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nent officers of the state and army, in the habit of CHAP.
senators; and the useless fasces, armed with the once
beneficio. Ausonius in Grat. Actione. * Claudian (in Cons. Mall. Theodori, 279–331) describes, in a lively and
one hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling : and if so heavy an expense surpassed the faculties or the inclination of the magistrates themselves, the sum was supplied from the imperial treasury." As soon as the consuls had discharged these customary duties, they were at liberty to retire into the shade of private life, and to enjoy, during the remainder of the year, the undisturbed contemplation of their own greatness. They no longer presided in the national councils; they no longer executed the resolutions of peace or war. Their abilities (unless they were employed in more effective offices) were of little moment; and their names served only as the legal date of the year in which they had filled the chair of Marius and of Cicero. Yet it was still felt and acknowledged, in the last period of Roman servitude, that this empty name might be compared, and even preferred, to the possession of substantial power. The title of consul was still the most splendid object of ambition, the noblest reward of virtue and loyalty. The emperors themselves, who disdained the faint shadow of the republic, were conscious that they acquired an additional splendour and majesty as often as they assumed the annual honours of the consular dignity." The proudest and most perfect separation which can be found in any age or country, between the nobles and the people, is perhaps that of the Patricians and the Plebeians, as it was established in the first age of the Roman republic. Wealth and
fanciful manner, the various games of the circus, the theatre, and the amphi-
xi. 2). This exalted idea of the consulship is borrowed from an Oration (iii. p.
107) pronounced by Julian in the servile court of Constantius. See the Abbé de la Bleterie (Memoires de l'Acadenie, tom. xxiv. p. 289), who delights to pursue the vestiges of the old constitution, and who sometimes finds them in his copious fancy,
honours, the offices of the state, and the ceremonies chap.
of religion, were almost exclusively possessed by the former; who preserving the purity of their blood with the most insulting jealousy," held their clients in a condition of specious vassalage. But these distinctions, so incompatible with the spirit of a free people, were removed, after a long struggle, by the persevering efforts of the Tribunes. The most active and successful of the Plebeians accumulated wealth, aspired to honours, deserved triumphs, contracted alliances, and, after some generations, assumed the pride of ancient nobility.” The Patrician families, on the other hand, whose original number was never recruited till the end of the commonwealth, either failed in the ordinary course of nature, or were extinguished in so many foreign and domestic wars, or,
through a want of merit or fortune, insensibly mingled with the mass of the people." Very few remained
who could derive their pure and genuine origin from the infancy of the city, or even from that of the republic, when Caesar and Augustus, Claudius and Vespasian, created from the body of the senate a competent number of new Patrician families, in the hope
• Intermarriages between the Patricians and Plebeians were prohibited by the laws of the XII Tables; and the uniform operations of human nature may attest that the custom survived the law. See in Livy (iv. 1–6) the pride of family urged by the consul, and the rights of mankind asserted by the tribune Canuleius.
P See the animated pictures drawn by Sallust, in the Jugurthine war, of the pride of the nobles, and even of the virtuous Metellus, who was unable to brook the idea that the honour of the consulship should be bestowed on the obscure merit of his lieutenant Marius (c. 64). Two hundred years before, the race of the Metelli themselves were confounded among the Plebeians of Rome; and from the etymology of their name of Caecilius, there is reason to believe that those haughty nobles derived their origin from a sutler.
q In the year of Rome 800, very few remained, not only of the old Patrician families, but even of those which had been created by Caesar and Augustus. (Tacit. Annal. xi.25). The family of Scaurus (a branch of the Patrician AEmilii) was degraded so low that his father, who exercised the trade of a charcoal-merchant, left him only ten slaves, and somewhat less than three hundred pounds sterling. (Valerius Maximus, l. iv. c. 4. n. 11; Aurel. Victor in Scauro.). The family was saved from oblivion by the merit of the son.
of perpetuating an order, which was still considered
as honourable and sacred." But these artificial sup-
were distinguished by the permission of wearing the laticlave. ‘Zosimus, l. ii. p. 118; and Godefroy ad Cod. Theodos. 1. vi. tit. vi.
II. The fortunes of the Praetorian praefects were CHAP. essentially different from those of the consuls and ** patricians. The latter saw their ancient greatness The Pre
- - e - - torian prae
evaporate in a vain title. The former, rising by de-i.