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Circa 753

formed Latium proper—the real plainland as it seems from the height of the Alban mount. This plain is broken by hills of tufa of moderate height, and by deep fissures in the ground. Owing to this uneven character lakes are formed in winter, and as there is no natural outlet for the water, malaria arises from the noxious exhalations in summer heat. This malaria the ancient inhabitants avoided by wearing heavy woolen clothing, and by keeping a con


stant blazing fire, and thus a dense population existed where now no one can support a healthy life.

The conditions of early society among the settlers in Latium must be a matter of conjecture. There were a number of independent political communities called cantons, composed of little villages. The latter were in turn probably made up of family groups whose association was based upon relationship and the need of cooperation in getting a living, so that each village was a sort of clan. No doubt each canton had its local center, which served alike as a place of meeting and of refuge; these were called, from their position, mountain tops (capitolia) or strongholds (arces). In time houses began to cluster round the stronghold, and were surrounded with the "ring" (urbs), thus the nucleus of a town was formed, which tended gradually to absorb the different villages. Circa 753

There can be little doubt that the Alban range, irom its natural strength and advantages of air and water, was occupied by the first comers. Here, among other ancient canton-centers, stood preeminent Alba, the mother-city of all the old Latin settlements. Therefore, when the various cantons, though each independent and governed by its own constitution of prince, elders, and general assembly of warriors, expressed their sense of the ties of blood and language by forming what is known as the Latin League, it was but natural that Alba should be the center of that league, and therefore president of the thirty cantons which composed it. We have no certain knowledge as to the powers or legal rights this confederacy exercised over the various members. Probably disputes between cantons were settled by the league, wars against foreign foes decided, and a federal commander-in-chief appointed. What we do know is that on the annual day of assembly the Latin festival was kept, and an ox sacrificed to the Latin god, Jupiter Latiaris. Each community had to contribute to the sacrificial feast its fixed proportion of cattle, milk, and cheese, and to receive in return a part of the roasted victim. During this festival a "truce of God" was observed throughout all Latium, and safe-conducts were probably granted, even by tribes at feud with one another. It is impossible to define the privileges of Alba, as presiding canton. Probably it was a purely honorary position, and had no political signification, certainly none as denoting any sort of leadership or command of the rest of the Latin cantons. But, vague as the outlines of this early canton life must necessarily be, they show us the one great fact of a common center, which, while it did not destroy the individual independence of the cantons, kept alive the feeling of national kinship, and thus paved the way for that national union which is the goal of every free people's progress.

In tracing the beginnings of Rome, her original constitution, and the first changes it underwent, we are on ground which the uncertain light of ancient tradition and modern theory has made most difficult, if not impossible to traverse with any certainty. The very name of Romans, with which the settlement on the low hills on the left bank of the Tiber has so long been associated, was originally not Romans, but Ramnes (possibly "bushmen"). Side by side with this Latin settlement of Ramnians two other cantons settled, the Luceres and the Tities, the latter considered to be of Sabellian, not Latin, stock. From the combination of these three arose Rome. Circa 753

The unfavorable character of the site renders it hard to understand how the city could so early attain its prominent position in Latium. The soil is unfavorable to the growth of fig or vine, and in addition to the want of good water-springs, swamps are caused by the frequent inundations of the Tiber. Moreover, it was confined in all land directions by powerful cities. But all these disadvantages were more than compensated by the unfettered command it had of both banks of the Tiber down to the mouth of the river. The fact that the clan of the Romilii was settled on the right bank from time immemorial, and that there lay the grove of the creative goddess, Dea Dia, and the primitive seat of the Arval festival and Arval brotherhood, proves that the original territory of Rome comprehended Janiculum and Ostia, which afterwards fell into the hands of the Etruscans. Not only did this position on both banks of the Tiber place in Rome's hands all the traffic of Latium, but, as the Tiber was the natural barrier against northern invaders, Rome became the maritime frontier fortress of Latium. Again, the situation acted in two ways: Firstly, it brought Rome into commercial relations with the outer world, cemented her alliance with Caere, and taught her the importance of building bridges. Secondly, it caused the Roman canton to become united in the city itself far earlier than was the case with other Latin communities. And thus, though Latium was a strictly agricultural country, Rome was a center of commerce; and this commercial position stamped its peculiar mark on the Roman character, distinguishing them from the rest of the Latins and Italians, as the citizen is distinguished from the rustic. Not, indeed, that the Roman neglected his farm, or ceased to regard it as his home; but the unwholesome air of the Campagna tended to make him withdraw to the more healthful city hills; and from early times by the side of the Roman farmer arose a non-agricultural population, composed partly of foreigners and partly of natives, which tended to develop urban life.1

