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temper, as well as knowledge, of a modern historian, require a more sober and accurate language. He may impress a juster image of the greatness of Rome, by observing that the empire was about two thousand miles in breadth, from the wall of Antoninus and the northern limits of Dacia, to mount Atlas and the tropic of Cancer; that it extended, in length, more than three thousand miles from the Western ocean to the Euphrates; that it was situated in the finest part of the Temperate Zone, between the twenty-fourth and fifty-sixth degrees of northern latitude, and that it was supposed to contain above sixteen hundred thousand square miles, for the most part of fertile and well cultivated land.(1)
Qf the Union and internal Prosperity of the Roman Empire, in the Age of the Antonines,
It is not alone by the rapidity, or extent of conquest, that we should estimate the greatness of Rome. The sovereign of the Russian deserts commands a larger portion of the globe. In the seventh summer after his passage of the Hellespont, Alexander erected the Macedonian trophies on the banks of the #. Within less than a century, the irresistible Zingis, and the Mogul princes of his race, spread their cruel devastations and transient empire, from the sea of China, to the confines of Egypt and Germany.(3) But the firm edifice of Roman power was raised and preserved by the wisdom of ages. The obedient provinces of Trajan and the Antonines were united by laws, and adorned by arts. They might occasionally suffer from the partial abuse of delegated authority; but the general P. of government was wise, simple, and beneficent. They enjoyed the religion of their ancestors, whilst in civil honours and advantages they were exalted, by just degrees, to an equality with their conquerors.
}. The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the of...; part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.
The superstition of the people was not embittered by any mixture of theological rancour; nor was it confined by the chains of any speculative system. The devout polytheist, though fondly attached to his national rites, admitted with implicit faith the different religions of the earth.(4) Fear, gratitude, and curiosity, a dream or an omen, a singular disorder, or a distant journey, perpetually disposed him to multiply the articles of his belief, and to enlarge the list of his protectors. The thin texture of the Pagan mythology was interwoven with various, but not discordant materials. As soon as it was allowed that sages and heroes, who had lived, or who had died for the benefit of their country, were exalted to a state of power and immortality, it was universally confessed that they deserved, if
(1) See Templeman's Sur, of the Globe, but I distrust both the doctor's learning and his maps.
(2) They were “rected about the midway between Lahor and Dehli. The conquests of Alexander in Hindostan were confined to the Punjah, a country watered by the five great streams of the Indus.* (3) See M. de Guignes Histoire des Huns, 1. xv, xvi, and xvii.
(4) There is not any writer who describes in so lively a manner as Herodotus, the true genius of Polytheism. The best commentary may be found in Mr. Hume's Natural History of Religion; and the best contrast in Bossuet's Universal History. Some obscure traces of an intolerant spirit appear in the conduct of the Egyptians) see Juvenal, Sat. xv.); and the Christians as well as Jews, who lived under the Roman empire, formed a very important exception; so important indeed, that the discussion will require a distinct chapter of this work.f
not the adoration, at least the reverence of all mankind. The deities of a thousand groves and a thousand streams possessed, in peace, their local and respective influence; nor could the Roman who deprecated the wrath of the Tiber, deride the Poło, who presented his offering to the beneficent genius of the Nile. e visible powers of Nature, the planets, and the elements, were the same throughout the universe. The invisible #. of the moral world were inevitably cast in a similar mould of ction and allegory. Every virtue, and even vice, acquired its divine representative; every art and profession its patron, whose attributes, in the most distant ages and countries, were uniformly derived from the character of their peculiar votaries. A republic of gods of such opposite tempers and interest required, in every system, the .# hand of a supreme magistrate, who, by the progress of knowledge and flattery, was gradually invested with the sublime perfections of an Eternal Parent and an Omnipotent Monarch.(1) Such was the mild spirit of antiquity, that the nations were less attentive to the difference, than to the resemblance, of their religious worship. The Greek, the Roman, and the Barbarian, as they met before their respective altars, easily persuaded themselves, that under various names, and with various ceremonies, they adored the same deities. The elegant mythology of Homer gave a beautiful, and almost regular form, to the polytheism of the ancient world.(2) The philosophers of Greece deduced their morals from the nature of man, rather than that of God. They meditated, however, on the Divine Nature, as a very curious and important speculation; and in the profound inquiry, they displayed the strength and weakness of the human understanding.