coliseum, the  baths of Titus, the Claudian portico, and
          the temples dedicated  to  the  goddess of Peace, and to the
          genius of Rome.  (72)  These  monuments  of  architecture, the 
          property of the  Roman  people,  were  adorned with the most
          beautiful productions of Grecian painting and sculpture; and
          in the temple  of  Peace  a very curious library was open to
          the curiosity of  the  learned.  At  a  small  distance from
          thence was situated  the  Forum of Trajan. It was surrounded
          with a lofty  portico,  in  the  form  of a quadrangle, into
          which four triumphal  arches  opened  a  noble  and spacious
          entrance: in the  centre  arose  a  column  of marble, whose
          height, of one  hundred  and ten feet, denoted the elevation
          of the hill that had been cut away. This column, which still
          subsists  in  its   ancient   beauty,   exhibited  an  exact
          representation of the  Dacian  victories of its founder. The
          veteran soldier contemplated the story of his own campaigns,
          and by an  easy  illusion  of  national vanity, the peaceful
          citizen associated himself  to  the  honours of the triumph.
          All the other quarters of the capital, and all the provinces
          of the empire,  were  embellished by the same liberal spirit
          of public magnificence,  and were filled with amphitheatres,
          theatres, temples, porticos,  triumphal  arches,  baths, and
          aqueducts,  all  variously  conducive  to  the  health,  the
          devotion, and the pleasures of the meanest citizen. The last
          mentioned of those  edifices deserve our peculiar attention.
          The  boldness  of   the  enterprise,  the  solidity  of  the
          execution, and the uses to which they were subservient, rank
          the aqueducts among  the  noblest  monuments of Roman genius
          and  power. The  aqueducts  of  the  capital  claim  a  just
          pre-eminence; but the  curious  traveller,  who, without the
          light of history,  should examine those of Spoleto, of Metz,
          or of Segovia,  would  very  naturally  conclude  that those
          provincial towns had  formerly  been  the  residence of some
          potent monarch. The  solitudes  of Asia and Africa were once
          covered with flourishing  cities,  whose  populousness,  and
          even  whose existence,  was  derived  from  such  artificial
          supplies of a perennial stream of fresh water. (73) 
Number and greatness of the cities of the empire.
         We have computed the inhabitants and contemplated the public
          works of the Roman empire. The observation of the number and
          greatness of its  cities  will  serve to confirm the former,
          and to multiply  the  latter.  It  may  not be unpleasing to
          collect a few  scattered instances relative to that subject,
          without forgetting, however, that from the vanity of nations
          and the poverty  of  language, the vague appellation of city
          has been indifferently  bestowed on Rome and upon Laurentum.
          Ancient Italy is  said  to have contained eleven hundred andIn Italy.
          ninety-seven cities; and for whatsoever era of antiquity the
          expression might be  intended, (74) there is not any reason to 
          believe  the  country  less  populous  in  the  age  of  the
          Antonines than in  that  of  Romulus.  The  petty  states of
          Latium were contained  within  the metropolis of the empire,
          by whose superior  influence  they had been attracted. Those
          parts of Italy  which have so long languished under the lazy
          tyranny of priests  and viceroys, had been afflicted only by
          the more tolerable calamities of war; and the first symptoms
          of decay which  they  experienced  were amply compensated by
          the rapid improvements  of the Cisalpine Gaul. The splendour
          of Verona may  be traced in its remains: yet Verona was less
          celebrated than Aquileia or Padua, Milan or Ravenna. II. The
          spirit of improvement  had  passed  the  Alps, and been felt
          even in the  woods  of Britain, which were gradually cleared
          away  to open  a  free  space  for  convenient  and  elegant
          habitations. York was  the  seat  of  government; London was
          already enriched by  commerce;  and  Bath was celebrated for
          the salutary effects  of  its  medicinal  waters. Gaul could Gaul and Spain.
          boast of her  twelve  hundred  cities; (75) and though, in the 
          northern  parts,  many  of  them,  without  excepting  Paris
          itself,  were  little  more  than  the  rude  and  imperfect
          townships  of  a   rising  people,  the  southern  provinces
          imitated the wealth  and elegance of Italy. (76) Many were the 
          cities  of  Gaul,   Marseilles,   Aries,  Nismes,  Narbonne,
          Thoulouse, Bourdeaux, Autun,  Vienna,  Lyons,  Langres,  and
          Treves, whose ancient  condition might sustain an equal, and
          perhaps advantageous comparison  with  their  present state.
