صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The great

worthy of attention beyond its borders. factors of civilization, Greek, Roman, Jewish, Oriental, were here brought together. Barbarian tribes made their contribution of fresh life and capacity for new developments. In short, stretching her borders about all the lands circling the Mediterranean, and compassing the more important portions of three continents, Rome took up into herself the most valuable products of past ages, and the most fruitful germs of those that were to come. No wonder that she appeared destined, in her unrivalled possession of the world, to perpetual dominion; and that even among the persecuted Christians the idea found entrance, that when Rome fell the end of all things would immediately follow.l

The building-up of an empire by Rome was, in an emphatic sense, a work of unification. She brought together the dissevered. She established peaceful communication where no interchange had existed except that of war and plunder. The entire plan of Roman conquest and polity encouraged intercommunication. The idea which Augustus had in mind when he set up a golden milestone in the Forum was industriously pursued. From the capital a net-work of highways was extended, designed to bring the most distant provinces into intimate connection with the great centre. These Roman roads are justly celebrated. Their very remains are calculated, above almost any thing else, to fill the mind with reverence for the greatness of Rome. Five main lines led out from the imperial city. Maps giving directions, distances, and stopping-places, ministered greatly to the convenience of the traveller. Probably Europe at the beginning of this century enjoyed no better means of communication by land than were provided in the major part of the Roman Empire. It may be doubted, also, whether, prior to the building of railways, travel has ever borne a greater ratio to population than it did under the Roman Cæsars.1 The demands of government kept officials moving to and fro. Enlarged opportunities of trade brought men out of their isolation. An intense curiosity naturally stimulated the residents of the provinces to visit the renowned seat of empire. Already in the time of Cicero we find Rome described as a community assembled from out of the nations, civitas ex nationum conventu constituta.? Between Augustus and Marcus Aurelius the population of the city averaged above a million, possibly at times reached a maximum of two millions. On the other hand, curiosity, personal interests, and governmental policy sent great numbers from Rome and Italy to the provinces. Tourists poured into Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt. Students flocked to the renowned seats of culture, especially Athens and Alexandria. Sophists and rhetoricians were commonly itinerants. Armies went forth and served in remote districts as agents of Romanizing influences.

1 “We know," says Tertullian," that a mighty shock impending over the whole earth - in fact, the very end of all things, threatening dreadful woes - is only retarded by the conti ied existence of the Roma Empire.” (Apologeticus, xxxii.; compare ad Scapulam, ii.) Lactantius writes : "The subject itself declares that the fall and ruin of the world will shortly take place; except that while the city of Rome remains, it appears that nothing of this kind is to be feared. But when the capital of the whole world shall have fallen, who can doubt that the end has now arrived to the affairs of men and the whole world ?" (Div. Inst., vii. 25.)

1 The subject is amply treated in all its bearings by Friedlaender. It would appear, from a number of instances which he cites, that the excellent highways afforded means of a quite rapid transit. Cæsar, for example, is said to have travelled seven hundred and ninety-six miles inside of eight days. (Sittengeschichte Roms, vol. ii. p. 17.)

3 De Petitione Consulatus, xiv.

The mere fact of this interchange was enough to greatly weaken tribal and national feeling, and to make men conscious of their relation to the vast body of the race within the Empire. It was all in the direction of the fusion of the individual in the universal. But to this means others were added by the Roman administration. The colony was made to perform an important part. “In her numerous colonies," says Uhlhorn, “Rome stretched herself out into the provinces ; they were a section of Rome in the midst of Spain, Gaul, or Greece. The colonists took with them their citizenship and their Roman jurisprudence. Often strangers were received into the colony; and, even when they formed a separate community in its neighborhood, they were placed still under the constant influence of the Roman spirit.”1 Among the places celebrated in New-Testament history, Philippi, Troas, and Antioch in Pisidia may serve as examples of the colony.

Similar in design to the planting of colonies was the extension of privileges to communities and individuals

[ocr errors]

1 Kampf des Christenthums, Book I., chap. i. An equally apt description is that given by Cony beare and Howson. “The character. istic of a colonia was, that it was a miniature resemblance of Rome. ... The colonists went out with all the pride of Roman citizens, to represent and reproduce the city in the midst of an alien population. Their names were still enrolled in one of the Roman tribes. Every traveller who passed through a colonia saw there the insignia of Rome. He heard the Latin language, and was amenable, in the strictest sense, to the Roman law.(Life and Epistles of St. Paul, vol. i., chap. 1 The decree extending citizenship to the subjects of the Empire generally was issued under Caracalla. His motive is said to have been quite other than an enlightened liberality. (Dio CASSIUS, lxxvii. 9.)

in the provinces. The good-will of distinguished places was solicited or confirmed by constituting them free cities. Athens, Thessalonica, Tarsus, and the Syrian Antioch held, among others, this rank, and enjoyed in virtue of it certain rights of local selfgovernment. The crowning right, that of citizenship, was much extended after the time of Julius Cæsar. Under his rule it was made to reach and even to cross the extreme limits of Italy, being conferred upon those dwelling beyond the Po, and also upon many communities in Transalpine Gaul and in Spain. Succeeding emperors enlarged the circle of enfranchisement, until at length, in the early part of the third century, the outside provinces stood on an equality with Italy in this respect. Citizenship carried with it exemption from scourging, the right to appeal to the emperor, the right of suffrage, and eligibility to office.

Roman jurisprudence likewise performed an important function in the great unifying process. To be sure, Roman law was primarily designed for Roman citizens. Its application therefore was not co-extensive with the Empire till the right of citizenship became general. But even before this era, it shaped, more or less, the administration of justice in all the provinces. Thus there was a movement toward an all-embracing system of jurisprudence, a system which in many points showed an admirable appreciation of the relations of man to man. Here, evidently, was an efficacious means of unity and homogeneity.

Like the framework of a building, Roman law extended through the structure of Roman society.

Something like an index to the progress made in breaking down national barriers may be seen by comparing the language of Aristotle with that of Marcus Aurelius. According to the testimony of Plutarch, Aristotle advised Alexander the Great, on the eve of his expedition into Asia, “to bear himself as a prince among the Greeks, his own people, but as a master among the barbarians; to treat the one as friends and kinsmen, the others as animals and chattels."

“My nature," says Marcus Aurelius, “is rational and social; and my city and country, so far as I am Antoninus, is Rome, but so far as I am a man it is the world.”! The philosophic Emperor here expresses the Stoic idea of an universal citizenship. The requisite conditions for the development of that idea were first supplied by the conquests of Alexander, and the Roman Empire provided for its further growth and continued assertion. To be sure, the universal citizenship of the Stoic was very much of an abstraction. As contrasted with the universal brotherhood of Christianity, it was, practically, like the shadow compared with the substance. In other words, Stoicism had little inspiration or power for the realization of its ideal. Still, the existence of the ideal is a clear token of a relative disappearance of national boundaries, and the exaltation of the idea of a common humanity. From our stand-point it is difficult to realize the importance of this work of disintegration, this breaking-down of national barriers. A

1 Meditations, vi. 44.

« السابقةمتابعة »