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And far away the battle

Went roaring through the pass.


Sempronius Atratinus

Sate in the Eastern Gate.
Beside him were three Fathers,

Each in his chair of state;
Fabius, whose nine stout grandsons
That day were in the field,
And Manlius, eldest of the Twelve
Who keep the Golden Shield;
And Sergius, the High Pontiff,
For wisdom far renowned;
In all Etruria's colleges

Was no such Pontiff found.

And all around the portal,
And high above the wall,
Stood a great throng of people,
But sad and silent all;
Young lads, and stooping elders
That might not bear the mail,
Matrons with lips that quivered,

And maids with faces pale.
Since the first gleam of daylight,
Sempronius had not ceased
To listen for the rushing

Of horse-hoofs from the east. The mist of eve was rising,

The sun was hastening down,

When he was aware of a princely pair
Fast pricking towards the town.
So like they were, man never

Saw twins so like before;
Red with gore their armour was,
Their steeds were red with gore.


"Hail to the great Asylum! Hail to the hill-tops seven!

Hail to the fire that burns for aye,

And the shield that fell from heaven!

This day, by Lake Regillus,

Under the Porcian height,

All in the lands of Tusculum

Was fought a glorious fight. To-morrow your Dictator

Shall bring in triumph home The spoils of thirty cities

To deck the shrines of Rome!"


Then burst from that great concourse
A shout that shook the towers,

And some ran north, and some ran south,
Crying, "The day is ours!"

But on rode these strange horsemen,
With slow and lordly pace;

And none who saw their bearing
Durst ask their name or race.
On rode they to the Forum,

While laurel-boughs and flowers, From housetops and from windows, Fell on their crests in showers. When they drew nigh to Vesta,

They vaulted down amain, And washed their horses in the well That springs by Vesta's fane. And straight again they mounted, And rode to Vesta's door; Then, like a blast, away they passed, And no man saw them more.


And all the people trembled,
And pale grew every cheek;
And Sergius the High Pontiff

Alone found voice to speak: "The Gods who live forever

Have fought for Rome to-day!
These be the Great Twin Brethren
To whom the Dorians pray.
Back comes the Chief in triumph,
Who, in the hour of fight,

Hath seen the Great Twin Brethren
In harness on his right.
Safe comes the ship to haven,

Through billows and through gales
If once the Great Twin Brethren
Sit shining on the sails.
Wherefore they washed their horses
In Vesta's holy well,
Wherefore they rode to Vesta's door,
I know, but may not tell.
Here, hard by Vesta's temple,
Build we a stately dome
Unto the Great Twin Brethren
Who fought so well for Rome.
And when the months returning
Bring back this day of fight,
The proud Ides of Quintilis,

Marked evermore with white,
Unto the Great Twin Brethren
Let all the people throng,
With chaplets and with offerings,
With music and with song;
And let the doors and windows

Be hung with garlands all,
And let the Knights be summoned
To Mars without the wall:
Thence let them ride in purple
With joyous trumpet-sound,
Each mounted on his war-horse,
And each with olive crowned;
And pass in solemn order

Before the sacred dome,

Where dwell the Great Twin Brethren Who fought so well for Rome."


of the Patrician money-lenders. Children often became slaves in consequence of the misfor tunes of their parents. The debtor was imprisoned, not in a public jail under the care of impartial public functionaries, but in a private workhouse belonging to the creditor. Frightful stories were told respecting these dungeons. It was said that torture and brutal violation were common; that tight stocks, heavy chains, scanty measures of food, were used to punish wretches guilty of nothing but poverty; and that brave soldiers, whose breasts were covered with honourable scars, were often mark

A COLLECTION Consisting exclusively of warsongs would give an imperfect, or rather an erroneous notion of the spirit of the old Latin ballads. The Patricians, during about a century and a half after the expulsion of the kings, held all the high military commands. A Plebeian, even though, like Lucius Siccius, he were distinguished by his valour and knowledge of war, could serve only in subordinate posts. A minstrel, therefore, who wished to celebrate the early triumphs of his country, could hardly take any but Patricians for his heroes. The warriors who are mentioned in the two preceding lays, Horatius, Lartius, Her-ed still more deeply on the back by the scourges minius, Aulus Posthumius, butius Elva, Sempronius Atratinus, Valerius Poplicola, were all members of the dominant order; and a poet who was singing their praises, whatever his own political opinions might be, would naturally abstain from insulting the class to which they belonged, and from reflecting on the sys-able though not proportioned to their numerical tem which had placed such men at the head of the legions of the commonwealth.

of high-born usurers.