          With regard to Spain, that country flourished as a province,
          and has declined as a kingdom. Exhausted by the abuse of her
          strength, by America,  and  by superstition, her pride might
          possibly be confounded,  if we required such a list of three
          hundred and sixty  cities,  as Pliny has exhibited under the
          reign of Vespasian. (77) III. Three hundred African cities had Africa.
          once acknowledged the  authority  of  Carthage, (78) nor is it 
          likely   that   their    numbers    diminished   under   the
          administration of the  emperors:  Carthage  itself rose with
          new splendour from  its  ashes; and that capital, as well as
          Capua and Corinth,  soon  recovered all the advantages which
          can  be separated  from  independent  sovereignty. IV. The Asia. 
          provinces  of  the   east  present  the  contrast  of  Roman
          magnificence with Turkish  barbarism. The ruins of antiquity
          scattered  over  uncultivated   fields,   and  ascribed,  by
          ignorance, to the  power of magic, scarcely afford a shelter
          to the oppressed  peasant or wandering Arab. Under the reign
          of the Caesars, the proper Asia alone contained five hundred
          populous cities, (79)  enriched  with all the gifts of nature, 
          and adorned with  all  the refinements of art. Eleven cities
          of Asia had  once disputed the honour of dedicating a temple
          to Tiberius, and  their  respective  merits were examined by
          the senate. (80)  Four  of  them  were immediately rejected as 
          unequal to the  burden;  and among these was Laodicea, whose
          splendour is still  displayed  in  its  ruins.  (81)  Laodicea 
          collected a very  considerable  revenue  from  its flocks of
          sheep, celebrated for  the  fineness  of their wool, and had
          received, a little  before  the  contest,  a legacy of above
          four hundred thousand  pounds by the testament of a generous
          citizen. (82) If  such  was the poverty of Laodicea, what must 
          have been the  wealth  of those cities, whose claim appeared
          preferable, and particularly  of Pergamus, of Smyrna, and of
          Ephesus, who so  long  disputed  with  each  other  over the
          titular primacy of  Asia. (83) The capitals of Syria and Egypt 
          held a still  superior  rank  in  the  empire:  Antioch  and
          Alexandria looked down  with disdain on a crowd of dependent
          cities, (84) and  yielded,  with reluctance, to the majesty of 
          Rome itself.
Roman Roads.
          All these cities  were  connected  with each other, and with
          the capital, by  the public highways, which issuing from the
          Forum of Rome,  traversed Italy, pervaded the provinces, and
          were terminated only  by  the frontiers of the empire. If we
          carefully trace the  distance  from the wall of Antoninus to
          Rome, and from  thence  to  Jerusalem, it will be found that
          the great chain of communication, from the north-west to the
          south-east point of  the empire, was drawn out to the length
          of four thousand and eighty Roman miles. (85) The public roads 
          were accurately divided  by mile-stones, and ran in a direct
          line from one  city to another, with very little respect for
          the  obstacles  either   of   nature  or  private  property.
          Mountains were perforated,  and  bold arches thrown over the
          broadest and most  rapid  streams. (86) The middle part of the 
          road was raised  into a terrace which commanded the adjacent
          country, consisted of  several  strata  of sand, gravel, and
          cement, and was  paved with large stones, or in some places,
          near the capital,  with  granite.  (87)  Such  was  the  solid 
          construction of the  Roman  highways, whose firmness has not
          entirely yielded to  the  effort  of fifteen centuries. They
          united the subjects of the most distant provinces by an easy
          and familiar intercourse;  but their primary object had been
          to facilitate the  marches  of  the  legions;  nor  was  any
          country considered as  completely  subdued, till it had been
          rendered,  in all  its  parts,  pervious  to  the  arms  and
          authority of the  conqueror. The advantage of receiving the Posts. 
