Page images

speeches, may have been fabricated, the main facts were derived from an authentic tradition. Even this view is surrounded with difficulties; for we are unable to draw any clear line between the circumstances which are to be rejected, and the main facts which are worthy of belief. Dionysius indeed mentions that the apologue of Menenius was to be found in all the early Roman histories. This remark seems to imply that the other speeches, which he reports at such length, were not in those histories, and were therefore, like the majority of speeches in the ancient historians, (231) works of pure invention. But as to the successive res gestae in the narration, how are we to discriminate? How much of the proceedings in the Senate, and of the negotiations with the seceders, are we to suppose to be real, and how much fictitious ? Niebuhr is of opinion that L. Junius Brutus is an imaginary person. (232) He is not mentioned by any Roman writer.(233) Yet Dionysius describes him as the leader of the plebeians, their chief orator, and one of the first tribunes. What are we to think of a historical narrative, in which a personage of this importance, alleged to have occupied a conspicuous public office, is considered fictitious ? The general maxim of evidence is, that a falsehood in one part of a story invalidates the credibility of the witness in other parts of his statement. Mendax in uno præsumitur mendax in alio.'(31)

[ocr errors]

(231) With respect to the introduction of imaginary speeches by the ancient historians, see the remarks in the author's Treatise on the Methods of Observation and Reasoning in Politics ; c. vii. § 15.

(232) Hist. vol. i. n. 1357. In his Lectures, however, Niebuhr reco. gnises the reality of L. Junius Brutus in the subsequent contests with the Senate; vol. i. p. 147.

(233) He likewise appears as plebeian edile in two subsequent years in the narrative of Dionysius, and plays a prominent part in the affair of Coriolanus; vii. 14, 26. Plutarch, Cor. 7, follows Dionysius in making Junius Brutus one of the first tribunes. He is also mentioned by Suidas. If there had been any authentic lists of the tribunes and the ediles of this period, there would have been no doubt as to the existence of L. Junius Brutus. The testimony of Ascanius, ad Cic. pro Corn. i. is uncertain. Drumann, Gesch. Roms, vol. iv. p. 3, recognises L. Junius Brutus the tribune as a real person, and inserts him in the series of plebeian Junii.

(234) See the author's work above cited, vol. i. p. 246. This does not

If therefore it is admitted that a large part of the narrative of Dionysius is false, what good ground have we for believing the rest? Assuming however that we are to strip off all the subordinate parts of his narrative, as a later accretion, and to retain only a nucleus of the leading facts, do we find that these can be safely accepted, and that he is confirmed in them by the agreement of the other historians? So far is this from being the case, that the accounts transmitted to us differ widely in the material points of the transaction.

First, there is a discrepancy as to the place to which the seceders withdrew. Dionysius, Livy, Florus, and other authors say that it was the Mons Sacer ;(235) and Dionysius adds that an altar of Jupiter on that eminence was erected at this time. Piso, on the other hand, one of the early historians, (236) affirmed that it was the Aventine hill, which was at the opposite extremity of Rome to the Mons Sacer, a hill situated on the right bank of the Anio, at a distance of three miles. Sallust and Cicero speak of the plebeians as occupying first the Mons Sacer, and afterwards the Aventine.(237)

conflict with the maxim of Paley, that discrepancy in the testimony of different witnesses, as to subordinate points, is consistent with the truth of the main facts deposed ; see ib. p. 321.

(235) όρος τι καταλαμβάνονται πλησίον 'Ανίητος ποταμού κείμενον, ου πρόσω της Ρώμης, ο νυν εξ εκείνου ιερον όρος καλείται ; Dion. Hal. VΙ. 45. He traces the name of Mons Sacer to the secession ; i. e. to the altar which he afterwards states the plebeians to have erected on it; c. 90. Injussu consulum in Sacrum montem secessisse (trans Anienem amnem est), tria ab urbe millia passuum. Ea frequentior fama est, quam, cujus Piso auctor est, in Aventinum secessionem factam esse; Livy, ii. 32. The article in Festus agrees with Dionysius and Livy: Sacer mons appellatur trans Anienem, paulo ultra tertium miliarium ; quod eum plebes, cum secessisset a patribus, creatis tribunis plebis, qui sibi essent auxilio, discedentes Jovi consecraverunt; p. 318. Festus says nothing of the altar. Varro, who calls this secession .the Crustumerine secession,' implies that the Mons Sacer was the place, as it was not very distant from Crustumerium. Tribuni plebei (dieti], quod ex tribunis militum primum tribuni plebei facti qui plebem defenderent, in secessione Crustumerinâ ; De L. L. v. § 81.

(236) Concerning Piso, see above, ch. ii. $ 3.