The Plebeians were, however, not wholly without constitutional rights. From an early period they had been admitted to some share of political power. They were enrolled in the centuries, and were allowed a share, consider

strength, in the disposal of those high dignities from which they were themselves excluded. Thus their position bore some resemblance to that of the Irish Catholics during the interval between the year 1792 and the year 1829. The Plebeians had also the privilege of annually appointing officers, named Tribunes, who had no active share in the government of the Commonwealth, but who, by degrees, acquired a power which made them formidable even to the ablest and most resolute Consuls and Dietators. The person of the Tribune was inviola ble; and, though he could directly effect little, he could obstruct every thing.

But there was a class of compositions in which the great families were by no means so courteously treated. No parts of early Roman history are richer with poetical colouring than those which relate to the long contest between the privileged houses and the commonalty. The population of Rome was, from a very early period, divided into hereditary castes, which, indeed, readily united to repel foreign enemies, but which regarded each other, during many years, with bitter animosity. Between those castes there was a barrier hardly less strong than that which, at Venice, parted the mem- During more than a century after the institubers of the Great Council from their country-tion of the Tribuneship, the Commons strugmen. In some respects indeed, the line which separated an Icilius or a Duilius from a Posthumius or a Fabius was even more deeply marked than that which separated the rower of a gondola from a Contarini or a Morosini. At Venice the distinction was merely civil. At Rome it was both civil and religious. Among the grievances under which the Plebeians suffered three were felt as peculiarly severe. They were excluded from the highest magistracies; they were excluded from all share in the public lands; and they were ground down to the dust by partial and barbarous legislation touching pecuniary contracts. The ruling class in Rome was a moneyed class; and it made and administered the laws with a view solely to its own interest. Thus the relation | between lender and borrower was mixed up with the relation between sovereign and sub ject. The great men held a large portion of the community in dependence by means of advances at enormous usury. The law of debt, framed by creditors, and for the protection of craitors, was the most horrible that has ever been known among men. The liberty, and even the life, of the insoivent were at the mercy

gled manfully for the removal of grievances under which they laboured; and, in spite of many checks and reverses, succeeded in wringing concession after concession from the stubborn aristocracy. At length, in the year of the city 378, both parties mustered their whole strength for their last and most desperate conflict. The popular and active Tribune, Caius Licinius, proposed the three memorable laws which are called by his name, and which were intended to redress the three great evils of which the Plebeians complained. He was supported, with eminent ability and firmness, by his colleague, Lucius Sextius. The strug gle appears to have been the fiercest that ever in any community terminated without an appeal to arms. If such a contest had raged in any Greek city, the streets would have run with blood. But, even in the paroxysms of faction, the Roman retained his gravity, his respect for law, and his tenderness for the lives of his fellow-citizens. Year after year Licinius and Sextius were re-elected Tribunes. Year after year, if the narrative which has come down to us is to be trusted, they continued to exert, to the full extent, their power of stopping

