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the Roman Empire, but very much at the mercy of the governors of the provinces within which they geographically lay.
But they still were commonwealths, though dependent or even subject commonwealths. Their senates, assemblies, or other ruling bodies, had practically sunk to the functions of town-councils, and they were open, in a way in which an English town-council is not, to the caprice of an external power. But they were town-councils which had been sovereign parliaments. Some of them were in theory sovereign parliaments still. And even those which were furthest from that character, the councils of those towns which were neither 'free and allied states nor Roman colonies nor in any way privileged above the general provincial relation, had not wholly lost their original character. Deep into the time of the Empire, the old character of the Roman dominion, that of a city ruling over other cities, still left its traces. In such a state of things the authority of the councils or assemblies of the subject states might practically be smaller than that of the town-council of an English borough. That is, the assembly might be afraid of acting in any matter of importance without the leave of the central power or its representative. It might practically confine its action to matters of routine and ceremony, at most to votes of honours and setting of up statues, because any bolder action would awaken Roman jealousy. That is to say, the free and allied state could in theory do everything, even the provincial town could in theory do many things, according to its own free will. But long generations of submission to an irresistible neighbour had taught it not to exercise that free will except according to the higher will of the power which was supreme over all. If the rights of the subordinate state became formal or even null, it was because they were wide and indefinite ; they were the powers of a community which still kept a distinct being, but which was placed under the irresistible influence, sometimes under the direct dominion, of a stronger community. This is a position altogether different from that of a town or district in a modern kingdom or commonwealth where every part of the land has equal rights. In such a kingdom or commonwealth, whatever powers, great or small, this or that board or council has, are the grant of the law of the land. As long as those powers are exercised according to the law of the land, no administrative interference is to be feared ; if the law is broken, if the local authority steps beyond its legal powers, the wrong will be made good, not by an arbitrary will, but by a legal process. It was wholly different with the cities of which we speak, whether free, dependent, or subject; they were still separate commonwealths with inherent rights, even if those rights could no longer be exercised ; their assemblies had once been parliaments, and to both the forms and the feelings of parliaments they still clave. And one city at least among the allies
of Rome kept its substantial freedom down to an age when many fancy that the Roman power itself had altogether vanished from the earth. The freedom of Chersốn was overthrown, not by Mummius in the second century on one side, not by Vespasian in the first century on the other, but by the Amorian Theophilos in days when the Frank already wore the Imperial crown of the West. Till that day the last of the Greek commonwealths lived on its ancient life, and for the simplest of reasons. Not only the Emperor himself, but the proconsul of Achaia, of Macedonia, or of Asia, could at any moment encroach on, the Emperor could at any moment destroy, the freedom of any Greek city that lay geographically within those provinces. He had always the physical power to encroach or to destroy ; not uncommonly he had the will. But the 'commonwealth which lay far away in the Tauric Chersonêsos stood in another case. The faithful ally could not be changed into the helpless subject except by the same kind of effort which would have been needed for a Gothic or a Persian war.
