Lesetetexte zur Historik-Konzeption bei Ronald Syme.

 

Abb. entnommen aus: R. Syme, Danubian Papers, Bukarest 1971, Eingangsphoto des Bandes.

 Ronald Syme (1903 - 1989).

Zu Biographie und wissenschaftlichem Profil:

Karl Christ, Neue Profile der Alten Geschichte, Darmstadt 1990, S. 188 ff.

Werner Dahlheim, Geschichte als aristokratische Gelehrsamkeit und literarische Kunst, Herausgeber-Nachwort zu: Ronald Syme, Die römische Revolution (Neuausgabe der 1957 erstmalig erschienenen deutschen Übersetzung der 1939 erstpublizierten 'Roman Revolution', dt. Übersetzer: F. W. Eschweiler, H. G. Degen und T. Wedemeyer), München 1992, S. 637 -653.

Text I markiert die verschiedenartigen Momente, die sich in Symes historischer Arbeit vereinigen: eine für den Philologen und Althistoriker stilistisch-dranaturgisch ebenso wie inhaltlich-wissenschaftlich prägende Wirkung der antiken Historiker, insbesondere des Tacitus, ferner der von Syme beherrschte prosopographisch-epigraphische Forschungsstand seiner Zeit und schließlich auch Anstösse der Zeitgeschichte, die ein besonderes Interesse für die Zeit der entstehenden römischen Kaiserherrschaft motivieren - und eine innere Distanz zu deren zentralen Akteuren, insbesondere Augustus ("Es ist [scil für einen Historiker]... nicht nötig, politischen Erfolg zu preisen oder die Männer zu idealisieren, die durch einen Bürgerkrieg zu Reichtum und Ehre gelangen").

Text II verdeutlicht - mehr noch als die thematisch entsprechenden Passagen des knapp 40 Jahr älteren Werks 'The Roman Revolution' - den von Syme auch später beibehaltenen und ausgebauten aristokratiegeschichtlichen Ansatz der Deutung der frühen Prinzipats-Kaiserzeit. Dieser Ansatz ergibt sich zwar auch aus literarischen Quellen wie Tacitus, aber weit mehr noch aus dem epigraphischen Material, das eine Prosopographie und eine Strukturgeschichte der römischen Oberschicht und ihres Wandels in caesarisch-augusteischer Zeit schon vor Symes 'Roman Revolution' wissenschaftlich provoziert hat (> Friedrich Münzer).

Text III reflektiert nicht nur in einem epochenübergreifenden - und deswegen im Ansatz universalhistorischen - Vergleich die Bedeutung 'neuer kolonialer Eliten' für den Bestand von 'Imperien' (des Römischen Reiches, des Britischen und des Spanischen Kolonialreichs), sondern spiegelt auch ein wenig Symes Deutung des eigenen Lebenslaufs, der ihn von wissenschaftlichen Anfängen in Neuseeland zu einer jahrzehntelangen, prominenten und hochgeehrten Tätigkeit in das englische Gelehrtenzentrum Oxford führte.

 

I. Vorwort und Inhaltsverzeichnis zu 'Die Römische Revolution' (The Roman Revolution, Oxford 1939), ins Deutsche übersetzt von Friedrich Wilhelm Eschweiler, Hans Georg Degen und Tilo Wedemeyer, München, Zürich 1992.

1. Vorwort zur ersten Auflage von 1939.

Gegenstand dieses Buches ist die Umwandlung von Staat und Gesellschaft in Rom zwischen 60 v. Chr. und 14 n. Chr. Es ist aufgebaut um eine zentrale Darstellung, die den Aufstieg von Augustus zur Macht sowie die Errichtung seiner Herrschaft schildert und die Jahre zwischen 44 und 23 v. Chr. umfaßt. Diese Epoche wurde Zeuge einer gewaltsamen Übertragung von Macht und Eigentum; der Principat des Augustus sollte als Konsolidierung eines revolutionären Prozesses angesehen werden. Der Schwerpunkt wird allerdings nicht auf die Persönlichkeit und die Taten von Augustus gelegt, sondern auf seine Anhänger und Parteigänger. Die Zusammensetzung der Oligarchie der Regierung tritt deshalb als das beherrschende Thema der politischen Geschichte in Erscheinung, als das Verbindungsglied zwischen Republik und Kaiserreich: sie ist etwas Reales und Greifbares, ganz gleich wie der Name oder die Tlieorie der Verfassung lauten.

Daher wurde der Raum (und die Bedeutung), der den Biographien von Pompeius, Caesar und Augustus, der Kriegsführung, den Provinzangelegenheiten und der Verfassungsgeschichte beigemessen wurde, stark eingeschränkt. Statt dessen kommen die römischen Adelshäuser und die Hauptverbündeten der verschiedenen politischen Führer zur Geltung. Die Methode muß selektiv sein: Erschöpfende Einzelheiten können nicht über jede Familie oder jede Einzelpersönlichkeit angegeben werden. Dennoch sprengt der Gegenstand fast den Rahmen der Darstellung. Der Leser, der vor einer engen Verkettung von Eigennamen zurückschreckt, muß bestimmte Passagen schleunig übergehen, so die Kapitel V und VI, die die Zusammensetzung der caesarianischen Partei in Form eines langen Exkurses analysieren.

Genau wie der Gegenstand der Untersuchung, so bedürfen auch ihr Ton und ihre Behandlungsweise der Erklärung. Bei der Schilderung der zentralen Epoche der römischen Geschichte war es mir unmöglich, mich dem Einfluß der Historiker Sallust, Pollio und Tacitus zu entziehen, die allesamt von republikanischer Gesinnung waren. Daher rührt die bewußt kritische Einstellung gegenüber Augustus. Wenn dagegen Caesar und Antonius eher nachsichtig behandelt werden, so kann der Grund dafür im Wesen und in den Anschauungen des Historikers Pollio gesehen werden - der zwar ein Republikaner, aber Parteigänger von Caesar und Antonius war. Dies erklärt auch, was über Cicero und Livius gesagt wird. Dennoch muß der Principat letztendlich anerkannt werden; denn er verhindert Bürgerkriege und schützt die nicht-politischen Klassen. Freiheit oder stabile Regierung: das war die Frage, mit der sich die Römer konfrontiert sahen, und ich habe sie genau auf deren Weise zu beantworten versucht (Kapitel XXXIII, Pax et Princeps).

Diese Absicht brachte einen pessimistischen und unversöhnlichen Ton mit sich und führte zu der fast vollständigen Ausklammerung von edleren Gefühlen und rein persönlichen Tugenden. Dynamis und Tyche sind die beherrschenden Gottheiten. Der Stil ist entsprechend direkt und sogar abrupt und vermeidet Metaphern und Abstraktionen. Es ist gewiß an der Zeit, diesen Zeitraum einmal wieder aus 'traditioneller' und konventioneller Sicht zu betrachten. Vieles, was in letzter Zeit über Augustus geschrieben wurde - sei es einfallsreich oder erbaulich -, ist schlichtweg panegyrisch. Es ist jedoch nicht notwendig, politischen Erfolg zu preisen oder die Männer zu idealisieren, die durch einen Bürgerkrieg zu Reichtum und Ehre gelangen.

