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on the horses and charioteers, their minds agitated with hope and fear, for the success of the colours which they espoused; and the happiness of Rome appeared to hang on the event of a race.11 The same immoderate ardour inspired their clamours, and their applause, as often as they were entertained with the hunting of wild beasts, and the various modes of theatrical representation. These representations in modern capitals may deserve to be considered as a pure and elegant school of taste, and perhaps of virtue. But the tragic and comic muse of the Romans, who seldom aspired beyond the imitation of Attic genius,q had been almost totally silent since the fall of the republic;' and their place was unworthily occupied by licentious farce, effeminate music, andsplendid pageantry. The pantomimes,8 who maintained their reputation from the age of Augustus to the sixth century, expressed, without the use of words, the various fables of the gods and heroes of antiquity; and the perfection of their art, which sometimes disarmed the gravity of the philosopher, always excited the applause and wonder of the people. The vast and magnificent theatres of Rome were filled by three thousand female dancers, and by three thousand singers, with the masters of the respective chorusses. Such was the popular favour which they enjoyed, that, in a time of scarcity, when all strangers were banished from the city, the merit of contributing to the public pleasures, exempted them from a law, which was strictly executed against the professors of the liberal arts.'
i Juvenal. Sntir. 11. 191, &c. The expressions of the historian Ammiamis, are not less strong and animated than those of the satyristg; and both the one and tk« other painted from the life. The numbers which the great Circus was capable of receiving, are taken from the original notitia of the city. The differences between them prove that they did not transcribe each other; but the sum may appear incredible, though the country on these occasions flocked to the city.
i Sometimes indeed they composed original pieces,
Ausi deserere et celebrare domestica facta.
Horat. Epistol. ad Pisones, 285. and the leamed, though perplexed, note of Dacier, who might have allowed the name of tragedies to the firultu and the l>c,-im of Pacuvius, or to the Colo of Matemus. The Octavia, ascribed to one of the Senecas, still remains a very unfavourable specimen of Roman tragedy.
r In the time of Qnintilian and Pliny, a tragic poet was reduced to the imperfect method of hiring a great room, and reading bis play to the company, whom he invited for that purpose. (See Dialog, de Oratoribus, c. 9.11. and Plin. Epistol. 7.17.)
• See the Dialogue of Lucian, entitled de Saltatione, tom. 2. p. 265—317. edit. Reitz. The pantomimes obtained the honourable name of xptprsfa; andkwas required that t h<-\ should be conversant with almost every art and science. Burette (in the Mcmoires de 1'Academic des Inscriptions, tom. 1. p. 12T, &c.) has given » short history of the art of pantomitnes.
p ]o It is said, that the foolish curiosity of ElagaDm* of balus attempted to discover, from the quantity of spiders' webs, the number of the inhabitants of Rome. A more rational method of inquiry might not have been undeserving of the attention of the wisest princes, who could easily have resolved a question so important for the Roman government, and so interesting to succeeding ages. The births and deaths of the citizens were duly registered; and if any writer of antiquity had condescended to mention the annual amount, or the common average, we might now produce some satisfactory calculation, which would destroy the extravagant assertions of critics, and perhaps confirm the modest and probable conjectures of philosophers." The most diligent researches have collected only the following circumstances; which, slight and imperfect as they are, may tend in some degree to illustrate the question of the populousness of ancient Rome. I. When the capital of the empire was besieged by the Goths, the circuit of the walls was accurately measured, by Ammonius, the mathematician, who found it equal to twenty-one miles/ It should not be forgotten, that the form of the city was almost that of a circle; the geometrical figure which is known to contain the largest space within any given circumference. II. The architect Vitruvius, who nourished in the Augustine age, and whose evidence, on this occasion, has peculiar weight and authority, observes, that the innumerable habitations of the Roman people would have spread themselves far beyond the narrow limits of the city; and that the want of ground, which was probably contracted on every side by gardens and villas, suggested the common, though inconvenient, practice of raising the houses to a considerable height in the air.T But the loftiness of these buildings, which often consisted of hasty work, and insufficient materials, was the cause of frequent and fatal accidents; and it was repeatedly enacted by Augustus, as well as by Nero, that the height of private edifices, within the walls of Rome, should not exceed the measure of seventy feet from the ground." HI. Juvenal* laments, as it should seem from his own experience, the hardships of the poorer citizens, to whom he addresses the salutary advice of emigrating, without delay, from the smoke of Rome, since they might purchase, in the little towns of Italy, a cheerful commodious dwelling, at the same price which they annually paid for a dark and miserable lodging. House-rent was therefore immoderately dear: the rich acquired, at an enormous expense, the ground, which they covered with palaces and gardens; but the body of the Roman people was crowded into a narrow space; and the different floors, and apartments, of the same house, were divided, as it is still the custom of Paris, and other cities, among several families of plebeians. IV. The total number of houses in the fourteen regions of the city, is accurately stated in the description of Rome, composed under the reign of Theodosius, and they amount to forty-eight thousand three hundred and eighty-two.b The two classes of domus and of insulce, into which they are divided, include all the habitations of the capital, of every rank and condition, from the marble palace of the Anicii, with a numerous establishment of freedmen and slaves, to the lofty and narrow lodging-house, where the poet Codrus, and his wife, were permitted to hire a wretched garret immediately under the tiles. If we adopt the same average, which, under similar circumstances, has been found applicable to Paris,0 and indifferently allow about twenty-five persons for each house, of every degree, we may fairly estimate the inhabitants of Rome at twelve hundred thousand: a number which cannot be thought excessive for the capital of a mighty empire, though it exceeds the populousness of the greatest cities of modern Europe.d
1 Ammi.irms, lib. 14. c. 6. He complains, with decent indignation, that the streets of Rome were filled with crowd* of females, who might have given children to the state, but whoce only occupation was to curl and dress their hair, andjactari tolubilibus gyris, dura exprimunt innumera simulacra, qua e finxcre fabulae thratrales.