          earliest intelligence, and  of  conveying  their orders with
          celerity, induced the emperors to establish throughout their
          extensive dominions, the  regular  institution  of posts. (88) 
          Houses were everywhere  erected at the distance only of five
          or six miles;  each  of  them  was  constantly provided with
          forty horses, and by the help of these relays it was easy to
          travel an hundred  miles  in a day along the Roman roads. (89) 
          The use of  the posts was allowed to those who claimed it by
          an Imperial mandate;  but though originally intended for the
          public service, it was sometimes indulged to the business or
          conveniency   of  private   citizens.90 Nor was the   Navigation  
          communication of the  Roman empire less free and open by sea
          than it was  by  land. The provinces surrounded and inclosed
          the Mediterranean; and  Italy  in  the  shape  of an immense
          promontory, advanced into  the midst of that great lake. The          coasts of Italy are, in general, destitute of safe harbours;
          but human industry had corrected the deficiencies of nature;
          and the artificial  port of Ostia, in particular, situate at
          the mouth of  the Tyber, and formed by the emperor Claudius,
          was a useful monument of Roman greatness. (91) From this port, 
          which was only  sixteen miles from the capital, a favourable
          breeze frequently carried  vessels  in  seven  days  to  the
          columns of Hercules.  and  in  nine or ten, to Alexandria in
          Egypt. (92) 
Improvement of agriculture in the western countries of the empire.
          Whatever evils either  reason or declamation have imputed to
          extensive empire, the  power  of Rome was attended with some
          beneficial consequences to  mankind; and the same freedom of
          intercourse which extended  the vices, diffused likewise the
          improvements of social  life.  In  the  more  remote ages of
          antiquity, the world  was unequally divided. The east was in
          the immemorial possession  of  arts  and  luxury; whilst the
          west was inhabited  by  rude  and  war-like  barbarians, who
          either disdained agriculture,  or  to  whom  it  was totally
          unknown. Under the  protection of an established government,
          the productions of  happier  climates,  and  the industry of
          more civilised nations,  were  gradually introduced into the
          western  countries  of   Europe;   and   the   natives  were
          encouraged, by an  open and profitable commerce, to multiply
          the former, as  well  as  to improve the latter. It would be
          almost impossible to  enumerate  all the articles, either of
          the animal or  the  vegetable reign, which were successively
          imported into Europe,  from  Asia  and Egypt; (93) but it will 
          not be unworthy  of  the  dignity,  and  much  less  of  the
          utility, of an  historical  work, slightly to touch on a few
          of the principal heads. 1/ Almost all the flowers, the Introduction of fruits etc.
          herbs, and the  fruits,  that  grow in our European gardens,
          are of foreign extraction, which, in many cases, is betrayed
          even by their  names:  the  apple was a native of Italy, and
          when  the Romans  had  tasted  the  richer  flavour  of  the
          apricot, the peach,  the  pomegranate,  the  citron, and the
          orange, they contented themselves with applying to all these
          new fruits the  common denomination of apple, discriminating
          them from each  other  by  the  additional  epithet of their
          country. 2/ In the time of Homer, the vine grew wild in the  The vine.