Die Geschichte dieser Epoche ist höchst kontrovers, die wissenschaftliche Literatur von überwältigendem Umfang. Im Interesse von Kürze und Klarheit war ich gezwungen, eine kühne Entscheidung zu treffen: soviele antike Zeugnisse wie möglich zu zitieren, nur selten auf moderne Autoritäten zu verweisen und kontroverse Standpunkte unverhüllt darzulegen - ohne vorsichtige Umschreibungen und ohne Zuhilfenahme einer ausgefeilten Argumentation. Zudem deckt die Bibliographie am Ende dieses Buches nicht den gesamten Themenbereich ab: Aus praktischen Gründen enthält sie lediglich die Bücher und Aufsätze, die in den Anmerkungen Erwähnung finden.

Es wird sogleich ersichtlich, wie viel die hier dargelegte Auffassung vom Wesen der römischen Politik dem herausragenden und wegweisenden Beispiel Münzers verdankt: Ohne sein Werk über die römischen Adelsfamilien der Republik wäre dieses Buch schwerlich entstanden. Im einzelnen schulde ich den zahlreichen prosopographischen Untersuchungen von Münzer, Groag und Stein Dank. Besondere Erwähnung müssen auch Tarns Schriften über Antonius und Kleopatra finden (von denen ich viel gelernt habe, auch wenn ich gezwungen war, in einem wesentlichen Punkt anderer Meinung zu sein) sowie Anton von Premersteins postum erschienenes Buch 'Vom Werden und Wesen des Prinzipats.' Meine Einschätzung vom Treueid des Jahres 32 v. Chr. und von der Stellung des Princeps als Parteiführer verdankt diesem erhellenden Werk viel, leitet sich aber nicht gänzlich davon ab. In einer früheren Form und Konzeption war sie Gegenstand von Vorlesungen, die im Sommer 1937 in Oxford gehalten wurden.

Der Index ist im wesentlichen prosopographisch und umfaßt die Fußnoten ebenso wie den Text. Wird er in Verbindung mit der Liste der Konsuln und den sieben genealogischen Tafeln benutzt, so werden bisweilen Tatsachen oder Verbindungen deutlich, die im Text nicht explizit genannt sind. Auf die eine oder andere Weise finden die meisten Konsuln und Statthalter der Militärprovinzen Eingang in die Darstellung. Die Vielzahl von Persönlichkeiten, die lediglich knapp erwähnt werden, bringt besondere Schwierigkeiten mit sich. Von vielen ist lediglich der Name bekannt, und Einzelheiten hinsichtlich ihrer Person fehlen; ihre Bedeutung ließ sich aus ihrer Familie, ihrer NomenWatur oder ihrem Rang schließen; die meisten von ihnen werden niemandem außer einem hartgesottenen Prosopographen vertraut sein. Zugunsten der Klarheit werden oft herkömmliche Benennungen und Titel beigefügt; und der Wiederholung von relevanten Zeugnissen wird manchmal der Vorzug vor einem komplizierten System von Querverweisen eingeraumt.

Für ihre Hilfe beim Lesen der Druckfahnen und für Verbesserungen von Ausdruck und Inhalt bin ich folgenden Freunden zutiefst verpflichtet: E. B. Birley, Prof. A. Degrassi, M. Grant, C. G. Hardie, A. H. M. Jones, R. Meiggs, Prof. F. Münzer, A. D. Peck und Frau M. V. Taylor - ganz zu schweigen vom Eifer und der Geduld der Lektoren von Clarendon Press.

Darüber hinaus freue ich mich, an dieser Stelle die Gelegenheit ergreifen zu können, die fortwährende Ermunterung und großzügige Hilfe anzuerkennen, die mir Herr Last, Camden Professor für Alte Geschichte an der Universität Oxford zuteil werden ließ - und das gerade deshalb, weil sich in diesem Band vieles findet, das seinen Widerspruch hervorrufen wird. Die Unzulänglichkeiten dieses Buches sind offenkundig. Es ist nicht in aller Stille verfaßt worden und sollte eigentlich einige Jahre zurückgehalten und dann neu geschrieben werden. Ich bin jedoch der festen Überzeugung, daß das Thema von einiger Bedeutung ist. Falls das Buch heilsame Kritik hervorruft - um so besser.

Oxford, den 1. Juni 1939 R.S.

2. Inhalt.

Vorwort zur Neuausgabe (1992).
Abkürzungsverzeichnis.
Vorwort zur ersten Auflage von 1939.
1. Augustus und die Geschichte.
II. Die römische Oligarchie.
III. Die Herrschaft des Pompeius.
IV. Cäsar der Diktator.
V. Die Partei Cäsars.
VI. Cäsars neue Senatoren.
VII. Der Konsul Antonins.
VITI. Cäsars Erbe.
IX. Der erste Marsch auf Rom.
X. Der ältere Staatsmann.
XI. Politische Schlagworte.
XII. Der Senat gegen Antonius.
XIII. Der zweite Marsch auf Rom.
XIV. Die Proskriptionen.
XV. Philippi und Perusia.
XVI. Die Vorherrschaft des Antonius.
XVII. Der Aufstieg des Octavianus.
XVI II. Rom unter den Triumvirn.
XIX. Antonius im Osten.
XX. Tota Italia.
XXI. Dux.
XXII. Prinzeps.
XXIII. Krise in Partei und Staat.
XXIV. Die Partei des Augustus.
XXV. Das Wirken der Protektion.
XXVI. Die Regierung.
XXVII. Das Kabinett.
XXVIII. Die Erbnachfolge.
XXIX. Das nationale Programm.
XXX. Die Organisierung der Meinung.
XXXI. Die Opposition.
XXXII. Das Schicksal der Nobiles.
XXXIII. Pax et Princeps.
Anmerkungen zu Kapitel I.-XXXIII 491
Anhang:
Die Konsuln von 80 v. Chr. - 14 n.Chr.
Stammtafeln.
Nachwort von
Werner Dahlheim: Ronald Syme. Geschichte als aristokratische Gelehrsamkeit und
literarische Kunst.
Literaturverzeichnis.
Register.

 II. Auszug aus: The Augustan Aristocracy, Oxford 1986, S. 1 - 14 (Kap. 1).

The Nobilitas.

The heir of Caesar celebrated his triumph in August of 29, rival in fame to Alexander as a world conqueror and also parading as the new Romulus. The last in the sequence of the monarchic faction-leaders terminated an epoch and confirmed autocratic government.

