The Romans who conquered the Greeks were not “gentlemen” like Cicero〖H. C., xii, 218.〗 and Cæsar〖H. C., xii, 264.〗 and their contemporaries of a hundred and fifty years later. Their temper is only partially revealed in Plutarch’s “Coriolanus,”〖H. C., xii, 147.〗 in which a legend—which, however, the Romans and Greeks of Plutarch’s time (46-125 A. D.) believed to be a fact—is made to illustrate the alleged uncompromising character of their political struggles and the lofty virtues of their domestic life. In fact, they had many of the qualities of Iroquois, and when they took by storm a hostile city, their soldiers—uncultured peasants, once the iron bonds of discipline were relaxed—often slew every living thing which came in their way: men, women, children, and even animals. The world was not subdued by Rome with rosewater or modern humanitarian methods.

Five generations later the Italians were in a fair way to being Hellenized, so powerful had been the reaction of the eastern provinces upon them in the interval. During this epoch of rapid denationalization, the Roman aristocracy, which had guided the state first to internal harmony, then to stable leadership in Italy, and finally to world-empire, became divided against itself. The empire had nurtured a stock of contractors, money lenders, grain and slave dealers—the so-called equestrian order—which pushed the great landed proprietors, who constituted the senate, from position to position; wrested from them control of the provinces which it then pillaged most outrageously, and helped on the paralysis of government from which the rule of the emperors was the only escape. The youth of Cicero coincided with the suicidal strife between the agrarian and the commercial wings of the aristocracy. Cicero, being a “new man,” had to attach himself to great personages like Pompey, in order to make his way in politics, so that his political course and his political views were both “wobbly”; but he had at least one fixed policy, that the “harmony of the orders” must be restored at all costs.〖See Cicero’s “Letters” in Harvard Classics, ix, 79.〗 This, however, was impracticable.

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