(237) Dein servili imperio patres plebem exercere, de vitâ atque tergo regio more consulere, agro pellere, et, ceteris expertibus, soli in imperio agere. Quibus agitata sævitiis et maxime fæneris onere oppressa plebes, quum assiduis bellis tributum simul et militiam toleraret, armata Montem Secondly, the cause is not uniformly related. Dionysius and Livy describe the secession as growing exclusively out of the

Sacrum atque Aventinum insedit, tumque tribunos plebis et alia sibi jura paravit; Sallust, Fragm. Hist. lib. i. p. 12, ed. Kritze. In the Jugurthine war, c. 31, the Aventine is alone alluded to : ‘Majores vestri, parandi juris et majestatis constituendæ gratiâ, bis per secessionem armati Aventinum occupavere.' The second secession to the Aventine is that in the time of the Decemvirs ; see Livy, üi. 50; Dion. Hal. xi. 43. In the Republic, Cicero says: “Nam cum esset ex ære alieno commota civitas, plebs Montem Sacrum prius, deinde Aventinum occupaviti' Rep. ii. 33. The passage concerning the tribunate in the Dialogue de Legibus, likewise implies that the Aventine, or some other part of the city, was occupied by the plebs during the first secession. “Čujus primum ortum si recordari volumus, inter arma civium, et occupatis et obsessis urbis locis, procreatum videmus ;' iii. 8. In the fragments of the first oration for Cornelius, however, Cicero, like Livy, speaks of the first secession being to the Mons Sacer exclusively, and the second (or decemviral) secession being first to some place out of Rome (probably the Mons Sacer), whence they came armed to the Aventine. In the Brutus, c. 14, Cicero likewise speaks of the first secession being to the Mons Sacer. It seems not improbable that both Sallust and Cicero have confounded the accounts of the first and second secessions. This remark however does not apply to Piso, whose account excluded the Mons Sacer. The two secessions are clearly distinguished in a speech which Livy puts in the mouth of the dictator, Valerius Corvus, during the Campanian mutiny: ‘Inducite in animum, quod non induxerunt patres avique vestri; non illi, qui in Sacrum Montem secesserunt; non hi, qui postea Aventinum insederunt;' vii. 40. If Livy means the words “patres avique' to be taken literally, his chronology is erroneous; for between the time of which he is speaking, and the two secessions respectively, there are intervals of above 150 and 100 years. Messala Corvinus de Prog. Augusti, c. 31, names both the Aventine and the Mons Sacer, giving the preference to the former: 'Inde ob truculentissimas inter patricios et plebeios seditiones, plebs armata, maximo cum terrore nobilium, in Aventinum, et, ut aliis placet, in Sacrum Collem secesserat; nec inde abduci potuit, donec, ad favorem sui, tribuni plebei primum crearentur.' (The short work extant under this title is a pseudonymous compilation of late date.) Florus mentions only the Mons Sacer: "Prima discordia ob impotentiam fæneratorum, quibus in terga quoque serviliter sævientibus, in Sacrum Montem plebs armata secessit ;' i. 23. Also Ovid, Fast. iii. 663-4.

Plebs vetus, et nullis etiam nunc tuta tribunis,

Fugit, et in Sacri vertice montis erat. Valerius Maximus agrees : •Regibus exactis, plebs, dissidens a patribus, juxta ripam fluminis Anienis, in colle qui" Sacer appellatur, armata consedit;' vii. 9, § 1. Appian gives the same account: δε δημός ποτε και στρατευόμενος ές τoιάνδε πριν έμπεσών ουκ έχρήσατο τοίς όπλοις παρουσιν, άλλ' ες το όρος έκεραμών το άπό τούδε κλυζόμενον ιερόν, ουδέν ουδέ τότε χειρών έργον, αλλ' αρχήν εαυτου προστάτιν απέφηνε, και εκάλεσε δημαρχίαν; Bell. Civ. 1. 1. Dio Cassius. xvii. 9, says that the secession was to kodwvóv riva; Orosius, ii. 5, names the Mons Sacer. Becker, ib. p. 254, thinks that the name of the Mons Sacer bears witness to the fact of the secession. It is certainly true that the explanation of the name given by Dionysius and others bears witness to the belief in that fact.

refusal of the Senate to agree to a measure for the relief of insolvent plebeian debtors. (238) Other authors however speak in general terms of the cruelty and oppressions of the patricians,(239) and one writer attributes it to the pressure of military service and war-taxes upon the plebeians.(240)

Thirdly, there is a material disagreement between Dionysius and Livy as to the nature of the treaty made by the Senate and the seceders. According to Dionysius, the main subject of the negotiation was a Seisachtheia, for the relief of the plebeian debtors; when this measure had been conceded, the institution of the tribunes was suggested by L. Junius Brutus as an additional guarantee ; and this afterthought was made the subject of a separate negotiation. Livy is entirely silent as to any arrangement about a remission of debts, and describes the compact as limited to the institution of tribunes ;(241) Cicero agrees with


(238) Plutarch, Cor. 5, follows Dionysius.