The long abiding independence of Cherson is a fact to which I have often had occasion to call attention from other points of view. So is the independence of the Lykian League, though the geographical position of that power caused its freedom to come to an end eight hundred
years sooner than the freedom of Cherson. I have elsewhere spoken of that League as perhaps the best example that the elder day could show of a federal constitution ;* it concerns me now as an example of the degree of independence which a considerable territory could keep under the general supremacy of Rome, from the fall of Perseus to the reign of Claudius. For the story of its origin we have to go to the narrative, unhappily fragmentary, which Polybios gives of the events which led to the deliverance of Lykia from Rhodian rule ;t for a full account of its constitution we have only to turn to the description of Strabo. I It is specially instructive when the geographer tells that the League still kept the right of war and peace, though, he adds,in his day that right could not be exercised at all, or could be exercised only as Rome thought fit. After reading this, it is certainly curious to read the comment of a recent scholar who thinks that the powers of the League and the measure of its indepeudence were something like those of the city of London.|| A nearer analogy might surely be found in the relations in which many of the smaller powers of Europe stood not very long back; it is not very unlike that in which some of them stand at this moment. The position of Lykia towards Rome is very like that in which various Italian and German states stood towards Austria thirty years back. It is very like that in which Servia at this moment stands to Austria and Montenegro to Russia. It is in short the position of a "protected” state, whether the protection be avowed or only practical. But there is this important difference. A protected state now has at least some voice in choosing its protector. And a small state may even keep perfect independence without any protector at all, simply through the jealousies of the greater powers. A small state may now live on in perfect freedom surrounded by powers stronger than itself. Any one of them could at any moment put an end to its freedom; but none of them is likely to make the attempt, because the others, for their own ends, will not allow it. But Rome stood alone in the world ; there was no choice of protectors; whatever independence was left was held only by Roman sufferance. Whenever it suited Roman policy or caprice to extinguish the independence of any state, the thing was done.
* History of Federal Government, i. 208.
$ και περί πολέμου δε και ειρήνης και συμμαχίας έβουλεύοντο πρότερον, νύν δ' ουκ εικός, αλλ' επί τους Ρωμαίοις ταύτ' ανάγκη κείσθαι, πλήν ει εκείνων επιτρεψάντων ή υπέρ αυτών είη χρήσιμον. That is to say, the right had never been formally taken away, only it practically could not be exercised.
|| In writing this article I have had several times in my thoughts a controversy on “Zome Rule under the Roman Empire," which will be found in two numbers of Macmillon's Magazine for November 1882 and March 1883. This controversy is instructive in many ways, specially as showing how utterly, and how contentedly, large parts of Roman history and Roman literature may be passed by, even by a scholar who enjoys a high repute in other branches of those subjects. The comparison between the Lykian League and the city of London comes from the second of the two articles. Its autbor could hardly have read the description of the League in Strabo.
The Lykian League, as embracing a considerable territory, has, from its geographical side, more in common with the kingdoms and principalities which lived on under Roman vassalage, than with the single city-commonwealths which supply the examples which most naturally occur to us. It must have been beyond the power of any single proconsul in a peaceful time seriously to interfere with the liberties of Lykia. It is true that the federal states of Greece still lived on for Pausanias to see them at work; and two generations earlier the sacred convocation of the Amphiktyons had drawn a new life from the measure of redistribution ordained by the Emperor Augustus. * But we may be sure that no confederation of old Greece kept anything like such a measure of political life as that which Strabo saw at work in Lykia. What little life there still was in the Greek world abode in the single cities, and there was doubtless more life among the Greek cities of Asia than in those of old Greece. Of Lykia in Strabo’s day we have only Strabo's general description ; we have no detailed illustrations of the working of the political system; least of all have we any speeches, any letters, any political treatises, either from Lykian orators or philosophers or from Roman magistrates who had dealings with the Lykian League or any of its cities. Let us leap on to the age of Trajan, and we shall find that that
See History of Federal Government, i. 136.
is rich in materials for the political life of the Achaian and Bithynian provinces and of the free cities which lay within their geographical boundaries. We have four highly instructive contemporary writers, two Greek and two Latin, one of the latter being the renowned Emperor himself. We have from Plutarch a treatise on the duties of a Greek statesman of his day. We have from Diôn Chrysostom several speeches actually delivered in the assemblies of Greek cities in the reign of Trajan. We have the correspondence of Trajan himself with the younger Pliny when Pliny was proconsul of Bithynia. We thus get two sides of the picture. We see how things looked in the eyes of two literary Greeks, one of whom to be sure was bound to make the best of things and to make his rhetoric as acceptable as he could to his Greek hearers. We see also how things looked in the eyes of two official Romans, an Emperor and a proconsul who were among the very best of their several classes, but whose very virtues laid them open to one special temptation. Both Trajan and Pliny utterly loathed oppression and wrong of every kind, and they sincerely sought the welfare of all for whose welfare they were responsible. But for that very reason they were more likely to be led to constant meddling with the affairs of their subjects than rulers who might now and then be guilty of some gross piece of tyranny, but who would commonly leave people alone in the time between one act of oppression and another. The colouring on the Greek and on the Roman side is very different; but the main outlines are the same in both pictures. In both cases we see cities which keep much which in some cases keep everything-of the outward show of free commonwealths, but which do not dare to exercise their powers, even in very small matters, without the knowledge and good will of the Roman prince or his local representative.
