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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
formidable axes, were borne before them by the lic-
tors." The procession moved from the palace to the
Forum, or principal square of the city; where the
consuls ascended their tribunal, and seated themselves
in the curule chairs, which were framed after the
fashion of ancient times. They immediately exercised
an act of jurisdiction, by the manumission of a slave,
who was brought before them for that purpose; and
the ceremony was intended to represent the celebrated
action of the elder Brutus, the author of liberty and
of the consulship, when he admitted among his fel-
low-citizens the faithful Vindex, who had revealed
the conspiracy of the Tarquins. The public festival
was continued during several days in all the principal
cities; in Rome, from custom; in Constantinople,
from imitation; in Carthage, Antioch, and Alex-
andria, from the love of pleasure and the superfluity
of wealth." In the two capitals of the empire the
annual games of the theatre, the circus, and the am-
phitheatre,' cost four thousand pounds of gold, (about)
* Cernis et armorum proceres legumque potentes:
Patricios sumunt habitus; et more Gabino
Discolor incedit legio, positisque parumper
Bellorum signis, sequitur vexilla Quirini.
Lictori cedunt aquilae, ridetaue togatus
Miles, et in mediis effulget curia castris.
Claud. in iv Cons. Honorii, 5.
strictasque procul radiare secures.
In Cons. Prob. 229.
i See Walesius ad Ammian. Marcellin. l. xxii. c. 7.
j Auspice mox laeto sonuit clamore tribunal;
Te fastos ineunte quater; solemnia ludit
Omnia libertas: deductum vindice morem
Lex servat, famulusque jugo laxatus herili
Ducitur, et grato remeat securior ictu.
Claudian in iv Cons. Honorii, 611.
* Celebrant quidem solemnesistos dies, omnes ubique urbes quae sub legibus
agunt; et Roma de more, et Constantinopolis de imitatione, et Antiochia pro
luxu, et discincta Carthago, et domus fluminis Alexandria, sed Treviri Principis

beneficio. Ausonius in Grat. Actione. * Claudian (in Cons. Mall. Theodori, 279–331) describes, in a lively and

XVII.

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

CHAP.
XVII.

The patri-
cians.

fanciful manner, the various games of the circus, the theatre, and the amphi-
theatre. exhibited by the new consul. The sanguinary combats of gladiators had
already been prohibited.
" Procopius in Hist. Arcana, c. 26.
" In Consulatu honos sine labore suscipitur. (Mamertin. in Panegyr. Vet.

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.

XVII.

CHAP.

XVII.

of perpetuating an order, which was still considered

as honourable and sacred." But these artificial sup-
plies (in which the reigning house was always in-
cluded) were rapidly swept away by the rage of
tyrants, by frequent revolutions, by the change of
manners, and by the intermixture of nations." Little
more was left when Constantine ascended the throne.
than a vague and imperfect tradition, that the Pa-
tricians had once been the first of the Romans. To
form a body of nobles, whose influence may restrain,
while it secures the authority of the monarch, would
have been very inconsistent with the character and
policy of Constantine; but had he seriously enter-
tained such a design, it might have exceeded the
measure of his power to ratify, by an arbitrary edict,
an institution which must expect the sanction of time
and of opinion. He revived, indeed, the title of
PATRICIANs, but he revived it as a personal, not as
an hereditary distinction. They yielded only to the
transient superiority of the ammual consuls; but they
enjoyed the pre-eminence over all the great officers,
of state, with the most familiar access to the person
of the prince. This honourable rank was bestowed
on them for life; and as they were usually favourites,
and ministers who had grown old in the imperial
court, the true etymology of the word was perverted
by ignorance and flattery; and the Patricians of Con-
stantine were reverenced as the adopted Fathers of
the emperor and the republic."
* Tacit. Annal. xi. 25. Dion Cassius, l. lii. p. 693. The virtues of Agricola,
who was created a Patrician by the emperor Vespasian, reflected honour on that
ancient order; but his ancestors had not any claim beyond an Equestrian nobility.
* This failure would have been almost impossible if it were true, as Casaubon
compels Aurelius Victor to affirm (ad Sueton, in Caesar. c. 42. See Hist. August.
p. 203, and Casaubon Comment. p. 220), that Vespasian created at once a
thousand Patrician families. But this extravagant number is too much even for
the whole Senatorial order, unless we should include all the Roman knights who,

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.
grees from the most humble condition, were invested
with the civil and military administration of the Roman
world. From the reign of Severus to that of Dio-
cletian, the guards and the palace, the laws and the
finances, the armies and the provinces, were intrusted
to their superintending care; and, like the Vizirs of
the East, they held with one hand the seal, and with
the other the standard, of the empire. The ambition
of the praefects, always formidable and sometimes
fatal to the masters whom they served, was supported
by the strength of the Praetorian bands; but after
those haughty troops had been weakened by Dio-
cletian, and finally suppressed by Constantine, the
praefects, who survived their fall, were reduced with-
out difficulty to the station of useful and obedient
ministers. When they were no longer responsible
for the safety of the emperor's person, they resigned
the jurisdiction which they had hitherto claimed and
exercised over all the departments of the palace.
They were deprived by Constantine of all military
command, as soon as they had ceased to lead into
the field, under their immediate orders, the flower of
the Roman troops; and at length, by a singular re-
volution, the captains of the guards were transformed
into the civil magistrates of the provinces. According
to the plan of government instituted by Diocletian,
the four princes had each their Praetorian praefect;
and after the monarchy was once more united in the
person of Constantine, he still continued to create
the same number of Four PRAEFECTs, and intrusted
to their care the same provinces which they already
administered. 1. The praefect of the East stretched
his ample jurisdiction into the three parts of the globe

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