Senators and knights, the twin components of the propertied class, saw an end at last to disruption and turmoil. In 91 the allied peoples of Italia had seceded. On the Bellum Italicum, and blending with it, followed civil strife: in all a ten years war. After Sulla the Dictator intervened three decades of precarious peace, broken when the proconsul of Gaul crossed the Rubicon, to issue in twenty years of violence or despotic rule.

From the young Caesar the two orders now expected security and recognition, change abated, the plebs and the armies curbed. For the nobiles (the consular families) the coming of the monarchy was the latest in a sequence of defeats. Bruised and diminished, though power lapsed, they might still hope to regain some of the resources of social prestige.

In the first place, as ancestry and 'dignitas' demanded, access to a consulship - and not submerged or extruded as recently by a mass of novi homines. Next, the major priesthoods, in the early time their monopoly and still tending to become hereditary in certain genres. Third, governor- ships abroad, for pride and for profit even if not any more to refresh the laurels won by ancestors.

From 31 Imperator Caesar held the consulate each year for the full twelve months. The Triumvirate had obtruded numerous suffecti as many as six in 33; and in 30 there were still three of them. For 29, only one. That was a promising sign. The next year more than confirmed.

The ruler handed over the twelve fasces to his colleague M. Vipsanius Agrippa. (1) The practice of the Republic thus returned: rotation month by month of the 'insignia imperii'. Normal government (it follows) was visibly heralded on February 1st of the year 28. (2) For certain civilian tasks the two consuls assumed censorial powers; and a single comprehensive decree annulled arbitrary or illegal enactments of the Triumvirs. In this fashion the sixth consulship of Imperator Caesar established the new dispensation. (3)

On January 13th of 27 the Senate assembled to hear a proclamation. Caesar's heir resigned all his powers, transferring sovereignty where it belonged to Senate and People. Senators adjured him not to abandon the res publica' which he had saved and preserved.(4) The Imperator was persuaded to accept a special mandate, namely the arduous charge of the principal military zones in the Roman dominion west and east, to he held for a period of ten years. Three days later, on the motion of a senior consular, the high assembly voted various honours and conferred the name 'Augustus'.

Caesar Augustus conceded that he had acquired supremacy, 'potitus rerum omnium' but it was through a general consensus. (5 )The new arrangement renounced less than instant gratitude assumed or the superficial fancied. Mere despotism was a crude and precarious form of government, repugnant to the traditions of a nation that had conquered the world through obedience to 'liberty and the laws'. Legalized authority enabled the ruler to circumvent rivalry, control the channels of patronagc, and ultimately ensure a smooth transmission of the power. Against any questioning, Caesar would hardly require anxious thought or help from lawyers. (6) 'Potentia' now assumed the respectable name of 'auctoritas.

The vast resources of the Princeps were in no way impaired: money and soldiers, the plebs of Rome, personal allegiance confirmed by the oath sworn in 32 by 'Tota Italia' and extended to take in cities and tribes, kings and princes and tetrarchs. 'Divi filius' was already worshipped as a king and a god in the eastern lands. (7)

The new form of government avowed its origin in the 'extraordinaria imperia' voted to the dynasts in the closing epoch of the Republic; and the autocratic rule of the Triumvirs was based upon a law of the Roman People. The Princeps duly went on to exploit the 'res publica', encroaching on the functions of Senate, of magistrates, of laws.

Nobiles had spoken of the 'res publica' as their own property.(8) It suited their predominance admirably. It furnished a code of rules to conserve oligarchic equality through leges annales which regulated competition and thwarted youthful aspirations. It divided authority in the state and checked the rise of powerful individuals. Finally, the 'res publica' was a means to cajole and deceive through open elections, since the 'libertas populi Romani' tended to choose under guidance the known names. (9 )To endure, the system depended on consent or docility and further on cohesion, on restraint and public spirit in the governing class.

For the nohilitas as for the ruler, signal advantages at once became manifest. During the evil years the Senate had swollen to a total of over a thousand, admitting common soldiers, sons of freedmen, even foreigners. In 28 Caesar and Agrippa carried out a purge of the high assembly. They induced nearly two hundred undesirables to depart persons falling short of the fortune requisite to maintain their station or deficient in loyalty and protection.

Defect of birth was no bar. Some of the great adventurers had perished, such as Ventidius and Canidius; and the magnate from Punic Gades, Cornelius Balbus, was no longer among the living. In the previous year his nephew had been accorded the rank of ex-consul. (10)

Triumviral Rome had seen partisans grasping the fasces far below the age of forty-two - and some scandalous, such as Agrippa, close coeval to Caesar's heir. Peace and order imported mitigation: the Republican norm but for novi hornines. The nohiles benefit from one of the gains of the Revolution. They get an advantage of ten years. As a necessary consequence, entry to the Senate by the quaestorship obtains at twenty-five instead of thirty. Missing direct record in the pages ofhistory, these provisions may be assigned to the year of the census. (11)

As tradition ordained, provinces were disposed by lot or arrangement. An innovation of the year 52, devised with a political intent all too clear, was soon brought back into service.' (12) It prescribed an interval of five years for praetors and consuls after the urban magistracy. Of the provinces, ex-consuls took Asia and Africa, as recently. Like Africa, Macedonia and Illyricum had garrisons of legions, but the contrast was visible and painful against the portion of Caesar: Spain, Gaul, and Syria.

Power receding, aristocrats looked to priesthoods for 'dignitas' and social eminence. The recent years witnessed a double phenomenon. While alien superstitions were rampant, ancient cults and ceremonies revived. (13) In January of 29 the Senate decreed that the Gates of War should be closed, to demonstrate warfare ceasing by land and sea; and the name of the victor was inscribed in the hymn of the Salii. The youthful priests of Mars had not been beard of for a long time, nor had the Fetiales, resurrected three years previously to declare a just war on the Queen of Egypt. (14)

It was from total obscurity that the Sodales Titii now emerged. The bare name was known to the learned Varro, who opined that they might have something to do with augury. (15 ) Nothing further is vouchsafed, except their antiquity. Romulus created the sodality, or better, the Sabine Titus Tatius. (16)

More important functions were designed for the fraternity of the Arvales, whose origin is explicit. Acca Larentia, the foster mother of Romulus, had twelve sons. When one of them died, Romulus was enlisted to complete the number. (17 ) Of both fraternities only Varro had shown awareness, and no annalist named a member. (18)

Imperator Caesar was advertising an affinity to Romulus in a variety of fashions. He wanted to take the name, so it is alleged. (19) Safer counsels prevailed. The Founder had a dubious repute, adored by plebs and army, but on one report an autocrat killed by senators. It was too close to Divus Julius whose temple was consecrated in 29, a few days after the triumph. With the old poet's 'augusto augurio', the new device and name evoked the birth of the city. (20)

The primeval aristocracy was the patriciate, long in decline but not to be neglected as 'decus ac robur' in a renascent Republic. Patrician themselves, both Sulla and Caesar showed them favour. New gentes were added in 29. Certain sacerdotal functions were confined to patricians, needed also to keep up a proportion in the major colleges.