          island  of  Sicily,   and  most  probably  in  the  adjacent
          continent; but it  was not improved by the skill, nor did it
          afford  a liquor  grateful  to  the  taste,  of  the  savage
          inhabitants. (94) 
          A thousand years  afterwards, Italy could boast, that of the
          fourscore most generous  and  celebrated  wines,  more  than
          two-thirds were produced  from her soil. (95) The blessing was 
          soon communicated to the Narbonnese province of Gaul; but so
          intense was the  cold to the north of the Cevennes, that, in
          the time of  Strabo,  it was thought impossible to ripen the
          grapes in those  parts of Gaul. (96) This difficulty, however, 
          was  gradually vanquished;  and  there  is  some  reason  to
          believe, that the  vineyards  of  Burgundy are as old as the
          age of the  Antonines.(97) The Olive in the western world,The olive, 
          followed the progress  of  peace, of which it was considered
          as the symbol.  Two  centuries after the foundation of Rome,
          both Italy and  Africa  were strangers to that useful plant;
          it was naturalised in those countries; and at length carried
          into the heart  of  Spain  and Gaul. The timid errors of the
          ancients, that it  required  a  certain  degree of heat, and
          could only flourish  in  the  neighbourhood of the sea, were
          insensibly  exploded by  industry  and  experience.(98)The 
          cultivation of Flax was transported from Egypt to Gaul, and flax 
          enriched the whole  country, however it might impoverish the
          particular lands on  which  it  was  sown. (99) 3/. The use of   
artificial grasses artificial grasses became  familiar  to  the farmers both of
          Italy and the  provinces,  particularly  the  Lucerne, which
          derived its name  and  origin  from  Media.  (100) The assured 
          supply of wholesome and plentiful food for the cattle during
          winter multiplied the  number of the flocks and herds, which
          in their turn  contributed  to the fertility of the soil. To
          all these improvements  may  be added an assiduous attention
          to mines and  fisheries,  which, by employing a multitude of
          laborious hands, serve  to  increase  the  pleasures  of the
          rich, and the  subsistence of the poor. The elegant treatise
          of Columella describes  the  advanced  state  of the Spanish
          husbandry, under the  reign  of  Tiberius;  and  it  may  be
          observed, that those  famines  which so frequently afflicted General plenty 
          the infant republic, were seldom or never experienced by the
          extensive empire of  Rome.   The accidental scarcity, in any
          single province, was  immediately  relieved by the plenty of
          its more fortunate neighbours.
Arts of luxury 
          Agriculture is the  foundation  of  manufactures,  since the
          productions of nature  are  the  materials of art. Under the
          Roman empire, the  labour  of  an  industrious and ingenious
          people  was variously,  but  incessantly  employed,  in  the
          service of the  rich.  In  their  dress,  their table, their
          houses,  and their  furniture,  the  favourites  of  fortune
          united every refinement  of conveniency, of elegance, and of
          splendour, whatever could  soothe  their  pride  or  gratify
          their sensuality. Such refinements, under the odious name of
          luxury, have been  severely  arraigned  by  the moralists of
          every age; and  it  might  perhaps  be more conducive to the
          virtue, as well  as  happiness, of mankind, if all possessed
          the necessities, and none of the superfluities, of life. But
          in  the present  imperfect  condition  of  society,  luxury,
          though it may  proceed  from  vice or folly, seems to be the
          only means that  can  correct  the  unequal  distribution of
          property. The diligent mechanic, and the skilful artist, who
          have obtained no share in the division of the earth, receive
          a voluntary tax  from the possessors of land; and the latter
          are prompted, by  a  sense  of  interest,  to  improve those
          estates, with whose  produce  they  may  purchase additional
          pleasures. This operation,  the  particular effects of which
          are felt in  every  society,  acted with much more diffusive
          energy in the  Roman  world.  The  provinces would soon have
          been exhausted of  their  wealth,  if  the  manufactures and
          commerce  of luxury  had  not  insensibly  restored  to  the
          industrious subjects the  sums  which were exacted from them
          by  the  arms   and  authority  of  Rome.  As  long  as  the
          circulation was confined within the bounds of the empire, it
          impressed  the  political  machine  with  a  new  degree  of
          activity, and its  consequences, sometimes beneficial, could
          never become pernicious.
Foreign trade 
          But it is  no  easy task to confine luxury within the limits
          of an empire. The most remote countries of the ancient world
          were ransacked to  supply the pomp and delicacy of Rome. The
          forests of Scythia  afforded  some  valuable furs. Amber was
          brought over land  from  the  shores  of  the  Baltic to the
          Danube; and the  barbarians  were  astonished  at  the price
          which they received  in exchange for so useless a commodity.