the whole machine of government. No curule | truth, naturally from the constitution of the magistrates could be chosen; no military mus- Roman government and from the spirit of the ter could be held. We know too little of the Roman people; and, though it submitted to state of Rome in those days to be able to con- metrical rules derived from Greece, it retained jecture how, during that long anarchy, the to the last its essentially Roman character. Lupeace was kept, and ordinary justice adminis- cilius was the earliest satirist whose works tered between man and man. The animosity were held in esteem under the Cæsars. But, of both parties rose to the greatest height. The many years before Lucilius was born, Nævius excitement, we may well suppose, would have had been flung into a dungeon, and guarded been peculiarly intense at the annual election there with circumstances of unusual rigour of Tribunes. On such occasions there can be till the Tribunes interfered in his behalf, on little doubt that the great families did all that account of the bitter lines in which he had atcould be done, by threats and caresses, to tacked the great Cæcilian family.* The ge. break the union of the Plebeians. That union, nius and spirit of the Roman satirists survived however, proved indissoluble. At length the the liberties of their country, and were not exgood cause triumphed. The Licinian laws tinguished by the cruel despotism of the Julian were carried. Lucius Sextius was the first and Flavian emperors. The great poet who Plebeian Consul, Caius Licinius the third. told the story of Domitian's turbot was the legitimate successor of those forgotten minstrels whose songs animated the factions of the infant Republic.


Those minstrels, as Niebuhr has remarked, appear to have generally taken the popular side. We can hardly be mistaken in suppos ing that, at the great crisis of the civil conflict, they employed themselves in versifying all the most powerful and virulent speeches of the Tribunes, and in heaping abuse on the chief's of the aristocracy. Every personal defect, every domestic scandal, every tradition dis honourable to a noble house, would be sought

The results of this great change were singularly happy and glorious. Two centuries of prosperity, harmony, and victory followed the reconciliation of the orders. Men who remembered Rome engaged in waging petty wars almost within sight of the Capitol lived to see her the mistress of Italy. While the disabilities of the Plebeians continued, she was scarcely able to maintain her ground against the Volscians and Hernicans. When those disabilities were removed, she rapidly became more than a match for Carthage and Macedon. During the great Licinian contest the F.e-out, brought into notice, and exaggerated. The beian poets were, doubtless, not silent. Even in modern times songs have been by no means without influence on public affairs; and we may therefore infer, that, in a society where printing was unknown, and where books were rare, a pathetic or humorous party-ballad must have produced fects such as we can but faintly conceive. It is certain that satirical poems were common at Rome from a very early period. The rustics who lived at a distance from the seat of government, and took little part in the strife of factions, gave vent to their petty local animosities in coarse Fescennine verse. The lampoons of the city were doubtless of a higher order; and their sting was early felby the nobility. For in the Twelve Tables, long before the time of the Licinian laws, a severe punishment was denounced against the citizen who should compose or recite verses reflecting on another. Satire is, indeed, the only sort of composition in which the Latin poets, whose works have come down to us, were not mere imitators of foreign models; and it is therefore the only sort of composition in which they had never been rivalled. It was not, like their tragedy, their comedy, their epic and lyric poetry, a hot-house plant which, in return for assiduous and skilful culture, yielded only scanty and sickly fruits. It was hardy, and full of sap; and in all the various juices which it yielded might be distinguished the flavour of the Ausonian soil. "Satire," said Quintilian, with just pride, “is all our own." It sprang, in

Cicero justly infers from this law that there had been early Latin poets whose works had been lost be fore his time. "Quamquam id quidem etiam xii tabulæ declarant; condi jam tum solitum esse carmen, quod ne liceret fleri ad alterius injuriam lege sanxerunt."Tusc. iv. 2.

illustrious head of the aristocratical party,
Marcus Furius Camillus, might perhaps be, in
some measure, protected by his venerable age
and by the memory of his great services to the
state. But Appius Claudius Crassus enjoyed
no such immunity. He was descended from
a long line of ancestors distinguished by theit
haughty demeanour, and by the inflexibility
with which they had withstood all the demands
of the Plebeian order. While the political con
duct and the deportment of the Claudian no
bles drew upon them the fiercest public hatred,
they were wanting, if any credit is due to the
early history of Rome, in a class of qualities
which, in a military Commonwealth, is suf-
cient to cover a multitude of ‹ffences. Several
of them appear to have been eloquent, versed
in civil business, and learned after the fashion
of their age; but in war they were not distin.
guished by skill or valour. Some of them, as
if conscious where their weakness lay, had,
when filling the highest magistracies, taken
internal administration as their department of
public business, and left the military com
mand to their colleagues. One of them ha
been intrusted with an army, and had failed
ignominiously. None of them had been
honoured with a triumph. None of them had
achieved any martial exploit, such as those by
which Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Titus
Quinctius Capitolinus, Aulus Cornelius Cosas,
and, above all, the great Camillus, had extorted
the reluctant esteem of the multitude. During
the Licinian conflict, Appius Claudius Crassus
signalized himself by the ability and severity
with which he harangued against the two