Pontiffs, augurs, quindecimviri sacris faciundis, septemviri epulonum, these constituted the 'quattuor amplissima sacerdotia'. (21) For nobiles they were accessible even in extreme youth, well before the senatorial age. The colleges now received a marked augmentation, rising above twenty members for the first three. No senator could hold more than one. Many nohiles might thus aspire, even without especial claims on Caesar and the friends of Caesar. (22) By the same token they shared privilege with notable consulars among the novi homines - and Caesar Augustus belonged, supernumerary, to each college and fraternity (not excepting the inferior Titii and Feriales).

In official precedence the Arvales of necessity took rank behind the 'quattuor amplissima'. Being twelve in number, they were highly select. The new Romulus was eager to promote and invest with prestige the invention of one of his antiquarian counsellors. (23 ) Messalla the Augur, still extant in 29, had recently been writing on congenial topics. (24 )The first protocols of the Brethren are meagre. The earliest fragment (of 21/20) carries seven names, all but one consular. (25) It suitably exhibits the veteran Domitius Calvinus, the survivor of many campaigns, and the illustrious Messalla Corvinus. On the next document (in May of AD 14) occur among six names Piso the Pontifex, Lentulus the Augur, Paullus Fabius Maximus. (26)

Caesar Augustus put the state religion to various employ. What is called the Roman constitution was not a system of written ordinances. The 'res publica' had a dual nature (institutions and persons) and it functioned largely through precedent and religious prescriptions. That is, 'mos maiorum' and the 'auspicia' - each subject to manipulation on advice from senior statesmen. (27)
Augurs were valued and commended. (28) They proved useful for obstruction. (29) Excelling in 'auctoritas', the Princeps did not need their aid, and he possessed other devices. The quindecimviri, however, were custodians of the Sibylline oracles (soon to be purged and revised). Those experts might come in handy to interpret a text, improve a ritual, or change the date of a festival.

The nobilitas had ceremonies of its own, notably the pomp of funerals with the images of ancestors high on show. They were now brigaded for public pageantry. Wearing their vestments and emblems the priests went on parade. They offered vows and sacrifices, inaugurated the monuments of war and peace, advertised the prince and the dynasty.

Through the ages aristocrats are shown amicably disposed towards ritual and ceremony. Rome offered few occasions for ostentation of attire. Even the military had to submit. The 'gens togata' which conquered an empire forbade the wearing of uniforms or decorations in the city.

To belong to an exclusive club confers value on a life devoid oft alent or denied public recognition; and it is pure delight when membership brings arcane knowledge. After the end of the first dynasty the Arvak's turned into a congregation of that kind, mediocrity no longer protected by birth and ancestors. (30)

Sacerdotal antiquities were the suitable predilection of patricians, to he surmised for Julius Caesar in his candidature for the office of ponzifex maximus, and actively displayed in the political scene by the head of the gens Claudia, Ap. Pulcher. (31) In adversity those studies afforded refuge and comfort. The jurist Ser. Sulpicius Rufus imparted instruction in 'ius pontificium': (32) and old Messalla occupied the leisure of the Triumviral years with the treatise De auspiciis. (33)

Erudition and competition were stimulated to make useful discoveries. Janus attracted (earlier closings might be in controversy), the Arvales, and so on. (34) Inadvertent or popular writers were liable to miss some information about early Rome. (35)

There were limits to research, so it appears, and even to invention. No scholar explained Dea Dia, who was worshipped by the Brethren in the month of May, or produccd a past arvalis (even not authentic). (36) On the other hand, ancient deities might suffer affront without imputation of sacrilege. To enlarge his mansion, the pontifex Domitius Calvinus demolished the shrine of the unimpeachable Mutunus Tutunus. (37)

The benefits that accrued to the aristocracy were clouded with distrust and suspicion. Caesar Augustus, abolishing proconsuls in Gaul, Spain, and Syria, took those regions as his 'provincia'. Precedents availed from the closing epoch of the Republic. In 59 Julius Caesar acquired both the Gauls together with Illyricum, to be held for a quinquennium. In the next year a Lex Clodia made provision for the consuls Piso and Gabinius: Macedonia and Syria, likewise for an extended tcnure.(38 )Then in 55 another law allocated the Spains to Pompeius, Syria to Crassus, with a prolongation for the prqconsul of Gaul.

In 54 a vast portion of the imperial dominion had thus been segregated and removed from control by Senate and People. It was the habit of Cato to speak against 'extraordinariae potestates'. (39) They spelled ruin for the Republic. He was later to earn credit for prescience. (40)

Such 'imperia' were normally proconsular. Nothing prevented a consul from taking up his command before the end of his year. Caesar Augustus duly set out in the garb of war, making for Gaul in the summer of 27. At the same time, the Comitia elected him consul for the next year.
Some senators may have felt that they had been taken in several months previously. It was no consolation that precedents existed for fraud and flexibility. His consulship expiring, Pompeius refrained from going to Spain. A Lex Cornelia of Sulla the Dictator forbade a governor to wage war beyond the borders of his province. That he would never go there but take up his abode in the suburban vicinity had not been contemplated. Against which, no sign of protest, no prosecutor.
Magnus continued, 'cum imperio'. It was 'rei publicac causa' . (41) And Magnus was able to get elected consul for the third time in 52 without giving up the Spains and surrendering seven legions.

There was also Egypt. Pompeius and the dynasts in the sequel refused to annex the kingdom. They wished to keep the rich land intact, preserved from the avid intrusion of senators or bankers. Caesar Augustus ended the protectorate, ruling as a monarch in the place of the Ptolemies. The first of the viceroys, Cornelius Gallus (who had led the army of invasion from Cyrenaica), came to grief through ambition and imprudence or from Caesar's need to discard an exorbitant partisan. Loyal men followed. Aelius Gallus was allowed to make an expedition across the Red Sea, in the direction of Arabia Felix; and P. Petronius marched a long way to the south into Ethiopia, as far as Napata, but not to Meroe. (42)

Senators tediously pent up in Italy envied the opportunities so richly enjoyed by the friends of Marcus Antonius. The Triumviral years enhanced the appeal of the remote or exotic: far lands or Arcadia and the Isles of the Blest, as well as Rome of the Kings. The new dispensation prevented any senator from visiting the land of Nile even as a tourist, 'cognoscendae antiquitatis'.

Asia allured, but it fell to few. Achaia or Sicily carried no compensation. Those petty and civilian provinces merely made visible and solid the inferiority of a proconsul in the face of the equestrian viceroy'. Nor did a praetorian province attract a nohilis - and the five-year interval precluded, should he desire to be consul 'suo anno' or not long after.