1 One of the most potent influences in the growth of Rome was undoubtedly this habit of association engendered by her peculiar location. The settlements on neighboring hills, originally of separate cantons, were too near together to permit independence except at the cost of perpetual anfl mutually destructive warfare, so that the only alternative, that of union on a basis of equality of rights, was adopted. This at an early day broke down the political and religious exclusiveness characteristic of the Italian cantons and of all primitive .communities and gave to the Romans a liberality of mind and an adaptability which was one of the chief elements of their success in dealing with other peoples, Rome thus absorbed other communities instead of destroying them.

Chapter III


HE basis of the Roman constitution was the family, and

the constitution of the state was but an expansion of that

JL of the family. The head of the household was of necessity a man, and his authority alike as father or husband was supreme, and in the eye of the law as absolute over wife and child as over slave. Though a woman could acquire property, she was under the absolute dominion of her father, or, if married, under that of her husband, or, if he died, under the guardianship of her nearest male relations. This authority of the pater familias was alike irresponsible and unchangeable; nor could it be dissolved except by death. Although a grown-up son might establish a separate household of his own, all his property, however acquired, belonged legally to his father; and it was easier for a slave to obtain release from his master than for a son to free himself from the control of his father. A daughter, if married, passed out of her father's hand into that of her husband, to whose clan or gens she henceforth belonged. On the father's death the sons still preserved the unity of the family, nor did it become broken till the male stock died out, but, as the connecting links became gradually weaker in succeeding generations, there arose the distinction between members of a family, agnati, and members of a clan, gentiles. The former denoted those male members of a family who could show the successive steps of their descent from a common progenitor, the latter, those who could no longer prove their degree of relationship by pointing out the intermediate links of connection with a common ancestor. Slaves belonging to a household were regarded by the law, not as living beings, but as chattels, whose position was not affected by the death of the head of the house. Attached to the Roman household was an intermediate class of persons called clients ("listeners"), or dependents. These consisted partly of refugees from foreign states; partly of slaves living in a state of practical freedom; partly of persons who, though not free citizens of any community, lived in a condition of protected freedom. Although these formed with the slaves the familia, or "body of servants," and were dependent on the will of the head of the house or patron, their position was practically one of considerable freedom; and in the course of several generations the clients of a household acquired more and more liberty. Everyone who was a member of a Roman family, and therefore of one of the gentes, or clanships, whose union formed the state, was a true citizen or burgess of Rome. Everyone born of parents united by the ceremony of the sacred salted cake was also a full citizen; and therefore the Roman burgesses called themselves " fathers' children," patricii, as in the eye of the law they alone had a father. Thus the state consisted of gentes, or clans, and the clans of families, and although the relations of the various members of the household were not altered by their incorporation with the state, yet a son outside the household was on a footing of equality with the father in respect of political rights and duties. So, too, the various clients, though not admitted to the rights and duties proper to true burgesses, were not wholly excluded from participation in state festivals and state worship; and this would be especially true of those who were not clients of special families, but of the community at large.


Since the family served as the model for the constitution of the state, it was necessary to choose someone who should stand in the same relation to the body-politic as the head of the family did to the household. He who was so chosen rex, or leader, possessed the same absolute power over the state as the house-father had over his household, and, like him, ruled for life: there was no other holder of power besides him. His "command" (imperium) was all-powerful in peace and war, and he was preceded by lictors, or "summoners," armed with axes and rods on all public occasions. He nominated priests and priestesses, and acted as the nation's intercessor with the gods. He held the keys of the public treasury, and alone had the right of publicly addressing the burgesses. He was supreme judge in all private and criminal trials, and had the power of life and death; he called out the people for military service, and commanded the army. Any magistrates, any religious colleges, any military officers, that he might appoint, derived all their power from him, and only existed during his pleasure. His power only ended with death, and he appointed his successor, thus imparting a sense of permanence to the kingship, despite the per

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