'Lipoius (tom. 3. p. 423. deMagnitud. Ilomana, lib. S. c. 3.) and Isaac Vossius, (Olwervat. Var. p. 26—34.) have indulged strange dreams of four, or eight, or fourteen millions in Rome. Mr. Hume, (Kesaya, vol. 1. p. 450—457.) with admirable good sense and scepticism, betrays some secret disposition to extenuate the po» pilousness of ancient times.
1 Olympiodor. ap. Phot. p. 197. See Fabricius, Bibl. Grace, tom. 9. p. 400,
11n ea autem majestate urbis, et civiuminliniia frequentiiin numerabiles habitationes opusfuit explicate. Ergo cum recipere non posset area plana tantam raultitudinem in urbe, ad auxilium aJtiimlinis aedificiorumres ipsa coegit devenire. Vitruv. 2. 8. This passage, which I owe to Vossius, is clear, strong, and comprehensive.
• The successive testimonies of Pliny, Aristides, Claudian, Rutilius, &c. prove the insufficiency of these restrictive edicts. See Lipsius, de Magnitnd. Romans, lib. 3. c. 4.
Tabulatatibi jam tertia fumant
Tu nescis; nam si gradibus trepidatur ab imis
1 Read the whole third satire, but particularly 166.223, &c. The description of a crowned insula, or lodging-house, in Petromus, (c. 95. 97.) perfectly tallies with the complaints of Juvenal; and we leam from legal authority, that in the time of Augustus, (Heineccius, Hist. Juris. Roman, c. 4. p. 181.) the ordinary rent of the several ctcnacula, or apartments of an tiuula, annually produced forty thousand sesterces, between three and four hundred pounds sterling; (Pandect. lib. 19. tit. 9. no. 3O.) a sum which proves at once the large extent, and high value, of those common buildings.
Tint- siege Such was the state of Rome, under the reign Ae^eisf of Honorius; at the time when the Gothic army A.d. 408. formed the siege,' or rather the blockade of the city. By a skilful disposition of his numerous forces, who impatiently watched the moment of an assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the twelve principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tyber, from which the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of provisions. The first emotions of the nobles, and of the people, were those of surprise and indignation, that a vile barbarian should dare to insult the capital of the world: but their arrogance was soon humbled by misfortune; and their unmanly rage, instead of being 'directed against an enemy in arms, was meanly exercised on a defenceless and innocent victim. Perhaps in the person of Serena, the Romans might have respected the niece of Theodosius, the aunt, nay even the adopted mother, of the reigning emperor: but they abhorred the widow of Stilicho; and they listened with credulous passion to the tale of calumny, which accused her of maintaining a secret and criminal correspondence with the Gothic invader. Actuated, or overawed, by the same popular frenzy, the senate, without requiring any evidence of her guilt, pronounced the sentence of her death. Serena was ignominiously strangled; and the infatuated multitude were astonished to find, that this cruel act of injustice did not immediately produce the retreat of the barbarians, and the deliverance of the city. That unfortunate city gradually experienced the distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid calamities of famine. The daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one-half, to one-third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable to purchase the necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity of the rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated' by the humanity of Laeta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had fixed her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the indigent, the princely revenue, which she annually received
"This sum total is composed of one thousand seven hundred and,eighty domuti or great houses, forty-six thousand six hundred and two instil* or plebeian habitations; (see Nardini, Roma Antica, lib. 3. p. 88.) and these numbers are ascertained by the agreement of the texts of the different notitin. Nardini, lib. 8. p. 498500.
c See that accurate writer, M. de Messance, Recherches sur la Population, p. 175 —187. From probable, or certain grounds, he assigns to Paris, twenty-three thouland five hundred and sixty-fire houses, seventy-one thousand one hundred and fourteen families, and five hundred and seventy-six thousand six hundred and thirty inhabitants.
d This computation is not very different from that which M. Brotier, the last editor of Tacitus, (tom. 2. p. 580.) has assumed from similar principles; though ie teems to aim at a degree of precision, which at is neither possible nor important to obtain.
• For the events of the first siege of Rome, which are often confounded with those of the second and third, see /osimus, lib. 5. p. 350. 354. Sozomen, lib. 9. 1 - 6. Olympiodorus, ap. Phot. p. 180. Philostorgi us, lib. 12. c. 3. and Godefroy, Diiertat. p. 467—*75.
VOL. IV. I