For acquiring military renown (often easy under the Republic) Macedonia held out some prospect, left like Africa and Illyricum in the sphere of the Senate. In the past a 'provincia maxime triumphalis', Macedonia had recently been the scene of advantageous warfare, and the savage peoples of Thrace were a constant nuisance. Illyricum covered the north-eastern frontier of Italy, the Cisalpina being no longer a province. Enlarged, though not much, by campaigns in 35 and 34, Illyricum confronted Pannonians not yet subdued and recalcitrant Dalmatians of the interior beyond the Dinaric Alps. As concerned Africa, Juba the prince of Mauretania retained parts ofhis Numidian kingdom, affording protection against the nomads conveniently subsumed under the Gaetulian name.

For Caesar's mandate, the pretext was regions requiring garrisons or defence.(43 ) The three military provinces retained by proconsuls implied a specious yet honourable explanation that might have been adduced. They stood closest to Italy. Carthage and Macedon evoked the fears and memories of past history, whereas from Illyricum ran the route of invasion from Emona across the Julian Alps to Aquileia, a preoccupation on the eve of the war with Marcus Antonius.

Triumphs had recently been celebrated, from Africa by Autronius Paetus, from Macedonia by Licinius Crassus, from Gaul by Messalla Corvinus. The latest was Sex. Appuleius from Spain, in January of 26. (44) It might prove to be the last. Prospects were not promising. The army was now being reduced to a total force of twenty-six legions. Not more than five or six were conceded to the three proconsuls. (45)

To men who reflected on recent transactions, destiny ordained that total dominion should come to the last of the dynasts. It had to happen.

The nobilitas forfeited liberty and power. They had also to forgo some of the display and pageantry.

Rome of the Triumvirs witnessed lively competition between active partisans: triumphs, temples repaired, or new edifices for pleasure or public utility. (46) Conspicuous among them were nobiles like Domitius Calvinus who rebuilt the Regia, Marcius Philippus a shrine of Hercules. In the sequel the next constructions to commemorate a senator bore the names of novi homines: the amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus, completed in 29, and the theatre of Cornelius Balbus, in 13. (47)

At Rome the aristocracy demanded deference, and it was not denied, but their clientelae were lapsing to the patronus oft he plebs, the dispenser of games and largesse. Abroad, Caesar anxiously watched any attempt to attach the soldiers. Towns and whole territories, kings, tetrarchs, and chieftains had once owed allegiance to the names of ancient power. Those traditions and habits were curbed by the cult of the ruler. After a time cities in the Greek lands cease to honour proconsuls with the title of 'saviour and benefactor'. (48)

Proconsuls now receive a stipend in lieu of free scope for integrity or for rapine. There was a further restriction: no senator permitted to visit a province (Sicily only excepted) save by leave of the Princeps. (49)

Something worse loomed ahead. Revival in religion was not confined to antiquarian innovation or fantasy. During the years of tribulation, disturbance and fear engendered feelings of guilt, and the pride of the nation was humiliated. When failure is ascribed to moral transgression and the decline of faith, a welcome path of redemption offers. A clamour arose for reform, at first spontaneous, then encouraged and directed. A measure was passed or at least promulgated in 28 .(50) The full programme had to wait for a decade. Laws were then enacted to restrain licence, to protect marriage and the family - and adultery became a crime with penalties for men as well as women. That was a departure from the Roman tradition, most distasteful to the aristocracy.

Legislation to regulate the commerce of the sexes is not easy to enforce - or easy to assess by results. (51) There were techniques of evasion, and divorce did not abate, with signal examples among the highest in the land. Further, informers and prosecutions; and the ruler might interpret immoral conduct so as to support or cover charges of treason.

By contrast, luxury is a visible phenomenon. Sumptuary laws were an old story at Rome, held undesirable as well as ineffeetual. (52) After the War of Actium conspicuous expenditure spread and flourished for a century. (53)

Society in the aftermath of war and revolution presents unlovely features. An age of prosperity opened, much money came into circulation (the disbursement of Egyptian treasure contributing), the price of land rose rapidly. Those who benefited from the Proscriptions to acquire estates and mansions cheaply went on in confidence. Alert and rapacious partisans of the dynasts had amassed great fortunes. Hence rancour and envy in others of the upper order, or an intermittent affectation of antique parsimony.

History registers sporadically the opulence of novi homines such as Tarius Rufus or Marcus Lollius. (54) Less was said about the blameless aristocrats who had seen the better cause in time. Along with others not so percipient they took subsidy from Caesar. It is a pleasing notion that birth and breeding are largely indifferent to money and profit. (55)

If an aristocracy cannot retain military prowess and 'bonac artes', it risks becoming a plutocracy with a past. (56) Rebuking 'luxuria atque avaritia' in the governing class, Cato denounced those who devoted much care to houses and villas and paintings, less to the commonwealth.(57) In Augustan Rome the reign of wealth finds brief and pungent expression in a sociological discourse delivered to a poet by the god Janus:

in pretio pretium nunc est. dat census honores
census amicitias. pauper ubique iacet. (58)

Other dangers subsist. On one definition aristocracies run through three periods. Beginning in superiority they pass to privilege and decline into vanity. (59) Rome was familiar with contrasted types of deleterious nohlemen, the empty aud pretentious, the stupid and heavy. Palmary specimens of 'vani' and 'stolidi' among the patrician Manhi and Lentuli afford instruction and derision. (60)

Protection of weaker members was a constant preoccupation, not now to diminish through a strong infusion of that 'industria et innocentia' so eloquently commended by publicists and accepted by historians. New senators conformed to normal habits of pomp and luxury, while the ancient houses spent their substance for ostentation or went into sullen retreat.

Ancestry and pedigree came to stand for more than in the last era ofthe Republic. (61) It issued in arrogance or torpor. Furthermore, whereas deference and docility in the lower classes earned approval, that comportment was now prescribed for men of rank, in voluntary or venal abasement before the Caesars. (62)

The dynasty of Julii and Claudii is an aristocratic faction, annexing certain ofthe great houses through congenial matrimony, resplendent and ominous. They went down in ruin together.

The nobiles have not spoken. Rome lived on imported talent, at first municipal until provincial Italy made its impact with energy and splendour. The new Romans from Transpadana, endowed with the patriotic virtue of a frontier zone, venerated the names of old renown, the builders of empire. The writers, belonging to the propertied class, were all for stability and concord, reconciling the memory of the Republic with unswerving allegiance to the monarchy. (63)

They came to maturity of age (and some of performance) during the twenty years of discomfort. The opening epoch of the 'novus status' saw the first instalment ofLivy's enterprise. If those books reported outrageous behaviour in a patrician of remote antiquity, such was the tradition he followed or enhanced. No family in his own time conceived offence. The general exposition was innocuous and improving.