(3) Of the four most celebrated schools, the Stoics and the Platonists endeavoured to reconcile the jarring interests of reason and piety. They have left us the most sublime proofs of the existence and perfections of the first cause; but, as it was impossible for them to conceive the creation of matter, the workman in the Stoic F. was not sufficiently distinguished from the work; while, on the contrary, the spiritual God of Plato and his disciples, resembled an idea, rather than a substance. The opinions of the Academics and Epicureans were of a less religious cast; but while the modest science of the former induced them to doubt, the positive ignorance of the latter urged them to deny, the providence of a Supreme Ruler. The spirit of inquiry, prompted by emulation, and supported by freedom, had divided the public teachers of philosophy into a variety of contending sects; but the ingenuous youth, who, from every part, resorted to Athens, and other seats of learning in the Roman empire, were alike instructed in every school to reject and despise the religion of the multitude. How, indeed, was it possible, that a philosopher should accept, as divine truths, the idle tales of the poets, and the incoherent traditions of antiquity: or, that he should adore, as gods, those imperfect beings whom he must have despised as men! Against such unworthy adversaries, Cicero condescended to employ the arms of reason and eloquence; but the satire of Lucian was a much more adequate, as well as more efficacious weapon. We may be well assured, that a writer conversant with the world, would never have ventured to expose the gods of his country to public ridicule, had they not already been the objects of secret contempt among the polished and enlightened orders of society.(4. (1). The rights, powers, and pretensions, of the sovereign of Olympus are very clearly described in the fifteenth book of the Iliad: in the Greek original, I mean; for Mr. Pope, without perceiving it, has improved the theology of Homer.” (2) See, for instance, Caesar de Bell. Gall. 6, 17. Within a century or two, the Gauls themselves applied to their gods the names of Mercury, Mars, Apollo, &c. (3) The admirable work of Cicero de Natura Deorum, is the best clue we have to guide us through the dark and profound abyss. He represents with candour, and confutes with subtlety, the opinions of the philosophers.
(4) I do not pretend to assert, that, in this irreligious age, the natural terrors of superstition, dreams, omens, apparitions, &c. had lost their efficacy.
Notwithstanding the fashionable irreligion which prevailed in the age of the Antonines, both the interests of the priests, ..F. credulity o: people, were sufficiently respected. . In their writings and conversation, the philosophers of antiquity asserted the independent dignity of reason; but they resigned their actions to the commands of law and of custom. Viewing, with a smile of pity and indulgence, the various errors of the vulgar, they diligently practised the ceremonies of their fathers, devoutly frequented the temples of the gods; and sometimes condescending to act a part on the theatre of superstition, they concealed the sentiments of an Atheist under the sacerdotal robes. Reasoners of such a temper were scarcely inclined to wrangle about their respective modes of faith, or of worship. It was indifferent to them what shape the folly of the multitude might choose to assume; and they approached, with the same inward Contempt, and the same external reverence, the altars of the Lybian, the Olympian, or the Capitoline Jupiter.(1) t is not easy to conceive from what motives a spirit of persecution could introduce itself into the Roman councils. The magistrates could not be actuated by a blind, though honest bigotry, since the magistrates were themselves philosophers; and the schools of Athens had given laws to the senate. ey could not be impelled by ambition or avarice, as the temporal and ecclesiastical powers were united in the same hands. The pontiffs were chosen among the most illustrious of the senators; and the office of Supreme Pontiff was constantly exercised by the emperors themselves. They knew and valued the advantages of religion, as it is connected with civil government. They encouraged the public festivals which humanize the manners of the people. ... They managed the arts of divination, as a convenient instrument of policy; and they respected as the firmest bond of society, the useful persuasion, that, either in this or in a future life, the crime of perjury is most assuredly punished by the avenging gods.(2) But whilst they acknowledged the general advantages of religion, they were convinced, that the various modes of worship contributed alike to the same salutary purposes; and that, in every country, the form of superstition, which §f received the sanction of time and experience, was the best adapted to the climate, and to its inhabitants. Avarice and taste very frequently despoiled the vanquished nations of the elegant statues of their gods, and the rich ornaments of their temples;(3) but, in the exercise of the religion which they derived from their ances. tors they uniformly experienced the indulgence, and even protection, of the Roman conquerors. The province of Gaul seems, and indeed only seems, an exception to this universal toleration. Under the specious pretext of abolishing human sacrifices, the emperors Tiberius and Claudiu suppressed the dangerous power of the Druids:(4) but the priests themselves, their gods, and their altars, subsisted in peaceful obscurity till the final destruction of Paganism.