* Plautus, Miles Gloriosus. Aulus Gellius iii 3
In the years of the city 260, 304, and 330
In the year of the city 282.

great agitators. He would naturally, there- | Tribuneship was re-established; and Appíus fore, be the favourite mark of the Plebeian escaped the hands of the executioner only by satirists; nor would they have been at a loss a voluntary death. to find a point on which he was open to attack.

His grandfather, named like himself, Appius Claudius, had left a name as much detested as that of Sextus Tarquinius. He had been Consul more than seventy years before the introduction of the Licinian laws. By availing himself of a singular crisis in public feeling, he had obtained the consent of the Commons to the abolition of the Tribuneship, and had been the chief of that Council of Ten to which the whole direction of the State had been cominitted. In a few months his administration had become universally odious. It was swept away by an irresistible outbreak of popular fury; and its memory was still held in abhorrence by the whole city. The immediate cause of the downfall of this execrable government was said to have been an attempt made by Appius Claudius on the chastity of a beautful young girl of humble birth. The story ran, that the Decemvir, unable to succeed by bribes and solicitations, resorted to an outrageous act of tyranny. A vile dependant of the Claudian house laid claim to the damsel as his slave. The cause was brought before the tribunal of Appius. The wicked magistrate, in defiance of the clearest proofs, gave judgment for the claimant; but the girl's father, a brave soldier, saved her from servitude and dishonour by stabbing her to the heart in the sight of the whole Forum. That blow was the signal for a general explosion. Camp and city rose at once; the Ten were pulled down; the

It can hardly be doubted that a story so admirably adapted to the purposes both of the poet and of the demagogue would be eagerly seized upon by minstrels burning with hatred against the Patrician order, against the Clandian house, and especially against the grandson and namesake of the infamous Decemvir.

In order that the reader may judge fairly of these fragments of the lay of Virginia, he must imagine himself a Plebeian who has just voted for the re-election of Sextius and Licinius. All the power of the Patricians has been exerted to throw out the two great champions of the Commons. Every Posthumius, Æmilius, and Cornelius has used his influence to the utmost. Debtors have been let out of the workhouses on condition of voting against the men of the people; clients have been posted to hiss and interrupt the favourite candidates; Appius Claudius Crassus has spoken with more than his usual eloquence and asperity; all has been in vain; Licinius and Sextus have a fifth time carried all the tribes; work is suspended; the booths are closed; the Plebeians bear on their shoulders the two champions of liberty through the Forum. Just at this moment it is announced that a popular poet, a zealous adherent of the Tribunes, has made a new song which will cut the Claudian family to the heart. The crowd gathers round him, and calls on him to recite it. He takes his stand on the spot where, according to tradition, Virginia, more than seventy years ago, was seized by the pander of Appius, and he begins his story.





YE good men of the Commons, with loving hearts and true,
Who stand by the bold Tribunes that still have stood by you,
Come, make a circle round me, and mark my tale with care,

A tale of what Rome once hath borne; of what Rome yet may bear.
This is no Grecian fable, of fountains running wine,

Of maids with snaky tresses, or sailors turned to swine.

Here, in this very Forum, under the noonday sun,

In sight of all the people, the bloody deed was done.

Old men still creep among us who saw that fearful day,

Just seventy years and seven ago, when the wicked Ten bare sway.