Parallel to the Patavine history, the Roman epic called up on parade the heroes of ancient days: 'nati melioribus annis'. Not to any excess of nostalgia. Virgil acclaimed a link with the present felicity, the martial fame of a Claudius Marcellus leading on to commemorate the nephew of Caesar Augustus. In this atmosphere and setting the comportment of Horace, a freedman's son from Venusia, occasions no surprise. Invective and satire to begin with (but not at the expense of birth or privilege), he went on to enjoin moral regeneration and ended by extolling the high aristocracy.

The surprise would be a contemporary indictment. Sallust in his first monograph (duly avoiding the word 'Optimates') attacked the nobilitas, arrogant and exclusive, but also corrupt and incompetent. The portrayal of individuals lent a sharper edge to animosity - Cornelius Sulla the author of evil and Sergius Catilina a predictable product of the Sullan restoration. For an annalistic exposition of his own time and memory, the Roman oligarchy was the theme, a government subverted by Pompeius Magnus, first as an enemy, then a false and fatal ally.

Sallust earned enormous admiration for an innovatory style combined with sentiments of conventional morality. Not all could approve the defamation of consuls and noblemen.

Compilations devoted to the history of Latin literature commonly lodge Sallust among late Repulican writers. He belongs (it can be contended) to a 'Triumviral period' (from 43 to 28), embracing sundry other authors of lasting renown. (64) Sallust may be regarded as a precursor who heralds the censorious and negatory fashion of writing provoked by Rome of the Caesars.

To that Sallustian conception stands in contrast a casual and heterogeneous production, the opuscule of Veleius Patereulus which swells before the end into a panegyric of Tiberius Caesar. Revealing techniques of adulation, it furnishes precious details about consulars liked or disliked by the ruler.

Virgil and Horace were concordant. Writing a generation later, Ovid commends talent or integrity against birth; and he utters a warning against friendship with the 'potentes'. (65) Ovid ended in marked disillusion with the 'magna nomina' of Fabii and Messallae.

Otherwise the theme has to wait for Seneca. On a traditional topic, Seneca deprecates the display of grimy images of forebears or the long and many-branched family trees. The people who exhibit them are 'noti magis quam nobiles'. (66) Ancestors, he goes on to explain, cast radiance on obscure descendants and shield their tailings. (67) Seneca was a man of the world, not afraid to specify a Fabius and an Aemilius in his own time and knowledge (68). He could have said much more.

To Sallust, 'multa legenti, multa audienti', the truth was apparent that the greatness of the Populus Romanus had been achieved by the excellence of 'pauci cives' and they were sparse enough in many seasons. (69) History is close kin to epic. In Lucan's poem on the fall of Libertas the proconsul of Gaul declares a maxim to his army: the life of nations is carried on by a minority. (70)

Though the masses may count for weight and pressure in the revolutionary wars through the resources of the provinces and the demands of the troops (they wanted money and land, and they were sometimes able to prevent the generals from fighting), the writing of history does not well accord with bare abstractions or with appeal to the voiceless and anonymous.

On an extreme pronouncement, not fully honoured by its author, 'non omnia narratu sunt digna quae per squalidas transiere personas'. (71) Those who in any age compose the annals of Rome are moved towards 'clarorum virorum facta moresque'. They run a risk of dispraisal from adepts of recent fashions and doctrines, being condemned for prejudice or a narrow outlook.
Not that the writers themselves have been wholly inadvertent. For example, Tacitus happens to render admirably the behaviour of soldiers, mutinous for just grievances or breaking loose in civil war. Nor should a passing admonition from Edward Gibbon be neglected in this late season. (72)

In notable aspects the long reign of Caesar Augustus remains highly obscure. Whereas hitherto transactions of moment, although liable to distortion, had not defied ascertainment, the advent of centralized authority brought with it barriers and concealment, as suited the ruler and his allies in the power. Facts were either suppressed, or, if published, subject to disbelief

Such was the diagnosis of Cassius Dio, a necessary prologue to his narration of imperial history. (73) Dio had recourse to a variety of sources. He has much of value to report, otherwise lost to knowledge. Nevertheless, although senator and consul, Dio missed significant names and persons when writing about the Augustan epoch at a distance of more than two centuries. Messalla Corvinus earns a stray and solitary mention, Fabius Maximus none at all.

Oligarchy is imposed as the guiding theme, the link from age to age whatever be the form and name of government. To comprehend the aristocracy entails what preceded and what followed: not only the period of the Triumvirs but the reign of Tiberius Caesar, for so much of the documentation derives from Cornelius Tacitus. Eighty years therefore, or even a century and a half. Men and families took backward to Sulla and forward to the fall of the dynasty.

Restriction is enjoined, and concentration. A number of consuls in the first decade of the reign, and in the last two, are only names on the Fasti or items of genealogy. Again, although the new men coming in, the pride and flower of municipal Italy (and some the progenitors of consular houses), are an essentiakl component of social history, that whole class demands segregation - and most of the personal evidence concerns the nobiles. (74)

An economical recourse offers, namely the aristocratic consuls who adorn the single decade (16 to 7) that is of central value for estimating favourably the achievement of the reign. About some of them can be gleaned information sporadic and various yet fairly abundant. Piso the Pontifex might lay claim to a small monograph; and with good will or by artifice, something can be done with other characters such as Fabius Maximus and Quinctilius Varus or even Lentulus the Augur.
The subject deters an annalistic narration which could not without effort be kept separate from the actions and policy of Caesar Augustus, whereas biographies of emperors are a menace and an impediment to the understanding of history in its structure and processes. A different approach may be worth trying: a sequence of interlocking essays.

In the summer of 17 the Ludi Saeculares announced a new era. By appropriate felicity the next year opens with P. Cornelius Scipio and L. Domitius Ahenobarbus and continues with a run of consuls from the high aristocracy. The great change was youth as well as ancestry. Born between 50 and 40 they benefited from the lowered consular age and from the battles that thinned the ranks of the previous generation.

