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But meanwhile in the centre
Great deeds of arms were wrought; There Aulus the Dictator,
And there Valerius fought. Aulus, with his good broadsword, A bloody passage cleared
To where, amidst the thickest foes,
Down Aulus springs to slay him,
Fast down to earth they spring;
A death wound in the face;
The priest of Juno's shrine: Valerius smote down Julius,
So spake he; and was buckling
That rode at his right hand. So like they were, no mortal
Might one from other know: White as snow their armour was: Their steeds were white as snow. Never on earthly anvil
Did such rare armour gleam;
Scarce gathered voice to speak. "Say by what name men call you?
What city is your home? And wherefore ride ye in such guise Before the ranks of Rome?"
By many names men call us; In many lands we dwell: Well Samothracia knows us:
Cyrene knows us well. Our house in gay Tarentum
Is hung each morn with flowers: High o'er the masts of Syracuse Our marble portal towers: But by the proud Eurotas
Is our dear native home; And for the right we come to fight Before the ranks of Rome."
Ho answered those strange horsemen, And each couched low his spear; And forthwith all the ranks of Rome Were bold, and of good cheer: And on the thirty armies
Came wonder and affright,
And Ardea wavered on the left, And Cora on the right. "Rome to the charge!" cried Aulus; "The foe begins to yield! Charge for the hearth of Vesta!
Charge for the Golden Shield!
But slay, and slay, and slay:
Then the fierce trumpet-flourish
The kites know well the long stern swe
Then, like a crag down Apennine,
Still thicker lay the slain; And after those strange horses
Black Auster toiled in vain.
Came rolling on the foe,
So comes the squall, blacker than night,
Swept down the tide of flight.
When the black squall doth blow; So corn-sheaves in the flood-time
Spin down the whirling Po. False Sextus to the mountains
And far away the battle
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!
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,
But on rode these strange horsemen,
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."
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. 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, Sem- of high-born usurers. pronius Atratinus, Valerius Poplicola, were all The Plebeians were, however, not wholly members of the dominant order; and a poet without constitutional rights. From an early who was singing their praises, whatever his period they had been admitted to some share own political opinions might be, would natu- of political power. They were enrolled in the rally abstain from insulting the class to which centuries, and were allowed a share, considerthey belonged, and from reflecting on the sys-able though not proportioned to their numerical tem which had placed such men at the head of strength, in the disposal of those high dignities the legions of the commonwealth. 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 Com monwealth, but who. by degrees, acquired a power which made them formidable even to the ablest and most resolute Consuls and Dicta tors. The person of the Tribune was inviola ble; and, though he could directly effect little, he could obstruct every thing.
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. Fright ful 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
During more than a century after the institu
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 members of the Great Council from their country-tion of the Tribuneship, the Commons strugmen. In some respects indeed, the line which gled manfully for the removal of grievances separated an Icilius or a Duilius from a Post- under which they laboured; and, in spite of humius or a Fabius was even more deeply many checks and reverses, succeeded in marked than that which separated the rower wringing concession after concession from the of a gondola from a Contarini or a Morosini. stubborn aristocracy. At length, in the year At Venice the distinction was merely civil. At of the city 378, both parties mustered their Rome it was both civil and religious. Among whole strength for their last and most desperate the grievances under which the Plebeians suf- conflict. The popular and active Tribune, fered three were felt as peculiarly severe. Caius Licinius, proposed the three memorable They were excluded from the highest magis- laws which are called by his name, and which tracies; they were excluded from all share in were intended to redress the three great evils the public lands; and they were ground down of which the Plebeians complained. He was to the dust by partial and barbarous legislation supported, with eminent ability and firmness, touching pecuniary contracts. The ruling by his colleague, Lucius Sextius. The strug class in Rome was a moneyed class; and it gle appears to have been the fiercest that ever made and administered the laws with a view in any community terminated without an apsolely to its own interest. Thus the relation peal to arms. If such a contest had raged in between lender and borrower was mixed up any Greek city, the streets would have run with the relation between sovereign and sub with blood. But, even in the paroxysms of ject. The great men held a large portion of the faction, the Roman retained his gravity, his community in dependence by means of ad- respect for law, and his tenderness for the lives vances at enormous usury. The law of debt, of his fellow-citizens. Year after year Licinius framed by creditors, and for the protection of and Sextius were re-elected Tribunes. Year cr.uitors, was the most horrible that has ever after year, if the narrative which has come been known among men. The liberty, and down to us is to be trusted, they continued to even the life, of the insoivent were at the mercy exert, to the full extent, their power of stopping