The political treatise of the wise and kindly Plutarch* is one which cannot be read without sadness. To a Greek, a Baotian, living in a land which had once been so great and which was so utterly fallen, the contrast between what had been and what was came more keenly home than it could have come home to his Asiatic contemporary. The cities of Diôn's native Bithynia had never been so great in the past, and they were far more prosperous in the present, than the cities for whose would-be statesmen and orators the sage of Chairôneia had to give rules. But in both writers we find things looked at from the same general point of view. Local independence is assumed as the state of things which exists at least in theory. We read page after page of both Plutarch and Diôn without any hint that the commonwealths of which they were speaking had any superior beyond their own walls. Both write in a way in which no one would
His Iloletikà Ilaparyé Auata, commonly quoted as Reipublicæ Gerendæ Præcepta.
write for the instruction of a newly-chosen town-councillor in a modern state. It is for parliaments, not for town-councils, that the whole language is fitted. But ever and anon. we come to some passage which shows us that the parliaments with which we are dealing are parliaments working in fetters, parliaments which can practically do nothing without the approval of a foreign superior. In our own land we find the nearest parallel in ecclesiastical bodies, and the likeness is increased by the fact that the range within which the Greek assemblies of that day were most active was that which concerned religious worship and that large class of subjects which in Greek ideas were connected with religious worship. A Convocation organized like a Parliament, carrying on its debates as freely as a Parliament, but whose acts go for nothing unless they have the licence of the Crown beforehand and the consent of the Crown afterwards, a Convocation which, without ever being suppressed, without ever having its formal meetings interrupted, could be practically suspended for a hundred and fifty years, has far more likeness to one of these Greek assemblies than can be found in a local body whose powers are narrowly defined, but which can freely exercise such powers as it has.
We have another parallel in the Chapter electing its Bishop, electing him freely according to all outward look, but whose choice not only needs the approval of the Crown, but is actually dictated beforehand by the Crown, under heavy penalties if that dictation is not obeyed.* We read several chapters of Plutarch which might have been written for any Greek commonwealth in days before either the later or the former Philip. Presently we feel that the Roman has entered into the Greek world by the mention of certain demagogues who corrupted the people by shows of gladiators.t But, for anything in that or in several following chapters, the commonwealths so corrupted might have been as independent as when earlier demagogues were said to have corrupted their countrymen by allurements of other kinds, We go on further, and the full truth comes out. The Greek commonwealths of Plutarch's day had no longer anything to do with wars, with alliances, with putting down of tyrants, and some might think that in such a state of things there was no room for statesmanship left. Plutarch thought otherwise ; there were still public trials at home; there were embassies to be sent to the Emperor; there were dealings with Roman governors, possibly with bad governors. These things needed some qualifications; energy, daring, discretion, were all needed by those who
* A still closer parallel might have been found up to the present reign, as long as the Deans of the churches of the Old Foundation were chosen by the Chapters. By longstanding custom a nominee of the Crown was always chosen, though there was not, as in the case of the election of Bishops, any legal obligation so to do.
* C. 5. ή του βαλανείου διδόντες ή πυρρίχας τινας ή μονομάχων θεάματα παρασκευάζοντες αεί δημαγωγούσι, μάλλον δε δημοκοπούσι.