Notes:

1 Dio LIII. 1.1. In the view of some scholars, following Mommsen, the ruler had hitherto carried twenty-four fasces, which were now divided. Dio's own comments were nor helpful.
2 This notion is accorded emphasis in Tacitus (1958), 365.
3 Tacitus, Ann. III.28.2: 'iura quis pace et principe uteremur'.
4 Gibbon's exposition will be read with pleasure, and with profit, beginning with 'it would require the pen of Tacitus ... to describe the various emotions of the senate' (Ch. III, p 98, in the edition of 1802).
5 Res Gestae 34, cf. below, p. 80.
6 'Staatsrtcht' failed to excite the interest of Roman jurists. A paradoxical explanation was proffered by F. Schulz: 'because the last 150 years of the Republic were occupied by a continuous constitutional crisis' (History of Roman Legal Science (1946), 81).
7 For the relevance of Hellenistic monarchies, E. Rawson, ]RS LXV (1975), 148 ff.; for continuity between Triumvirate and Principate, F. Millar, JRS LXIII (1973), 5o ff.
8 Thus Livius Drusus when aedile: 'Remmio collegae quaedam de utilitate rei publicac suggerenti, quid tibi, inquit, cum re publica nostra?' (De vir. ill. 66. 2).
9 Cicero shows up the vacuity of popular sovereignty: 'ferunt enim suffragia, mandant imperia magistratus, ambiuntur, rogantur. sed ea dant quae etiam si nolint, danda sunt' (De r. p. 1I47). Real power, he continues, is measured 'familiarum vetustatihus aut pecuniis'.
10 Deduced from 'ex privato consularis' (Velleius II.51.3). Not in Dio, who presents two other names, viz. C. Cluvius and C. Furnius (LII. 42. 4).
11 They emerge from privileges granted to Mareellus in 24 (Dio LIII. 23., 3f) and to the stepsons of the Prineeps a little later.
12 Dio LIII. 14. 2. The precise year is not on record.
13 For the detail, K. Latte, Römisehe Religionsgeschichte (1960), 294 ff., with sombre conclusions about the Augustan religious revival (309 ff.). Observe likewise C. Dumézil, Ancient Roman Religion (Chicago, 1970), 533.
14 Dio L.4.4.
15 Varro, De l. l. V.95
16 Tacitus, Hist. II.95.1 (Romulus): Ann. I.54.1 (T. Tatius).
17 According to the jurist Masurius Sabinus, the source of Pliny (NH XVIII.6) and of Gellius (VII.7.8).
18 Varro, De l.l. V.85: 'sacra publica faciunt ut fruges ferant arva'. Of which ritual, not a trace or sign in the ample Acta of the Brethren.
19 Dio LIII. 16.7 (stating that the name was in fact offered).
20 'Augusto augurio post quam inclita condita Roma est' (Ennius, fr. 502 V: from Varro, R.r.
III.1.2).
21 For a full study, M. W. H. Lewis, The Official Priests of Rome under theJulio-Claudians (1955). Further, J. Scheid in ANRII7 11.6 (1978), 610 ff.
22 He was careful to register a total of eighty-three priests: at Actium and subsequent accessions (RG 25).
23 In 29, cf. J. Scheid, Les Frères Arvales. Recrutement et origine sociale sous les Empéreurs Julio-Claudiens (1975), 335 f.
24 Messalla was an augur for fifty-five years (Macrobins I.9.4). That is, recruited by Sulla. Varro died in 27 ,' prope nonagenarius', according to Jerome (Chron. p 164 H).
25 CIL VI. 32338, cf. below, p.46.
26 CIL VI. 2023 = ILS 5026.
27 C. Cethegus (notorious for intrigue) earned for his knowledge of the 'res publica' appreciation from another expert: 'totam enim tenebat eam penitusque cognoverat. itaque in senatu consularium auctoritatem adsequebatur' (Brutus 178).
28 Cicero was moved to propose (in a renovated Republic) the death penalty for defiance of augurs (De legibus II.21).
29 Even under a dictatorship, as demonstrated by Antonius in January of 44 (Phil. II, 80).
30 As shown in some Arval Brerthren (1980).
31 For his doctrine about the lex curiata, Ad fam, I.9.25. Hc composed a Liber auguralis', dedicated to Cicero (Ad fam. III.4.1). His addiction to necromancy (De div. I, 137) was not a licit extension.

32 Brutus 156 (at Samos, in 47).

33 Quoted extensively in Gellius XIII, 14ff.

34 For problems about Janus, K. Latte o. c. 132 f.: R. Syme, .AJP C (1979), 188 ff.
35 Both Livy and Dionysius ignore the Arval Brethren. Likewise the lex curiarata; which, so it appears, was revived by Sulla.
36 The Vestals were better served, thte earliest being Cegania aird Verenia (Plutarch, Numa 10). The second name should be corrected: an antiquarian writer called Veranius existed, to be presumed late Republican. For other Vestal of the early time see F. Münzer, Philologus XCII (1937). 47 ff.
37 Festus p. 142 L: 'de quo aris sublatis balnearia sunt (f)acta domus Cn. Domitii Calvini, cum mansisset ab urbe condita (ad pri)ncipatum Augusti. For this old phallic deity, next encountered in the mockery of christian writers, see K. Vahlert, RE XVI. 979 ff.; R. F. A. Palmer, Roman Religion and Roman Empire (1974), 187 ff.
38 The term is nowhere non record. Perhaps a triennium. If so, a 'legis dies', i.e. 'ad Kal. Ian.
quartas .

39 Pro Sestio 68.
40 Ad Att. XII.4.2. In Cato's verdict it not the split hetween Pompeius arid Caesar that doomed the Republic, but their original alliance (Pluttarch, Poompeius 47; Caesar 13).
41 Caesar BG VI. 1. 1, cf. Dio XXXIX. 63.3 f . For a diverse opinion later on, BC I.85.8: 'in se novi generis imperia constitui' etc.
42 Napata, 'cui proxima est Meroe' (RG 26). In fact 430 miles (Pliny, NH VI. 184 f.).
43 Strabo XVII, p. 840; Dio LIII.12.2. Explaining and enumerating the original division, both writers neglect the fact that Illyricum and Macedonia were military provinces.
44 For the detail, Rom. Rev. (1939), 302 f.
45 Who in Illyricum and in Macedonia would tend to he praetoriati iii rank.
46 Rom. Rev. 241 C; 292.
47 Dio LI. 23. 1; LIV 25.2
48 G.W. Bowersock, Augustus and the Greek WorId (1965), 119, cf. 150 f.
49 Perhaps not enforced from the outset.
50 As indicated by Propertius II.7.
51 For a candid and sombre assessment, P. A. Brunt, Italian Manpuer (1971), 566.
52 Observe the arguments of Hortensius in 55 (lDio XXXIX.37.3), echoed in an oration of Asinius Gallus (Ann. II.33.2).
53 Ann. III.35.