(5) Rome, the capital of a great monarchy, was incessantly filled with subjects and strangers from every part of the world,(6) who all introduced and enjoyed the favourite superstitions of their native country.(7) Every city in the empire was justified in maintaining the purity of its ancient ceremonies; and the Roman Senate, using the common privilege, some
(1) Socratcs, Epicurus, Cicero, and Plutarch, always inculcated a decent reverence for the religion of their own country, and of mankind. The devotion of Epicurus was assiduous and exemplary. , Diogen. Laert. x. 10. (2) Polybius, l. vi. c. 53, 54. Juvenal, Sat. xiii. laments that in histine this apprehension had lost much of its effect. (3) See the fate of Syracuse, Tarentum, Ambracia, Corinth, &c. the conduct of Verres, is Cicero (Actio ii. Orat. 4), and the usual practice of governors, in the viiith Satire of Juvenal (4) Sueton, in Claud—Plin. Hist. Nat. xxx. (5) Pelloutier Histoire des Celtes, tom. vi. p. 239-252. (6) Seneca Consolat. ad Helviam, p. 74. Edit. Lips. f7) Dionysius Halicarn. Antiquitat. Roman. l. ii
thmes interposed, to check this inundation of foreign rites. The Egyptian superstition, of all the most contemptible and abject, was frequently prohibited; the temples of Serapis and lsis demolished, and their worshippers banished from Rome and Italy.(1) But the zeal of fanaticism prevailed over the cold and feeble efforts of policy. The exiles returned, the proselytes multiplied, the temples were restored with increasing splendour, and Isis and Serapis at length assumed their place among the Roman deities.(2) Nor was this indulgence a departure from the old maxims of government. In the purest ages of the commonwealth, Cybele and Æsculapius had been invited by solemn embassies;(3) and it was customary to tempt the protectors of besieged cities, by the promise of more distinguished honours than they possessed in their native o Rome gradually became the common temple of her subjects; and the freedom of the city was bestowed on all the gods of mankind.(5) II. The narrow policy of preserving, without any foreign mixture, the pure blood of the ancient citizens, had checked the fortune, and hasten d the ruin of Athens and Sparta. The aspiring genius of Rome sacrificed vanity to ambition, and deemed it more prudent, as well as honourable, to adopt virtue and merit for her own wheresoever they were found, among slaves or strangers, enemies or barbarians.(6) o; the most flourishing era of ... commonwealth, the number of citizens gradually decreased from about ...] to twenty-one thousand.(8) If, on the contrary, we study the growth of the Roman o we may discover, that, notwithstanding the incessant demands of wars and colonies, the citizens, who, in the first census of Servius Tullius, amounted to no more than eighty-three thousand, were multiplied, before the commencement of the social war, to the number of four hundred and sixty-three thousand men, able to bear arms in the service of their country.(9). When the allies of Rome claimed an equal share of honours and privileges, the senate indeed preferred the chance of arms to an ignominious concession. The Samnites and the Lucanians paid the severe penalty of their rashness; but the rest of the Italian states, as they successively returned to their duty, were admitted into the bosom of the republic,(10) and soon contributed to the ruin of public freedom. Under a democratical government, the citizens exercise the powers of sovereignty; and those powers will be first abused, and afterwards lost, if they are committed to an unwieldy multitude. But when the popular assemblies had been suppressed by the administration of the emperors, the conquerors were distinguished from the vanquished nations only as the first and most honourable order of subjects; and their increase, however rapid, was no longer exposed to the same dangers. Yet the wisest princes, who adopted the maxims of Augustus; guarded with the strictest care the dignity of the Roman name, and diffused the freedom of the city with a prudent liberality.(11) Till the privileges of the Romans had been progressively extended to all the j. of the empire, an important distinction was preserved between Italy and the provinces. The former was esteemed the centre of public unity, and the firm basis of the constitution. Italy claimed the birth, or at least the residence of the emperors and the senate.