Of all the wicked Ten still the names are held accursed,
And of all the wicked Ten, Appius Claudius was the worst.
He stalked along the Forum like King Tarquin in his pride:
Twelve axes waited on him, six marching on a side;

The townsmen shrank to right and left, and eyed askance with fear
His lowering brow, his curling mouth which alway seemed to sneer:
That brow of hate, that mouth of scorn, marks all the kindred still;
For never was there Claudius yet but wished the Commons ill:
Nor lacks he fit attendance; for close behind his heels,

With outstretched chin and crouching pace, the client Marcus steals,

His loins girt up to run with speed, be the errand what it may,
And the smile flickering on his cheek, for aught his lord may sav.
Such varlets pimp and jest for hire among the lying Greeks:
Such varlets still are paid to hoot when brave Licinius speaks.
Where'er ye shed the honey, the buzzing flies will crowd;
Where'er ye fling the carrion, the raven's croak is loud;
Where'er down Tiber garbage floats, the greedy pike ye see;
And wheresoe'er such lord is found, such client still will be.

Just then, as through one cloudless chink in a black stormy sky Shines out the dewy morning-star, a fair young girl came by. With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,

Home she went bounding from the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm
And past those dreaded axes she innocently ran,

With bright, frank brow that had not learned to blush at gaze of man;
And up the Sacred Street she turned, and, as she danced along,
She warbled gayly to herself lines of the good old song,
How for a sport the princes came spurring from the camp,
And found Lucrece, combing the fleece, under the midnight lamp.
The maiden sang as sings the lark, when up he darts his flight,
From his nest in the green April corn, to meet the morning light;

And Appius heard her sweet young voice, and saw her sweet young face,
And loved her with the accursed love of his accursed race,

And all along the Forum, and up the Sacred Street,

His vulture eye pursued the trip of those small glancing feet.

Over the Alban mountains the light of morning broke;

From all the roofs of the Seven Hills curled the thin wreaths of smoke: The city gates were opened; the Forum, all alive,

With buyers and with sellers was humming like a hive.

Blithely on brass and timber the craftsman's stroke was ringing,
And blithely o'er her panniers the market-girl was singing,
And blithely young Virginia came smiling from her home:

Ah! wo for young Virginia, the sweetest maid in Rome!

With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,
Forth she went bounding to the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm.
She crossed the Forum shining with stalls in alleys gay,
And just had reached the very spot whereon I stand this day,
When up the varlet Marcus came; not such as when erewhile
He crouched behind his patron's heels with the true client smile:
He came with lowering forehead, swollen features, and clenched fist,
And strode across Virginia's path, and caught her by the wrist.
Hard strove the frighted maiden, and screamed with look aghast;
And at her scream from right and left the folk came running fast;
The money-changer Crispus, with his thin silver hairs,
And Hanno from the stately booth glittering with Punic wares,
And the strong smith Muræna, grasping a half-forged brand,
And Volero the flesher, his cleaver in his hand.

All came in wrath and wonder; for all knew that fair child;
And, as she passed them twice a day, all kissed their hands and smiled;
And the strong smith Muræna gave Marcus such a blow,

The caitiff reeled three paces back, and let the maiden go.

Yet glared he fiercely round him, and growled in harsh, fell tone,
"She's mine, and I will have her. I seek but for mine own:

She is my slave, born in my house, and stolen away and sold,
The year of the sore sickness, ere she was twelve hours old.
"Twas in the sad September, the month of wail and fright,
Two augurs were borne forth that morn; the Consul died ere night.
I wait on Appius Cladius; I waited on his sire:

Let him who works the client wrong, beware the patron's ire !"

So spake the varlet Marcus; and dread and silence came
On all the people at the sound of the great Claudian name.
For then there was no Tribune to speak the word of might,

Which makes the rich man tremble, and guards the poor man's right
There was no brave Licinius, no honest Sextius then;
But all the city, in great fear, obeyed the wicked Ten.
Yet ere the valet Marcus again might seize the maid,

Who clung tight to Muræna's skirt, and sobbed, and shrieked for aid,

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