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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 Caesars. 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 gebreak 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 The results of this great change were singu- legitimate successor of those forgotten minlarly happy and glorious. Two centuries of strels whose songs animated the factions of prosperity, harmony, and victory followed the the infant Republic. 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 Pie 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 felt by 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 before his time. "Quamquam id quidem etiam xii tabulæ declarant; condi jam tum solitum esse carmen, quod ne liceret fleri ad alterius injuriam lege sanxerunt."--Tuse. iv. 2.
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 chiefs of the aristocracy. Every personal defect, every domestic scandal, every tradition dishonourable to a noble house, would be sought out, brought into notice, and exaggerated. The 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 their haughty demeanour, and by the inflexibility with which they had withstood all the demands of the Plebeian order. While the political conduct and the deportment of the Claudian nobles 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 suff 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 hau 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 Cossus, 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 iil 3.
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.
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 Clau dian house, and especially against the grandson and namesake of the infamous Decemvir.
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 committed. 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 beautiful 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 sig-where, according to tradition, Virginia, more nal for a general explosion. Camp and city than seventy years ago, was seized by the rose at once; the Ten were pulled down; the pander of Appius, and he begins his story.
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; Appins 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
FRAGMENTS OF A LAY SUNG IN THE FORUM ON THE DAY WHEREON LUCIUS SEXTIUS SEXTINUS LATERANUS AND CAIUS LICINIUS CALVUS STOLO WERE ELECTED TRIBUNES OF THI COMMONS THE FIFTH TIME, IN THE YEAR OF THE CITY CCCLXXXII.
YE good men of the Commons, with loving hearts and true,
A tale of what Rome once hath borne; of what Rome yet may bear.
Of maids with snaky tresses, or sailors turned to swine.
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,
The townsmen shrank to right and left, and eyed askance with fear
With outstretched chin and crouching pace, the client Marcus steals,
His loins girt up to run with speed, be the errand what it may,
Just then, as through one cloudless chink in a black stormy sky
Home she went bounding from the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm
With bright, frank brow that had not learned to blush at gaze of man;
She warbled gayly to herself lines of the good old song,
And Appius heard her sweet young voice, and saw her sweet young face,
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,
All came in wrath and wonder; for all knew that fair child;
The caitiff reeled three paces back, and let the maiden go.
Yet glared he fiercely round him, and growled in harsh, fell tone,
She is my slave, born in my house, and stolen away and sold,
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.
Which makes the rich man tremble, and guards the poor man's right
Who clung tight to Muræna's skirt, and sobbed, and shrieked for aid,
Forth through the throng of gazers the young Icilius pressed,
Whereon three mouldering helmets, three rustling swords are hung,
Poured thick and fast the burning words which tyrants quake to hear
"Now, by your children's cradles, now, by your father's graves, Be men to-day, Quirites, or be forever slaves!
For this did Servius give us laws? For this did Lucrece bleed?
No Tribune breathes the word of might that guards the weak from wrong
Riches, and lands, and power, and state-ye have them :-keep them still
Still keep the holy fillets; still keep the purple gown,
The axes, and the curule chair, the car, and laurel crown:
Still press us for your cohorts, and, when the fight is done,
Still fill your garners from the soil which our good swords have won.
Still, like a spreading ulcer, which leech-craft may not cure,
Let your foul usance eat away the substance of the poor
Still let your haggard debtors bear all their fathers bore;
And store of rods for freeborn backs, and holes for freeborn feet.
Who from their cars look down with scorn upon the wondering street
That turns the coward's heart to steel, the sluggard's blood to flame.
And learn by proof, in some wild hour, how much the wretched dare.*
Straightway Virginius led the maid a little space aside,
To where the reeking shambles stood, piled up with horn and hide,
Virginius caught the whittle up, and hid it in his gown.
And then his eyes grew very dim, and his throat began to swell,
And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake, "Farewell, sweet child! Farewell
Oh! how I loved my darling! Though stern I sometimes be,
To thee, thou know'st, I was not so. Who could be so to thee?
And how my darling loved me! How glad she was to hear
And none will grieve when I go forth, or smile when I return,
He little deems that in this hand I clutch what still can save
Foul outrage which thou know'st not, which thou shalt never know.
Then, for a little moment, all people held their breath;
Some felt her lips and little wrist, if life might there be found;
And some tore up their garments fast, and strove to stanch the wound.
When Appius Claudius saw that deed, he shuddered and sank down,
So spake the slayer of his child, and turned, and went his way;
And writhed, and groaned a fearful groan; and then, with steadfast fee
Then up sprang Appius Claudius: "Stop him; alive or dead!
And he hath passed in safety unto his woful home,
And there ta'en horse to tell the camp what deeds are done in Rome
By this the flood of people was swollen from every side,
And streets and porches round were filled with that o'erflowing tide
Of them that were the nearest and dearest to the slain.
They brought a bier, and hung it with many a cypress crown,
And gently they uplifted her, and gently laid her down.
The face of Appius Claudius wore the Claudian scowl and sneer,
But a deep sullen murmur wandered among the crowd