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CHAPTER XXXI. THE AGE OF AUGUSTUS —ASPECTS OF ITS CIVILISATION
EMPIRE IS PEACE"Then battles o'er the world shall cease,
PEACE was the price for which Rome consented to the supremacy of Augustus; his successors, too, really followed a policy of peace. There was not a complete absence of conquests either in the reign of Augustus or of those who came after him, as for instance Trajan. But these predatory wars were chiefly directed to the defence and protection of the older possessions. If we compare the conquests of the republic in five centuries with those of the empire in four we shall clearly see how the republic hastened from one conquest to another, while the object of the empire was to preserve and fortify itself. "Empire is peace" — this watchword, so often abused, was truly expressive of the work of Augustus in battles both at home and abroad. Caesar had made war of necessity. His was not the nature of the warrior prince; on the contrary it was as the prince of peace that he loved to be celebrated. When the civil war had come to an end the army was considerably reduced and the superfluous legions were simply discharged. Ciesar had often suffered, and others had suffered more than he, from the insolence and unbridled passions of an army which felt itself master of the situation; the termination of the civil wars was to put an end to all this. From henceforward he no more addressed his troops as comrades but simply as soldiers, and allowed the princes of his house to use no other manner of address. The bodyguard of foreign mercenaries hitherto maintained by him was discharged and replaced by home troops. The joy at the termination of the civil wars was universal and in nearly every case genuine. Exceptional circumstances and wars at home as well as abroad had gone to make up the history of the past twenty years; during this time a generation had grown up whose only knowledge of lasting peace was derived from hearsay, as if from the all but silent notes of some legend [30B.C.-H A.D.]
sung in a better day now long past. Those who within the last decade had saved or won anything were eager to rejoice in it. All panted for peace, with no less sincerity than exhausted Europe after the wars between 1790 and 1815, and all were ready to greet as lord of the world the victor who should restore this golden age. This general yearning for peace found expression in the shutting of the doors of Janus, which was decreed by the senate in order to give a visible proof that the period of war was at an end (JEmeid VII, 607):"Two gates there stand of War — 'twas so Our fathers named them long ago — The war god's terrors round them spread An atmosphere of sacred dread. A hundred bolts the entrance guard, And Janus there keeps watch and ward." Any one who chanced to be in France when the Prussian War closed and heard the bells ringing out peace from the church towers will not easily underrate the impressiveness of this symbolism. Caesar indeed attached all the greater importance to the decree of the senate ordering the doors of Janus to be shut, in that the senate had rarely gone to such lengths. Two centuries had passed since the last occasion in which the temple of Janus was closed. When the First Punic War with all its losses and changing fortunes had finally been concluded to the advantage of Rome, exhausted as she was, she had yet joyfully permitted the performance of these ancient ceremonies which were supposed to date back to King Numa. To this precedent the senate had recourse when in 29 B.C. it ordered the closing of the temple of Janus. The proceeding would have been most impressive had the threefold triumph been terminated with this symbol of peace. This, however, was not in the power of the senate to grant, for its decree had probably been passed at the beginning of the year; there was danger in delay, for the sudden outbreak of a border war or a rebellion might make its performance impossible. To be accurate we must admit that there was not an absolute cessation of warfare; for the Romans had still to contend with the natives on the German border and in Spain at a time like this in which all resistance had to be broken. But little account was made of such trifles, so great was the promise expected from the impression that the closing of the temple of Janus would create. Even Cicero, so tell the later accounts at all events, seems to have recognised in the young Caius Octavius, who had been born during his consulate, the man who would put an end to the civil wars; later on, when the Sicilian war had been concluded, a statue was reared to Caesar with an inscription to him as prince of peace; now at last after the battle of Actium the dream was to turn into reality. What was so yearningly hoped for was pointed out in the premonitions of the gods; even the trophies of victory turned into weapons for peace. Bees made their nests in the trophies taken at the battle of Actium (Anthol. Palat. VI, 236):"Here brazen beaks, the galley's harness, lie, Trophies of Actium's famed victory, But bees have built within the hollow arms, With honey filled, and blithe with buzzing swarms; Emblem of Caesar's sway, that, calm and wise, Culls fruits of peace from arms of enemies."
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The whole world was refreshed, and breathed as if a great load had been lifted from its shoulders. The Asiatic towns in particular offered thanks to the peace-bringer in their inflated hyperbolical fashion which was nevertheless genuine and heartfelt. Halicarnassus celebrated him as " father of the fatherland," and as "saviour of the whole race of man, whose wisdom has not only satisfied but also exceeded the prayers of all; for peace reigns over land and water, and the states flourish in righteousness, harmony, and well-being. All the good waxes full ripe and turns to fruit." In a decree of the town Apamea we read that Caesar was born for the salvation of the whole world; so his birthday may rightly be termed the beginning of life and of existence.
We may see how general and how hearty was the rejoicing over the restoration of peace throughout the world from the fact that Pax and Irene now became names not only of slaves and freedmen of the imperial house, but also of members of other distinguished families. From the agnomen Pax was even formed a surname Paxsaeus.
Trade and industry revived and prosperity increased from the time when the armed peace and the civil wars had come to an end. The whole earth in all its compass experienced once more, after long distress, the blessings of enduring peace, and did honour to the prince of peace, conveying thanks for this new fortune by the erection of temples and altars to the glory of the imperial peace. On the Greek and Latin coins of this period too we see the goddess of peace; in Asia Minor for example on the coins of Cos and Nicomedia. Even the veterans of the emperor stamped on their colonial coins PA —CIS with the picture of the goddess of peace bearing the features of Livia or Julia. On other coins the emperor is celebrated both as prince of peace and of liberty; the later ones speak even of an eternal peace. One of the Spanish veteran colonies introduced even the name of Pax Julia j on their coins we see enthroned a fully draped female figure holding a horn of plenty in her left hand and a herald's staff in her right.
