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which the chief legislative authority rested with the senate, and the liberties of the people were very little improved. The executive was committed to two magistrates of equal authority, named consuls, who were chosen annually. Brutus, who had distinguished himself in expelling the royal family, was chosen one of the two first consuls. During the time he held office, his two sons joined in a conspiracy to restore Tarquin; and Brutus, with a disregard of his own affections which was considered a great virtue in Greece and Rome, when the public interest was concerned, condemned them both to be beheaded in his presence.
The early years of the republic were marked by great struggles between the patrician, or noble order, and the common people. The vigor and perseverance with which the latter sought to emancipate themselves from the authority of the former composed a striking picture in ancient history, and conveyed the impression that there were here elements of character superior to what existed at the time in any other nation, except the Greeks. It would be wearisome, however, to detail these various contentions.
From the beginning, the plebeians showed a tendency to acquire the mastery. By the “ Valerian law,” they acquired the right of giving a final judgment on any person condemned by a magistrate. Their importance in composing armies also helped to give them influence. By seizing an opportunity when the patricians were in difficulties from foreign aggression, 492, B. C., they obtained the right of appointing tribunes, — at first two in number, afterwards five, and
UN: finally ten, — who had the power of suspending the decrees of the senate and the sentences the consul, and had a general charge over the interests of the common people. The power enjoyed by the plebeians at this time is marked by their causing the celebrated Coriolanus to be sent into banishment, his splendid military services being insufficient to atone for his openly espousing the cause of the patricians, and expressing contempt for the people. By a certain law, they finally obtained the right of assembling in comitia, and of discussing public affairs, without the decree of the senate, a measure equivalent to the assembling of the British parliament without the king's writ, - and thus the government of Rome became highly democratic, 471, B. C.
As yet the Romans had had no written law. The kings, and after them the consuls, had administered justice each according to his own sense. In the
year 451, B. C., at the suggestion of a tribune named Terentilius, ten men (decemviri) were appointed to frame and digest a code of laws for the explanation and security of the rights of all orders of the state. The result was the formation of what have been called the Twelve Tables of the Roman law, to learn which by heart was a part of liberal education in Ancient Rome.
On the appointment of the Decemviri, the consuls were discontinued. Each of the ten men acted as supreme magistrate for a day, the nine others officiating as judges. They did not, however, remain long in authority. One of the number, named Appius Claudius, having formed a base design against a maiden named Virginia, daughter of Virginius, a centurion, and affianced to Icilius, caused her to be claimed as his slave, and, as decemvir, gave judgment in his own favor. When Virginius saw his daughter about to be sacrificed to a profligate monster, he seized a knife from a butcher's stall in the Forum, and stabbed her to the heart. The people rose in fury against Appius, who escaped for the time, but at length only avoided punishment by committing suicide. This event caused the abolition of the decemvirate, after it had lasted only three years. The consuls and tribunes were then restored.
The violent struggles of the patricians and plebeians did not prevent Rome from gradually acquiring an ascendency among the Italian States. The armies of Rome, unlike all others in those early times, were standing armies; the soldiers had regular pay, and made arms a profession. Their compact and wellorganized force, meeting in general only ill-disciplined militia, carried everything before it. Veii, a state which had long defied and rivalled them, fell before Camillus (396, B. C.). In 385, B. C., they finally reduced the Gauls, a powerful branch of the Celtic race inhabiting the north of Italy. They then fought and subdued the Samnites. Other states fell beneath their powerful arms, and in the year 274, B. C., they had acquired the complete mastery of all Italy.
The three wars with Carthage, called the Punic Wars, all terminating in favor of Rome, were the great events of the next hundred and twenty years. It was during the first of them that Regulus, a noble Roman general, was taken by the Carthaginians. He was permitted to go to Rome to propose terms of peace, upon the condition, however, that he should return, if the offer he bore should not be accepted. Regulus went, but earnestly opposed the treaty, as being dishon. orable to Rome. It was rejected, and he returned to Carthage in obedience to his promise, and submitted to the cruel death which he knew awaited him. The first Punic War was closed in the year 241, B. C.
After twenty-three years of peace, Carthage had recruited her wasted resources, and Hannibal then commenced his splendid career against Rome. He entered Italy at the north, traversed nearly its whole length, and, having often defeated the Roman legions, he maintained himself in Italy for sixteen years, drawing his whole supplies from the country he had invad. ed. But even Hannibal was finally defeated, and Carthage was a second time obliged to submit to a degrading peace, 202, B. C. The third Punic War began in 149, B. C., and ended, three years after, in the complete destruction of the city of Carthage.
These and other successes intoxicated the Roman people. Gorged with the spoils of other countries, they became at once luxurious, ambitious, and unscrupulous. They made war for plunder, with as little hesitation as does a professed robber upon the land, or a pirate upon the high seas. As they sent forth large armies, and to a considerable distance, for the purposes of conquest, the leaders acquired great power. By flattering the soldiery they learned to render them obedient to their will, and Cæsar at last led his forces against Rome itself.
It was at this period, when the commonwealth was about to pass into the hands of an absolute monarch, that the Romans had attained the height of their power.
Directing their main energies to military conquest, they had enjoyed some centuries of glory, with every kind of plunder which the conquered countries could furnish. Every district in Europe, Asia, and Africa, lying within reach of the Roman legions, had become tributary to Rome. At this period, the nation reckoned about 7,000,000 of citizens, with twice as many provincials, besides as many slaves. From being an obscure town, Rome had become a wide-spread city, and was adorned with majestic temples, public edifices, and palaces. Other towns in Italy also rose into importance, and became the residence of distinguished Roman citizens.
The public monuments of this remarkable people were placed, not only in the capital, but all over the provinces; and some of them are to this day reckoned among the greatest wonders of art. But the stu