(1) The estates of the Italians were exempt from taxes, their persons from the arbitrary jurisdiction of governors. Their municipal corporations, formed after the perfect model of the capital, were intrusted, under the immediate eye of the supreme power, with the execution of the laws. From the foot of the Alps to the extremity of Calabria, all the natives of Italy were born citizens of Rome. Their partial distinctions were obliterated, and they o coalesced into one great nation, united by language, manners, and civil institutions, and equal to the weight of a powerful empire. The republic gloried in her generous policy, and was frequently rewarded by the merit and services of her adopted sons. Had she always confined the distinction of Romans to the ancient families within the walls of the city, that immortal name would have been derived of some of its noblest ornaments. Virgil was a native of Mantua; orace was inclined to doubt whether he should call himself an Apulian or a Lucanian; it was in Padua that an historian was found worthy to record the majestic series of Roman victories. The patriot family of the Catos emerged from Tusculum; and the little town of Arpinum claimed the j of roducing Marius and Cicero, the former of whom deserved, after Romulus and Camillus, to be styled the Third Founder of Rome; and the latter, after saving his country from the designs of Catiline, enabled her to contend with Athens for the palm of eloquence.(2) The provinces of the empire (as they have been described in the preceding chapter) were destitute of any public force, or constitutional freedom. In Etruria, in Greece,(3) and in Gaul,(4) it was the first care of the senate to dissolve those dangerous confederacies, which taught mankind, that, as the Roman arms prevailed by division, they might be resisted by union...Those princes, whom the ostentation of gratitude or generosity permitted for a while to hold a precarious sceptre, were dismissed from their thrones, as soon as they had persormed their appointed task of fashioning to the yoke the vanquished nations. The free states and cities ... embraced the cause of Rome, were rewarded with a nominal alliance, and insensibly sunk into real servitude. The public authority was every where exercised by the ministers of the senate and of the emperors, and that authority was absolute, and without control: But the same salutary maxims of government, which had secured the peace and obedience of Italy, were extended to the most distant conquests. A nation of Romans was gradually formed in the provinces, by the double expedient of introducing colonies, and of admitting the most faithful and deserving of the provincials to the freedom of Rome. “Wheresoever the Roman conquers, he inhabits,” is a very just observation of Seneca,(5) confirmed by history and experience. The natives of Italy, allured by pleasure or by interest, hastened to enjoy the advan. of victory; and we may remark, that, about forty years after the reduction of Asia, eighty thousand Romans were massacred in one day justly suspect that the historian Dion was the author of a counsel, so much adapted to the practice of his own age, and so little to that of Augustus. (1) The senators were obliged to have one-third of their own landed property in Italy. See Plin. I. vi. ep. 19. The qualification was reduced by Marcus to one-fourth. Since the reign of Trajan, Italy had sunk nearer to the level of the provinces. (2) The first part of the Verona Illustrata of the Marquis Maffei, gives the clearest and most comprehensive view of the state of Italy under the Caesars.t (3) See Pausanius, 1. vii. The Romans condescended to restore the names of those assemblies when they could no longer be dangerous. (4) They are frequently mentioned by Caesar. The Abbé Dubos attempts, with very little success, to prove that the assemblies of Gaul were continued under the emperors. Histoire de
(1) In the year of Rome 701, the temple of Isis and Serapis was demolished by the order of the senate (Dion Cassius, l. xi. p. 252), and even by the hands of the consul. (Valerius Maximus, 1.3)t After the death of Caesar, it was restored at the public expense, (Dion, 1. xlvii. É. 501.) When Augustus was in Egypt, he revered the majesty of Serapis (Dion, l. li. p. 674);
ut in the Pomarium of Rome, and a mile round it, he prohibited the worship of the sptian
gods. (Dion, l. liii. p. 679. l. liv. p. 735.) They remained, however, very fashionable under his reign (Uvid. de Art. Amand. l. i.), and that of his successor, till the justice of Tiberius was provoked to some acts of severity (See Tacit. Annal. ii. 85. Joseph. Antiquit. l. xviii. c. 3.):
§ Tertullian in Apologetic. c. 6. p. 74. Edit. Havercamp. I am inchined to attribute their establishment to the devotion of the Flavian family.
) See Livy, I. xi. and xxix.
4) Macrob. Saturnalia, l. iii. c. 9. He gives us aform of evocation.
(5) Minutius Felix in Octavio, p. 54, Arnobius, 1. vi. p. 115.
(6) Tacit. Annal. xi. 24. The Orbis Romanus of the searned Spanheim, is a complete history of the progressive admission of Latium, Italy, and the provinces, to the freedom of Rome."
(7) #. v. 97. It should seem, however, that he followed a large and popular estimation.
(8) Athenaeus Deipnosophist. 1. vi. p. 272. Edit. Casaubon. Meursius de Fortuna Attica, c. 4.1
‘9) See a very accurate collection of the numbers of each Lustrum in M. de Beaufort, Repub
Aque Romaine, l. iv. c.4." (10) Appian. de Bell. civil...l. i. Welleius Paterculus, l. ii. c. 15, 16, 17. (11) Maecenas had advised" on to declare by one edict, all his subjects, citizens. But we may