This official worship of peace was continued throughout the whole reign of the emperor. One of the greatest honours devised by the senate and accepted by the emperor was the state-directed dedication of an altar of peace in the year 13 B.C. To-day we may still see on fine reliefs of the time of Augustus the group of peoples, in garments of ceremony and crowned with laurels, confronting the ruler on his return home. These provide us with the best picture of the national scenes in the streets of the capital when men were expecting the triple triumph of Caesar.
"To thy blest altar, Peace, our song must tend
COMPARISON BETWEEN AUGUSTUS AND NAPOLEON III
Altogether there is a striking resemblance between these two rulers and their times, although Napoleon III cannot be compared with Augustus so far as their offices are concerned. On their first appearance on the scene both wer.e underrated by their opponents and laughed at on account of their youth or their lack of understanding: Cicero joked about "the boy"; [30 B.C.-U A.D.]
Victor Hugo mocked at Napoleon the little. Both lived in periods when their nation was stirred to the innermost depths by civil war and revolution, in the confusion of which practically all landed property had changed owners; in Italy through the proscriptions of the triumvirs and the distribution of land to the veterans, in France through the confiscation of the property of the clergy, through the sale of estates of the nobility, combined with the mismanagement of the assignatg in the first revolution, while there was fear of fresh changes through some future social revolution. The man who offered present occupiers guarantees for their occupation and against the return of the previous confusion was honoured as the saviour of society; upon him the nation poured its thanks for the economic revival of the country and for increasing well-being during a long succession of peaceful years. Upon this firm basis was reared the throne of the new rulers, neither of whom claimed to be a legitimate monarch. Both had with more or less right acquired a dictatorial power which they understood how to wield throughout many years, until at length a moment came when they made up their minds to a partial renunciation of authority. This was the critical moment that decided the fate of the rulers and their work, for everything depended on the choice of the moment and the extent of the concessions. Here the penetrating vision and the statesmanlike ability of Augustus are seen to surpassing advantage, while Napoleon, who only made up his mind after long hesitation, took his hand from the tiller reluctantly, only to see very speedily with what scant success his ship battled against the overpowering torrent and was driven helplessly nearer and nearer the destruction that threatened it. The rule of Augustus as well as that of Napoleon III was a tyranny in the good sense of the word; neither the one nor the other lacked the drop of democratic oil with which the ruler was anointed. Both wanted to be assured that their high place was secure only because of its necessity to the state. Again and again Augustus restored his power (to all appearances at least) to the senate, to receive it again, but only for a definite number of years; and even in the case of Napoleon III, it was a polite official fiction that his power had been delegated to him by the nation in the first year of his reign and was even in his last year confirmed by a plebiscite. If they challenged a crisis of this kind, both held the reins of government firmly in their hands, nor did any one seriously believe that they would have allowed this power to be wrested from them by a vote unfavourable to them. That the Roman senate and the French people were repeatedly confronted with this crisis, shows clearly what value those rulers attached to this right. Both rulers had thrust aside the higher classes of society which had hitherto guided the state in its course, in order to derive their support from the broad masses of the lower classes and the army. The immense presents made by Augustus to his soldiers and to the population of his chief town prove that in the well-being and content of this very class he rightly recognised the real support of his institutions. In similar fashion Napoleon III took pre-eminent care for the material welfare of France, which reached an unprecedented level under his rule. Neither ruler confined his liberality to what was absolutely necessary; they also lent support to art and science in remarkable ways. Architecture is an art for monarchs, and architecture was the art of Augustus and of Napoleon III. Modern Paris is really the work of Napoleon III, and so, too, it was the boast of Augustus that he had taken over Rome a city of n. w. — Vol. vi. o
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bricks but had left it a city of marble. In the literary efforts of their times both rulers took at least the share of dilettanti. Each of them, in order to neglect no part of his inheritance, not only collected the literary relics of his uncle but also defended in writing his actions as emperor. Without mentioning the smaller literary essays of either, we may note that Augustus sought to defend himself in his memoirs, while Napoleon III in his history of Julius Caesar sought far less to write the history of Caesar than to defend the principle of Ciesarism.
The worship of the uncle to whose popularity they owed the crown — in the one case the worship of the dictator, in the other that of Napoleon I — impresses its character on the reign of both rulers. In particular, the
now relieved him of the duty of making war upon the redoubtable enemy. In the same way Napoleon III loved to increase his reputation in Europe and in his army by conducting wars which, even if they ended badly, could not shake his throne nor France itself. A war over the boundaries of the Rhine was as popular in France as a Parthian war under Augustus, but also as dangerous. For this reason Napoleon III made several attempts to attain the fruits of such a war by peaceable means and only proceeded to a declaration of war when he had convinced himself that there was no prospect of success in such attempts. In a word, then as now the statesman succeeded the general, the prince of peace the warrior prince, nor did the former despise military glory; only he preferred to decorate himself with the laurels plucked from his uncle's wreath. Augustus, no less than Napoleon III, reckoned it as of the very essence of the services he did to the world that he had put an end to the period of warfare at home and abroad. Just as Napoleon III, in the character of saviour of society, pronounced the dictum, "I?Empire cest la paix" so Augustus caused himself to be celebrated as the restorer of order and liberty, whose privilege it was thrice to shut the doors of Janus and to inaugurate a new era of things.