          (101) There was  a  considerable demand for Babylonian carpets 
          and other manufactures  of  the East; but the most important
          and unpopular branch  of  foreign  trade was carried on with
          Arabia and India.  Every  year, about the time of the summer
          solstice, a fleet  of  a  hundred  and twenty vessels sailed
          from Myoshormos, a  port  of  Egypt,  on the Red Sea. By the
          periodical assistance of  the  Monsoons,  they traversed the
          ocean in about  forty  days.  The  coast  of Malabar, or the
          island  of  Ceylon,   (102)   was  the  usual  term  of  their 
          navigation, and it  was  in those markets that the merchants
          from  the more  remote  countries  of  Asia  expected  their
          arrival. The return  of  the fleet of Egypt was fixed to the
          months of December  or  January;  and  as soon as their rich
          cargo had been  transported on the backs of camels, from the
          Red Sea to  the Nile, and had descended that river as far as
          Alexandria, it was  poured,  without delay, into the capital
          of the empire.  (103)  The  objects  of  oriental traffic were 
          splendid and trifling;  silk,  a pound of which was esteemed
          not inferior in  value  to  a  pound  of  gold; (104) precious 
          stones, among which  the  pearl claimed the first rank after
          the diamond; (105)  and  a  variety  of  aromatics,  that were 
          consumed in religious  worship and the pomp of funerals. The
          labour and risk  of  the  voyage  was  rewarded  with almost
          incredible  profit; but  the  profit  was  made  upon  Roman
          subjects, and a few individuals were enriched at the expense
          of the Public.  As  the  natives  of  Arabia  and India were
Gold and silver contented with the productions and manufactures of their own
          country,  silver,  on  the  side  of  the  Romans,  was  the
          principal, if not  the only instrument of commerce. It was a
          complaint worthy of  the  gravity of the senate, that in the
          purchase of female  ornaments,  the  wealth of the state was
          irrevocably given away  to  foreign and hostile nations. (106) 
          The annual loss  is  computed, by a writer of an inquisitive
          but censorious temper,  at upwards of eight hundred thousand
          pounds sterling. (107)  Such  was  the  style  of  discontent, 
          brooding over the  dark prospect of approaching poverty. And
          yet, if we  compare  the proportion between gold and silver,
          as it stood in the time of Pliny, and as it was fixed in the
          reign of Constantine, we shall discover within that period a
          very considerable increase.   (108)  There  is  not  the least 
          reason to suppose  that  gold  was become more scarce; it is
          therefore evident that  silver  was  grown more common; that
          whatever might be  the  amount  of  the  Indian  and Arabian
          exports, they were  far  from  exhausting  the wealth of the
          Roman world; and  that  the  produce of the mines abundantly
          supplied the demands of commerce.
 General felicity 
          Notwithstanding the propensity  of mankind to exalt the past
          and to depreciate  the  present, the tranquil and prosperous
          state of the empire was warmly felt, and honestly confessed,
          by the provincials  as  well  as  Romans. "They acknowledged
          that the true  principles of social life, laws, agriculture,
          and science, which  had been first invented by the wisdom of
          Athens, were now  firmly  established  by the power of Rome,
          under whose auspicious  influence  the  fiercest  barbarians
          were united by an equal government and common language. They
          affirm, that with the improvement of arts, the human species
          was  visibly  multiplied.   They  celebrate  the  increasing
          splendour of the  cities, the beautiful face of the country,
          cultivated and adorned  like an immense garden; and the long
          festival of peace,  which  was  enjoyed  by so many nations,
          forgetful of their  ancient  animosities, and delivered from
          the apprehension of future danger.'' (109) Whatever suspicions 
          may be suggested  by  the  air  of rhetoric and declamation,
          which seems to  prevail  in these passages, the substance of
          them is perfectly agreeable to historic truth.

