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4 Commencement of contemporary history in Greece. Time and
character of the early historians
INQUIRY INTO THE CREDIBILITY OF THE
EARLY ROMAN HISTORY.
HISTORY OF ROME, FROM THE EXPULSION OF
THE KINGS TO THE BURNING OF THE CITY BY THE GAULS.
PART I. - FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CONSULS
TO THE FIRST SECESSION.
E now enter upon a period of one hundred and twenty
years, which resembles the previous period of two hundred and forty-four years in being prior to all regular contemporary history, but differs from it in approaching more closely to the time when oral traditions were committed to the sure custody of writing. The reminiscences from which this portion of the history was written down were fresher, and more distinct, and had passed through a shorter series of reporters; and hence they probably adhered more closely to the truth, and contained a larger portion of real fact, than the legends out of which the previous history was formed. As the story advances, we cease to float about in entire uncertainty, and we observe some points of fixed and immoveable land rising on the horizon. The mists of night begin to disperse, and we discover some faint traces of real objects.
Jamque rubescebat stellis Aurora fugatis,
But although, when we descend to the siege of Veii and the burning of the city, we come to events of which the substance is clearly historical, we can perceive but little difference in character between the narrative of the early years of the Republic, and that of the last years of the kings. In external evidence they stand on the same ground; and the internal features of the accounts are similar.
§ 2 The change of government which took place upon the expulsion of the Tarquins is described to us as consisting partly in the restoration of old, and partly in the introduction of new, constitutional forms. The beneficent laws of Tullius respecting contracts are stated to have been re-established ; the common sacrifices in the town and country, as they existed under the same king, were renewed; the assembly of citizens, and its power of decision by vote in important matters, together with the other constitutional usages, were restored.() One permanent innovation was made; not only was Tarquin dethroned and banished, but his office of king was abolished; and its powers were divided between two high magistrates, denominated consuls, whose office was annual. The large powers previously exercised by the king were therefore controlled by their division between two persons, and their limitation to a yearly period. (*) An arrangement about the division of the fasces is variously represented: one historian says that Brutus alone had the twelve fasces formerly borne before the king: the other that each consul had twelve fasces, but one had only rods, without axes. (*)
(1) εκκλησίαν τε και αυτοίς απέδοσαν υπέρ των μεγίστων, και ψήφον επιφέρειν, και τάλλα πράττειν όσα κατά τους προτέρους εθισμούς έπραττον; Dion. Hal. v. 2. It is further stated that the census, according to the laws of Servius, which had been suspended during the entire reign of Tarquin II., was revived in the second year of the consular government, ib. c. 20.
(2) Post ubi regium imperium, quod initio conservandæ libertatis atque augendæ reipublicæ fuerat, in superbiam dominationemque se convertit, immutato more, annua imperia binosque imperatores sibi fecere. Eo modo minime posse putabant per licentiam insolescere animum humanum. Sal. lust. Cat. 6. See above, vol. i. p. 537, n. 199.
(3) Dion. Hal. v. 2 ; Livy, ii. 1. Both these regulations concerning the fasces are mentioned by Cicero, but they are attributed by him to Valerius, Rep. ii. 31. Livy says : Brutus prior, concedente collegå, fasces
Livy remarks that if the change from the regal to the consular government had taken place under any of the kings before the second Tarquin, it would have been premature; but that at the moment when it occurred, it was suited to the circumstances of the Roman community. The change from the regal to the consular government is not represented as extensive, or as affecting the essential characteristics of the constitution. AI the chief popular elements of the consular government had already existed under the kings. The principal importance of the change is described as consisting in the substitution of two annual magistrates for the usurped and illegal despotism of Tarquin the Second.
Sallust speaks of the marvellous growth of the city, on the acquisition of liberty, in terms nearly identical with those applied by Herodotus to Athens after the expulsion of the Pisistratidæ. (1) Niebuhr, however, draws a directly opposite inference from the treaty between Rome and Carthage, in the year of the first consuls, which is preserved by Polybius. In this treaty Rome stipulates for the maritime towns of Ardea, Antium, Laurentum, Circeii, and Tarracina, and any other Latin towns which may be subject to Rome. (*) According to the history of the kings, as related to us, the power of Rome did not now extend over all these places. Ardea is described as having been besieged by Tarquin, shortly before his expulsion, but as having made a fifteen years' truce with Rome, and therefore as being at this time independent.(6) It is shortly afterwards included by Dionysius among the Latin towns. (1) Antium is stated to have joined the Latin league in the time of Tarquinius
habuit. Plutarch, Publ. 12, states that Valerius yielded the fasces first to Lucretius as being the senior ; which custom remained to his cwn day. Cicero, ib., has the same statement.
(4) Cat. 7. See above, vol. i. p. 537, n. 198. Compare the account in Herod. vii. 156, of the sudden growth of Syracuse under Gelo.
(5) iii. 22. For the third name, the MSS. appear to have ’Apevtivov, for which Ursinus reads Aavpevtivwy. Niebuhr, vol. i. n. 1183, suggests 'Aplkn vôv, on account of the order of the names, but Aricia is an inland town, and according to its geographical position it would precede Antium. (6) Above, vol. i. p. 521. (7) Dion. Hal. v. 61.