54 Rom Rev. 381; below, p. 72.
55 As stated by J. L. Hammond, 'aristocracies have their virtues, but the virtue of a magnificent disdain for money is not to be expected in a class which for generatiosis has taken it as a matter of course that it should be maintained by the State' (The Village Labourers 1760 - 1832 (1911), 329). Roman behaviour is illustrated by W. V. Harris, W'ar and Imperialism in Republican Rome (1979), 87 ff.
56 The phrase is taken from J. A. Spender, The Comments of Bagshot (1912), 114.
57 Sallust, Cat. 52.5.
58 Ovid, Fasti I.217 f
59 As declared somewhere by Chateaubriand.
60 P. Manlius Vulso, one of three ambassadors iii 149, was reputed 'the most stupid of the Romans' (Polybius XXXVII.6.2.). In a Livian epitome he is registered as 'Manlius Volso stolidus' (P. Oxy. 668, I. 113). With Lentulus Clodianus (cos. 72), Sallust achieved a double deinolitious 'perincertum stolidior an vanior' (Hist. IV.1).
61 Tacitus (1958), 57 ff.
62 As Saint Simon observed, l'excès dans Lorgueil et la bassesse s'accomodent presque toujours' (VI. 496, éd. PIéiade). And on courtiers at Versailles, 'on n'oseroit dire des valets' (II. 683).
63 G. E. F. Chilver, Cisalpine Gaul (1949), 208 ff. When Thrasea Paetus (from Patavium) fell foul of Nero he was defending freedom of speech and a senator's dignity. He did not attack the monarchy or criticize imperial policy.
64 For this conception, History in Ovid (1978), 169 f.
65 Ovid, Met. XIII. 140 f.; 'nam genus et proavos et quae non fecimus ipsi / vix ea nostra voco'. Further, Ex P.I 9. 39 f And, for keeping away from the 'potentes', Tr. IV.4 (to an unnamed friend).
66 Seneca, De ben. III.28.2; Epp. 44.5. Cf. the 'commendatio fumosarum imaginum' (Cicero, In Pisonem 1).
67 De ben. IV.30.4.
68 De ben. II.21.5.
69 Sallust, Cat. 53.2 ff.
70 Lucan V.343: 'humanum paucis vivit genus'.
71 AmmianusXXVlI. 1. 15.
72 Only the decline of the Middle Ages 'gradually testored a soul and a substance to the most useful part of the community' (Ch. LXI, p.294).
73 Dio LIII. 1 ff.
74 None the less, they enter from time to time when appropriate, and they afford relief from the plethora of noble nomenclature - whIch lacks variety and can induce confusion or perplexities.
75 Lentulus occupies four pages in PIR (2) - and Piso no fewer than six. Manifold prohlems adhere to both. Only Messalla Corvinus admits a kind of hiography (Ch. XV): likewise infested with problems.

 

III Auszug aus 'Colonial Elites. Rome, Spain and the Americas, Oxforf 1970, S. 2 - 5.

... Empires suggest the inevitable theme of decline and fall. Rome itself furnishes the classic example in the title and volumes of the great English historian Edward Gibbon. The debate on the fall of the Roman Empire is one that continues to this day. Gibbon put the emphasis on two main causes: the invasions of the northern barbarians and internal subversion by a new a ad vigorous religion, issuing from Judaea. But there are many other factors. In the first place perhaps sheer distance, the strain on communications and the enormous extent of the Empire; and from time to time scholars have been impelled to invoke various other causes, such as oeonomic stagnation, the burden of bureaucracy, the failure to develop scientific inventions - or indeed ingrained conceit and an excessive worship of tradition. In our day the ingenious polymath Arnold J. Toynbee comes out with a general theory to explain the decline of all civilizations. He adduces the growth of what he calls an ' internal proletariat,' carrying with it a universal religion which permeates and destroys a civilization. Whatever be thought of that, there is a question which Arnold J. Toynbee and others might well have asked themselves: not the causes for the decay or termination of empires, but rather how and why is it that some of them managed to last as long as they did.

What was it that through the centuries held together the vast empire of the Romans? In the first instance, no doubt, the structure of the imperial system and the principles of government. That will not take one far enough. A structure can turn out to be only a facade. What is behind it? The principles of government may appear firm, enlightened and sagacious. Are they always put into effect? The thing that matters is not the structure, and not the principles, but the men, those who are selected to carry the burden of administration: if you like, the oligarchy of government.

Rome, republican and imperial alike, exhibits the remarkable phenomenon of a governing class which changes steadily through the ages. That was due, not to any theory or doctrine, but to the pressure of facts, acknowledged by a conquering aristocracy - and also by the Caesars and their ministers. As Rome spread her domination over Italy in the time of the Republic, she brought into her ambit the best men from the Italian communities. Similarly, when the Republic gives way to the Empire, the new system that emerges does not hold down or exclude the nations and cities that had come under Rome's dominion. In the past the Romans had been generous with grants of the citizenship; and they now admit to their governing order the leading members of the provincial aristocracies, drawn not only from the West but, after no long interval, from the eastern lands. Hence there is a long and steady process of development in what might properly be called an'open society' or indeed an 'expanding society'.

Those terms are recent indeed, all too familiar, and in danger of being vulgarized. They have been employed by writers whose concern is modern history exclusively, or the philosophy of history. What Rome achieved tends to be ignored. (1) The reason is plain (but the omission none the less deplorable and criminal). The Romans themselves failed to produce any lengthy or searching disquisitions. The best and almost the only exposition of how the governing class was transformed through the ages is a brief summary, casually preserved. The historian Tacitus, for his own good purposes, decided to reproduce (and improve) an oration of Claudius Caesar on that subject. (2)

There emerges therefore a theme of no small pertinence. The strength and vitality of an empire is frequently due to the new aristocracy from the periphery. It may be instructive in different ages and civilizations to study the origin, composition and behaviour of provincial or colonial elites. Various problems arise. Are these provincials descended from colonists of earlier days, do they return to their country of origin, do they stay there and impose their claims? Or, alternatively, are they of alien origin but having fully assimilated the language and habits of the dominant civilization? or again, are they of mixed origin? And finally, touching the rise and fall of empires, stands the peremptory question about the colonial notables: do they secede from the mother country, and, if so, for what reasons?

Does the home government endeavour to conciliate and keep them? Could secession perhaps have been averted by the exercise of one of the prime political virtues, I mean forbearance and patience?

In this matter Roman Spain presents a contrast to the Spanish domination in the two Americas and also to the Thirteen Colonies of the English in North America. Let me therefore turn to Spain in order to explain what role was played in the Roman Empire by the new elite. Most of the Roman provinces were acquired while the constitution of Rome was still that of a republic. The Empire takes its beginning with Caesar Augustus, who in the year 31 B.C., by winning the Battle of Actium, put an end to the strife for power and terminated the civil wars. By his victory Augustus rescued Rome, Italy and the West from Marcus Antonius, his rival, and also from the foreign woman, the queen of Egypt - Cleopatra. He rescued Rome, and that action was fervently acclaimed at the time, and has been much admired subsequently. In the course of years, under that system which Augustus founded, it was not possible to protect Rome from an invasion of a different kind - a peaceful invasion from the provinces of the Roman West.....

 Notes

1 M. L. Hansen, The Atlantic Migration, 1667 - 1800, 41.

2 See the highly critical portrayal by the Virginian historian T. J. Wertenbaker, The Puritan Oligarchy (1947, reprint 1956)..


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