Decline of courage 
          It was scarcely  possible  that  the  eyes of contemporaries
          should discover in  the public felicity the latent causes of
          decay and corruption.  This  long  peace,  and  the  uniform
          government of the  Romans,  introduced  a  slow  and  secret
          poison into the  vitals of the empire. The minds of men were
          gradually reduced to  the same level, the fire of genius was
          extinguished, and even  the  military spirit evaporated. The
          natives  of Europe  were  brave  and  robust,  Spain,  Gaul,
          Britain, and Illyricum  supplied  the legions with excellent
          soldiers, and constituted the real strength of the monarchy.
          Their personal valour remained, but they no longer possessed
          that public courage  which  is  nourished  by  the  love  of
          independence, the sense  of national honour, the presence of
          danger, and the  habit  of  command.  They received laws and
          governors from the  will of their sovereign, and trusted for
          their defence to  a  mercenary  army. The posterity of their
          boldest leaders was  contented with the rank of citizens and
          subjects. The most aspiring spirits resorted to the court or
          standard  of  the  emperors;  and  the  deserted  provinces,
          deprived of political  strength  or  union,  insensibly sunk
          into the languid indifference of private life.

of genius  
          The love of  letters,  almost  inseparable  from  peace  and
          refinement, was fashionable  among  the  subjects of Hadrian
          and the Antonines,  who  were themselves men of learning and
          curiosity. It was  diffused  over  the whole extent of their
          empire; the most  northern  tribes of Britons had acquired a
          taste for rhetoric; Homer as well as Virgil were transcribed
          and studied on  the  banks  of the Rhine and Danube; and the
          most liberal rewards  sought out the faintest glimmerings of
          literary merit. (110)  The  sciences  of  physic and astronomy 
          were successfully cultivated by the Greeks; the observations
          of Ptolemy and  the  writings  of Galen are studied by those
          who have improved  their  discoveries  and  corrected  their
          errors; but if  we except the inimitable Lucian, this age of
          indolence  passed away  without  having  produced  a  single
          writer of original  genius,  or  who excelled in the arts of
          elegant composition. The  authority  of Plato and Aristotle,
          of Zeno and  Epicurus,  still  reigned  in  the schools; and
          their systems, transmitted  with  blind  deference  from one
          generation of disciples to another, precluded every generous
          attempt to exercise  the  powers,  or enlarge the limits, of
          the human mind.  The  beauties  of  the  poets  and orators,
          instead of kindling  a  fire  like  their own, inspired only
          cold and servile  imitations:  or if any ventured to deviate
          from those models,  they deviated at the same time from good
          sense and propriety  on the revival of letters, the youthful
          vigour of the  imagination,  after  a  long repose, national
          emulation, a new  religion,  new languages, and a new world,
          called forth the  genius  of  Europe. But the provincials of
          Rome, trained by  a  uniform  artificial  foreign education,
          were engaged in  a  very unequal competition with those bold
          ancients, who, by expressing their genuine feelings in their
          native tongue, had  already  occupied every place of honour.
          The name of  Poet  was  almost forgotten; that of Orator was
          usurped by the  sophists.  A cloud of critics, of compilers,
          of commentators, darkened  the  face  of  learning,  and the
          decline of genius  was  soon  followed  by the corruption of
          The sublime Longinus, who in somewhat a later period, and in
          the court of a Syrian queen, preserved the spirit of ancient
          Athens,  observes  and   laments   this  degeneracy  of  his
          contemporaries, which debased  their  sentiments,  enervated
          their courage, and  depressed  their  talents.  "In the same
          manner," says he,  "as  some children always remain pigmies,
          whose infant limbs  have been too closely confined; thus our
          tender minds, fettered  by  the  prejudices  and habits of a
          just servitude, are  unable  to  expand  themselves,  or  to
          attain that well-proportioned  greatness  which we admire in
          the ancients; who  living  under a popular government, wrote
          with the same  freedom  as  they acted." (111) This diminutive 
          stature of mankind,  if  we  pursue  the metaphor, was daily
          sinking below the  old  standard,  and  the  Roman world was
          indeed peopled by  a race of pygmies; when the fierce giants
          of the north  broke  in,  and  mended  the  puny breed. They
          restored a manly spirit of freedom; and after the revolution
          of ten centuries,  freedom  became the happy parent of taste
          and science.

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