(239) See the passage from Sallust’s Histories, cited in note 237. In the passage from the Republic, Cicero ascribes the first secession to debt; in the fragment of the oration for Cornelius, he says that it took place 'propter nimiam dominationem potentium. Orosius likewise u es general terms. “Sequitur discessio plebis a patribus, cum, M. Valerio dictatore delectum militum agente, variis populus stimulatus injuriis, Sacrum Montem insedit armatus ;' ii. 5.

(240) Et quum populus & patribus secessisset, quod tributum et militiam toleraret, nec revocari posset ; Script. de Vir. Ill. c. 18. This seems however to be taken from the passage of Sallust's Histories.

(241) Livy says that the Senate, desirous of bringing back the seceders, Bent Menenius Agrippa to negotiate with them ; that he went to their camp on the Mons Sacer, and addressed to them the fable of the Belly and Limbs; and that by this simple reasoning, flexisse mentes hominum.' The conclusion is thus described : 'Agi deinde de concordiâ cæptum, concessumque in conditiones, ut plebi sui magistratus essent sacrosancti, quibus auxilii latio adversus consules esset; neve cui patrum capere eum magistratum liceret ;' ii. 33. Livy (as Crevier remarks) seems to understand that the debt-question was not directly settled, because the institution of tribunes was a sufficient security to the plebeians. His meaning appears to be accurately rendered by the writer de Vir. Ill. 18, who, aftur reciting the fable of Menenius, adds : Hâc fabulå populus regressus est. Creavit tamen tribunos plebis, qui libertatem suam adversum nobilitatis superbiam defenderent.'' Ruperti, however, in his note on the passage of Livy, suggests that the relief of the nexi is implied. Niebuhr, Hist. vol. i. p. 610, prefers the account of Dionysius to that of Livy, and the same view is taken by Dr. Arnold, Hist. of Rome, vol. i. p. 146, though his expressions in a former page (p. 138) seem more consistent with the other view. Beaufort, République Romaine, vol. vi. p. 285, thinks that the

Livy, and considers the tribunate as the sole result of the first secession. (242)

Fourthly, the number and names of the first tribunes are differently reported. Livy says that two tribunes, C. Sicinius and L. Albinus, were appointed, who nominated three colleagues; of these Sicinius was one, but as to the other two,


treaty was confined to the creation of tribunes, and contained no stipulation respecting debts. Coriolanus is described by Dionysius, as charging the plebeians, in a subsequent speech in the Senate, with having seceded, not on account of any real want, but for the purpose of destroying the aristocratic form of government: ug karalúowv Triv đplotorpariav jūv; vii. 22. The independence of the two parts of the treaty, and the advancement of the demand for the tribunate after the remission of debts had been granted, is insisted on by Appius Claudius, in Dion. Hal. vii. 49, 52.

(242) Niebuhr, Hist. vol. i. n. 1347, says that the account of Dionysius is 'supported by Cicero's whole view of these events, as to the necessity of violating the letter of the law,' given in Rep. ii. 34. It appears to me, however, that Cicero's meaning in this passage is exactly the opposite of that attributed to him by Niebuhr. After having described the secession of the plebs as caused by debt, he proceeds to say that the evil in question might have been remedied by some such measure as that which had been previously adopted by Solon, or as that which was subsequently adopted by the Senate when (in the year 326 B.c.) the law of nexum was abolished in consequence of the scandalous outrage of the usurer Papirius. This species of calamity was, he adds, always assuaged by some remedial measure: but on this occasion, a different course was adopted, and two tribunes of the plebs were created in order to diminish the power of the Senate: 'Quo tum consilio prætermisso, causa populo nata est, duobus tribunis plebis per seditionem creatis, ut potentia Senatus atque anctoritas minueretur ;' ii. 34. Cicero's meaning seems to be, that, instead of bargaining for a special measure on insolvent debtors, the plebs obtained a general security against the power of the Senate. The example of Solon is referred to in the speech of M. Valerius, in Dion. Hal. v. 65; above,

account of Dio Cassius, xvii. 9; and Zonaras, vii. 14-5, is that many persons seceded from the city and army, on account of the law of debt, and plundered the country; that they were mollified by the fable of Menenius, one of the ambassadors, sent to them by the Senate; and that a measure of relief to debtors was conceded. After which, fearing lest the treaty should be broken, or that they should be maltreated individually, they formed a defensive league, and elected two tribunes for their own protection. This account differs altogether from that of Livy, and it does not even agree with that of Dionysius ; for it represents the appointment of tribunes not as a matter of negotiation, but as a defensive measure adopted by the plebeians on their own authority. Eutropius appears to agree with Zonaras in representing the creation of tribunes as the independent act of the plebeian body : “Sexto decimo anno post reges exactos, seditionem populus Romæ fecit, tamquam a senatu atque consulibus premeretur. Tum et ipse sibi tribunos plebis, quasi proprios judices et defensores, creavit; per quos contra senatum et consules tutus esse posset ; i. 13. By 'seditio,' in this passage, Eutropius means 'secessio.'

p. 24. TI

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »