Part 4 out of 15

Philip's most important achievement was the creation of the Macedonian
army, which he led to the conquest of Greece and which his son was to lead
to the conquest of the World. Taking a hint from the tactics of
Epaminondas, Philip trained his infantry to fight by columns, but with
sufficient intervals between the files to permit quick and easy movements.
Each man bore an enormous lance, eighteen feet in length. When this heavy
phalanx was set in array, the weapons carried by the soldiers in the first
five ranks presented a bristling thicket of lance-points, which no onset,
however determined, could penetrate. The business of the phalanx was to
keep the front of the foe engaged, while horsemen rode into the enemy's
flanks. This reliance on masses of cavalry to win a victory was something
new in warfare. Another novel feature consisted in the use of engines
called catapults, able to throw darts and huge stones three hundred yards,
and of battering rams with force enough to hurl down the walls of cities.
All these different arms working together made a war machine of tremendous
power--the most formidable in the ancient world until the days of the
Roman legion.


Philip commanded a fine army; he ruled with absolute sway a territory
larger than any other Hellenic state; and he himself possessed a genius
for both war and diplomacy, With such advantages the Macedonian king
entered on the subjugation of disunited Greece. His first great success
was won in western Thrace. Here he founded the city of Philippi [2] and
seized some rich gold mines, the income from which enabled him to keep his
soldiers always under arms, to fit out a fleet, and, by means of liberal
bribes, to hire a crowd of agents in nearly every Greek city. Philip next
made Macedonia a maritime state by subduing the Greek cities on the
peninsula of Chalcidice. [3] He also appeared in Thessaly, occupied its
principal fortresses, and brought the frontier of Macedonia as far south
as the pass of Thermopylae.



Philip for many years had been steadily extending his sway over Greece. In
the face of his encroachments would Athens, Sparta, and Thebes, so long
the leading cities, submit tamely to this Macedonian conqueror? There was
one man, at least, who realized the menace to Greek freedom from Philip's
onward march. In Demosthenes Greece found a champion of her threatened

[Illustration: DEMOSTHENES (Vatican Museum, Rome)
A marble statue, probably a copy of the bronze original by the sculptor
Polyeuctus. The work, when found, was considerably mutilated and has been
restored in numerous parts. Both forearms and the hands holding the scroll
are modern additions. It seems likely that the original Athenian statue
showed Demosthenes with tightly clasped hands, which, with his furrowed
visage and contracted brows, were expressive of the orator's earnestness
and concentration of thought.]


Demosthenes was the last, as well as the most famous, of the great
Athenian orators. When he first began to speak, the citizens laughed at
his long, involved sentences, over-rapid delivery, and awkward bearing.
Friends encouraged him to persist, assuring him that, if the manner of his
speeches was bad, their matter was worthy of Pericles. Numerous stories
are told of the efforts made by Demosthenes to overcome his natural
defects. He practiced gesturing before a mirror and, to correct a
stammering pronunciation, recited verses with pebbles in his mouth. He
would go down to the seashore during storms and strive to make his voice
heard above the roar of wind and waves, in order the better to face the
boisterous Assembly. Before long he came to be regarded as the prince of
speakers even in the city of orators. Demosthenes was a man cast in the
old heroic mold. His patriotic imagination had been fired by the great
deeds once accomplished by free Greeks. Athens he loved with passionate
devotion. Let her remember her ancient glories, he urged, and, by
withstanding Philip, become the leader of Hellas in a second war for


The stirring appeals of the great orator at first had little effect. There
were many friends of Philip in the Greek states, even in Athens itself.
When, however, Philip entered central Greece and threatened the
independence of its cities, the eloquence of Demosthenes met a readier
response. In the presence of the common danger Thebes and Athens gave up
their ancient rivalry and formed a defensive alliance against Philip. Had
it been joined by Sparta and the other Peloponnesian states, it is
possible that their united power might have hurled back the invader. But
they held aloof.


The decisive battle was fought at Chaeronea in Boeotia. On that fatal
field the well-drilled and seasoned troops of Macedonia, headed by a
master of the art of war, overcame the citizen levies of Greece. The
Greeks fought bravely, as of old, and their defeat was not inglorious.
Near the modern town of Chaeronea the traveler can still see the tomb
where the fallen heroes were laid, and the marble lion set up as a
memorial to their dauntless struggle.


Chaeronea gave Philip the undisputed control of Greece. But now that
victory was assured, he had no intention of playing the tyrant. He
compelled Thebes to admit a Macedonian garrison to her citadel, but
treated Athens so mildly that the citizens were glad to conclude with him
a peace which left their possessions untouched. Philip entered the
Peloponnesus as a liberator. Its towns and cities welcomed an alliance
with so powerful a protector against Sparta.


Having completely realized his design of establishing Macedonian rule over
Greece, Philip's restless energy drove him forward to the next step in his
ambitious program. He determined to carry out the plans, so long cherished
by the Greeks, for an invasion of Asia Minor and, perhaps, of Persia
itself. In the year 337 B.C. a congress of all the Hellenic states met at
Corinth under Philip's presidency. The delegates voted to supply ships and
men for the great undertaking and placed Philip in command of the allied
forces. A Macedonian king was to be the captain-general of Hellas.


But Philip was destined never to lead an army across the Hellespont. Less
than two years after Chaeronea he was killed by an assassin, and the
scepter passed to his young son, Alexander.

[Illustration: ALEXANDER (Glyptothek, Munich)
Probably an authentic portrait of the youthful Alexander about 338 B.C.]



Alexander was only twenty years of age when he became ruler of Macedonia.
From his father he inherited the powerful Frame, the kingly figure, the
masterful will, which made so deep an impression on all his
contemporaries. His mother, a proud and ambitious woman, told him that the
blood of Achilles ran in his veins, and bade him emulate the deeds of that
national hero. We know that he learned the _Iliad_ by heart and always
carried a copy of it on his campaigns. As he came to manhood, Alexander
developed into a splendid athlete, skillful in all the sports of his
rough-riding companions, and trained in every warlike exercise.


Philip believed that in Alexander he had a worthy son, for he persuaded
Aristotle, [4] the most learned man in Greece, to become the tutor of the
young prince. The influence of that philosopher remained with Alexander
throughout life. Aristotle taught him to love Greek art and science, and
instilled into his receptive mind an admiration for all things Grecian.
Alexander used to say that, while he owed his life to his father, he owed
to Aristotle the knowledge of how to live worthily.


The situation which Alexander faced on his accession might well have
dismayed a less dauntless spirit. Philip had not lived long enough to
unite firmly his wide dominions. His unexpected death proved the signal
for uprisings and disorder. The barbarous Thracians broke out in
widespread rebellion, and the Greeks made ready to answer the call of
Demosthenes to arms. But Alexander soon set his kingdom in order. After
crushing the tribes of Thrace, he descended on Greece and besieged Thebes,
which had risen against its Macedonian garrison. The city was soon
captured; its inhabitants were slaughtered or sold into slavery; and the
place itself was destroyed. The terrible fate of Thebes induced the other
states to submit without further resistance.


With Greece pacified, Alexander could proceed to the invasion of Persia.
Since the days of Darius the Great the empire had remained almost intact--
a huge, loosely-knit collection of many different peoples, whose sole bond
of union was their common allegiance to the Great King. [5] Its resources
were enormous. There were millions of men for the armies and untold wealth
in the royal treasuries. Yet the empire was a hollow shell.


Some seventy years before Alexander set forth on his expedition the Greeks
had witnessed a remarkable disclosure of the military weakness of Persia.
One of those rare revolts which troubled the security of the Persian
Empire broke out in Asia Minor. It was headed by Cyrus the Younger, a
brother of the Persian monarch. Cyrus gathered a large body of native
troops and also hired about ten thousand Greek soldiers. He led this mixed
force into the heart of the Persian dominions, only to fall in battle at
Cunaxa, near Babylon. The Greeks easily routed the enemy arrayed against
them, but the death of Cyrus made their victory fruitless. In spite of
their desperate situation the Greeks refused to surrender and started to
return homewards. The Persians dogged their footsteps, yet never ventured
on a pitched battle. After months of wandering in Assyria and Armenia the
little band of intrepid soldiers finally reached Trapezus, (Modern
Trebizond) a Greek city on the Black Sea.

[Illustration: Map, ROUTE OF THE TEN THOUSAND]


The story of this invasion of Persia and the subsequent retreat was
written by the Athenian Xenophon [6] in his _Anabasis_. It is one of the
most interesting books that have come down to us from antiquity. We can
judge from it how vivid was the impression which the adventures of the
"Ten Thousand" made on the Greeks of Xenophon's time. A small army had
marched to the center of the Persian dominions, had overcome a host many
times its size, and had returned to Greece in safety. It was clear proof
that the Persian power, however imposing on the outside, could offer no
effective resistance to an attack by a strong force of disciplined Greek
soldiers. Henceforth the Greeks never abandoned the idea of an invasion of


The gigantic task fell, however, to Alexander, as the champion of Hellas
against the "barbarians." With an army of less than forty thousand men
Alexander destroyed an empire before which, for two centuries, all Asia
had been wont to tremble. History, ancient or modern, contains no other
record of conquests so widespread, so thorough, so amazingly rapid.



Alexander crossed the Hellespont in the spring of the year 334 B.C. He
landed not far from the historic plain of Troy and at once began his march
along the coast. Near the little river Granicus the satraps of Asia Minor
had gathered an army to dispute his passage. Alexander at once led his
cavalry across the river in an impetuous charge, which soon sent the
Persian troops in headlong flight. The victory cost the Macedonians
scarcely a hundred men; but it was complete. As Alexander passed
southward, town after town opened its gates--first Sardis, next Ephesus,
then all the other cities of Ionia. They were glad enough to be free of
Persian control. Within a year Asia Minor was a Macedonian possession.


In the meantime Darius III, the Persian king, had been making extensive
preparations to meet the invader. He commanded half a million men, but he
followed Alexander too hastily and had to fight in a narrow defile on the
Syrian coast between the mountains and the sea. In such cramped quarters
numbers did not count. The battle became a massacre, and only the approach
of night stayed the swords of the victorious Macedonians. A great quantity
of booty, including the mother, wife, and children of Darius, fell into
Alexander's hands. He treated his royal captives kindly, but refused to
make peace with the Persian king.

[Illustration: THE ALEXANDER MOSAIC (Naples Museum)
This splendid mosaic composed of pieces of colored glass formed the
pavement of a Roman house at Pompeii in Italy. It represents the charge of
Alexander (on horseback at the left) against the Persian king in his
chariot, at the battle of Issus.]


The next step was to subdue the Phoenician city of Tyre, the headquarters
of Persia's naval power. The city lay on a rocky island, half a mile from
the shore. Its fortifications rose one hundred feet above the waves.
Although the place seemed impregnable, Alexander was able to capture it
after he had built a mole, or causeway, between the shore and the island.
Powerful siege engines then breached the walls, the Macedonians poured in,
and Tyre fell by storm. Thousands of its inhabitants perished and
thousands more were sold into slavery. The great emporium of the East
became a heap of ruins.


From Tyre Alexander led his ever-victorious army through Syria into Egypt.
The Persian forces here offered little resistance, and the Egyptians
themselves welcomed Alexander as a deliverer. The conqueror entered
Memphis in triumph and then sailed down the Nile to its western mouth,
where he laid the foundations of Alexandria, a city which later became the
metropolis of the Orient.


Another march brought Alexander to the borders of Libya, Here he received
the submission of Cyrene, the most important Greek colony in Africa. [7]
Alexander's dominions were thus extended to the border of the Carthaginian
possessions. It was at this time that Alexander visited a celebrated
temple of the god Amon, located in an oasis of the Libyan desert. The
priests were ready enough to hail him as a son of Amon, as one before whom
his Egyptian subjects might bow down and adore. But after Alexander's
death his worship spread widely over the world, and even the Roman Senate
gave him a place among the gods of Olympus.


The time had now come to strike directly at the Persian king. Following
the ancient trade routes through northern Mesopotamia, Alexander crossed
the Euphrates and the Tigris and, on a broad plain not far from the ruins
of ancient Nineveh, [8] found himself confronted by the Persian host.
Darius held an excellent position and hoped to crush his foe by sheer
weight of numbers. But nothing could stop the Macedonian onset; once more
Darius fled away, and once more the Persians, deserted by their king,
broke up in hopeless rout.


The battle of Arbela decided the fate of the Persian Empire. It remained
only to gather the fruits of victory. The city of Babylon surrendered
without a struggle. Susa, with its enormous treasure, fell into the
conqueror's hands. Persepolis, the old Persian capital, was given up to
fire and sword. [9] Darius himself, as he retreated eastward, was murdered
by his own men. With the death of Darius the national war of Greece
against Persia came to an end.


The Macedonians had now overrun all the Persian provinces except distant
Iran and India. These countries were peopled of by warlike tribes of a
very different stamp from the effeminate Persians. Alexander might well
have been content to leave them undisturbed, but the man could never rest
while there were still conquests to be made. Long marches and much hard
fighting were necessary to subdue the tribes about the Caspian and the
inhabitants of the countries now known as Afghanistan and Turkestan.

[Illustration: Map, EMPIRE OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT About 323 B.C.]


Crossing the lofty barrier of the Hindu-Kush, Alexander led his weary
soldiers into northwestern India, where a single battle added the Persian
province of the Punjab [10] to the Macedonian possessions. Alexander then
pressed forward to the conquest of the Ganges valley, but in the full tide
of victory his troops refused to go any farther. They had had their fill
of war and martial glory; they would conquer no more lands for their
ambitious king. Alexander gave with reluctance the order for the homeward


Alexander was of too adventurous a disposition to return by the way he had
come. He resolved to reach Babylon by a new route. He built a navy on the
Indus and had it accompany the army down the river. At the mouth of the
Indus Alexander dispatched the fleet under his admiral, Nearchus, to
explore the Indian Ocean and to discover, if possible, a sea route between
India and the West. He himself led the army, by a long and toilsome march
through the deserts of southern Iran, to Babylon. That city now became the
capital of the Macedonian Empire.


Scarcely two years after his return, while he was planning yet more
extensive conquests in Arabia, Africa, and western Europe, he was smitten
by the deadly Babylonian fever. In 323 B.C., after several days of
illness, the conqueror of the world passed away, being not quite thirty-
three years of age.



Alexander the Great was one of the foremost, perhaps the first, of the
great captains of antiquity. But he was more than a world-conqueror; he
was a statesman of the highest order. Had he been spared for an ordinary
lifetime, there is no telling how much he might have accomplished. In
eleven years he had been able to subdue the East and to leave an impress
upon it which was to endure for centuries. And yet his work had only
begun. There were still lands to conquer, cities to build, untrodden
regions to explore. Above all, it was still his task to shape his
possessions into a well-knit, unified empire, which would not fall to
pieces in the hands of his successors. His early death was a calamity, for
it prevented the complete realization of his splendid ambitions.


The immediate result of Alexander's conquests was the disappearance of the
barriers which had so long shut in the Orient. The East, until his day,
was an almost unknown land. Now it lay open to the spread of Greek
civilization. In the wake of the Macedonian armies followed Greek
philosophers and scientists, Greek architects and artists, Greek
colonists, merchants, and artisans. Everywhere into that huge, inert,
unprogressive Oriental world came the active and enterprising men of
Hellas. They brought their arts and culture and became the teachers of
those whom they had called "barbarians."


The ultimate result of Alexander's conquests was the fusion of East and
West. He realized that his new empire must contain a place for Oriental,
as well as for Greek and East and Macedonian, subjects. It was Alexander's
aim, therefore, to build up a new state in which the distinction between
the European and the Asiatic should gradually pass away. He welcomed
Persian nobles to his court and placed them in positions of trust. He
organized the government of his provinces on a system resembling that of
Darius the Great. [11] He trained thousands of Persian soldiers to replace
the worn-out veterans in his armies. He encouraged by liberal dowries
mixed marriages between Macedonians and Orientals, and himself wedded the
daughter of the last Persian king. To hold his dominions together and
provide a meeting place for both classes of his subjects, he founded no
less than seventy cities in different parts of the empire. Such measures
as these show that Alexander had a mind of wide, even cosmopolitan,
sympathies. They indicate the loss which ancient civilization suffered by
his untimely end.

[Illustration: SARCOPHAGUS FROM SIDON (Imperial Ottoman Museum,

One of eighteen splendid sarcophagi discovered in 1887 A.D. in an ancient
cemetery at Sidon. The sculptures on the longer sides represent two scenes
from the life of Alexander--the one a battle, the other a lion hunt. The
figures, in almost full relief, are delicately painted. ]



The half century following Alexander's death is a confused and troubled
period in ancient history. The king had left no legitimate son--no one
with an undisputed title to the succession. On his deathbed Alexander had
himself declared that the realm should go "to the strongest." [12] It was
certain, under these circumstances, that his possessions would become the
prey of the leading Macedonian generals. The unwieldy empire at length
broke in pieces. Out of the fragments arose three great states, namely,
Macedonia, Egypt, and Syria. The kingdom of Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy,
one of Alexander's generals. Seleucus, another of his generals,
established the kingdom of Syria. It comprised nearly all western Asia.
These kingdoms remained independent until the era of Roman conquest in the

[Illustration: A GREEK CAMEO (Museum, Vienna)
Cut in sardonyx. Represents Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and his
wife Arsinoe.]


Several small states also arose from the break-up of Alexander's empire.
[13] Each had its royal dynasty, its capital city, and its own national
life. Thus the conquests of Alexander, instead of establishing a world-
power under one ruler, led to the destruction of the unity of government
which Persia had given to the East.


More significant for the history of civilization than these kingdoms were
the Hellenistic [14] cities, which from the time of Alexander arose in
every part of the eastern world. Some were only garrison towns in the
heart of remote provinces or outposts along the frontiers. Many more,
however, formed busy centers of trade and industry, and became seats of
Greek influence in the Orient. Such cities were quite unlike the old Greek
city-states. [15] They were not free and independent, but made a part of
the kingdom in which they were situated. The inhabitants consisted of
Greeks and Macedonians, comprising the governing class, together with
native artisans and merchants who had abandoned their village homes for
life in a metropolis. In appearance, also, these cities contrasted with
those of old Greece. They had broad streets, well paved and sometimes
lighted at night, enjoyed a good water supply, and possessed baths,
theaters, and parks.


In the third century B.C. the foremost Hellenistic city was Alexandria. It
lay on a strip of flat, sandy land separating Lake Mareotis from the
Mediterranean. On the one side was the lake-harbor, connected with the
Nile; on the other side were two sea-harbors, sheltered from the open sea
by the long and narrow island of Pharos. [16] The city possessed a
magnificent site for commerce. It occupied the most central position that
could be found in the ancient world with respect to the three continents,
Africa, Asia, and Europe. The prosperity which this port has enjoyed for
more than two thousand years is ample evidence of the wisdom which led to
its foundation.


The chief city in the kingdom of Syria was splendid and luxurious Antioch.
It lay in the narrow valley of the Orontes River, so close to both the
Euphrates and the Mediterranean that it soon became an important
commercial center. The city must have been a most delightful residence,
with its fine climate, its location on a clear and rapid stream, and the
near presence of the Syrian hills. In the sixth century A.D. repeated
earthquakes laid Antioch in ruins. The city never recovered its
prosperity, though a modern town, Antakia, still marks the site of the
once famous capital.

B.C.), Before the Roman Macedonian Wars]

[Illustration: THE DYING GAUL (Capitoline Museum, Rome)
The statue represents a Gaul who in battle has fallen on his sword to
avoid a shameful captivity. Overcome by the faintness of death he sinks
upon his shield, his head dropping heavily forward. Though realistic the
statue shows nothing violent or revolting. It is a tragedy in stone.]


Asia Minor, during this period, contained many Hellenistic cities. One of
the most important was Pergamum, the capital of a small but independent
kingdom of the same name. Its rulers earned the gratitude of all the
Greeks by their resistance to the terrible Gauls. About fifty years after
Alexander's death this barbarous people, pouring down from central Europe,
had ravaged Greece and invaded Asia Minor. The kings of Pergamum
celebrated their victories over the Gauls with so many works of
architecture and sculpture that their city became the artistic rival of


One other great Hellenistic center existed in the island city of Rhodes.
Founded during the closing years of the Peloponnesian War, Rhodes soon
distanced Athens in the race for commercial supremacy. The merchants of
Rhodes framed admirable laws, especially for business affairs, and many of
these were incorporated in the Roman code. Rhodes was celebrated for art.
No less than three thousand statues adorned the streets and public
buildings. It was also a favorite place of education for promising orators
and writers. During Roman days many eminent men, Cicero and Julius Caesar
among them, studied oratory at Rhodes.



These splendid cities in the Orient were the centers of much literary
activity. Their inhabitants, whether Hellenic or "barbarian," used Greek
as a common language. During this period Greek literature took on a
cosmopolitan character. It no longer centered in Athens. Writers found
their audiences in all lands where Greeks had settled. At the same time
literature became more and more an affair of the study. The authors were
usually professional bookmen writing for a bookish public. They produced
many works of literary criticism, prepared excellent grammars and
dictionaries, but wrote very little poetry or prose of enduring value.


The Hellenistic Age was distinguished as an age of learning. Particularly
was this true at Alexandria, where the Museum, founded by the first
Macedonian king of Egypt, became a real university. It contained galleries
of art, an astronomical observatory, and even zoological and botanical
gardens. The Museum formed a resort for men of learning, who had the
leisure necessary for scholarly research. The beautiful gardens, with
their shady walks, statues, and fountains, were the haunt of thousands of
students whom the fame of Alexandria attracted from all parts of the
civilized world.


In addition to the Museum there was a splendid library, which at one time
contained over five hundred thousand manuscripts--almost everything that
had been written in antiquity. The chief librarian ransacked private
collections and purchased all the books he could find. Every book that
entered Egypt was brought to the Library, where slaves transcribed the
manuscript and gave a copy to the owner in place of the original. Before
this time the manuscripts of celebrated works were often scarce and always
in danger of being lost. Henceforth it was known where to look for them.

[Illustration: LAOCOON AND HIS CHILDREN (Vatican Museum Rome)
A product of the art school of Rhodes (about 150 B.C.). The statue
represents the punishment inflicted on Laocoon a Trojan priest together
with his two sons. A pair of large serpents sent by the offended gods have
seized the unhappy victims.]

[Illustration: VICTORY OF SAMOTHRACE (Louvre, Paris)
Commemorates a naval battle fought in 306 B.C. The statue, which is
considerably above life-size, stood on a pedestal having the form of a
ship's prow. The goddess of Victory was probably represented holding a
trumpet to her lips with her right hand. The fresh ocean breeze has blown
her garments back into tumultuous folds.]


The Hellenistic Age was remarkable for the rapid advance of scientific
knowledge. Most of the mathematical works of the Greeks date from this
epoch. Euclid wrote a treatise on geometry which still holds its place in
the schools. Archimedes of Syracuse, who had once studied at Alexandria,
made many discoveries in engineering. A water screw of his device is still
in use. He has the credit for finding out the laws of the lever. "Give me
a fulcrum on which to rest," he said, "and I will move the earth." The
Hellenistic scholars also made remarkable progress in medicine. The
medical school of Alexandria was well equipped with charts, models, and
dissecting rooms for the study of the human body. During the second
century of our era all the medical knowledge of antiquity was gathered up
in the writings of Galen (born about 130 A.D.). For more than a thousand
years Galen of Pergamum remained the supreme authority in medicine.


In scientific work it seems as if the Greeks had done almost all that
could be accomplished by sheer brain power aided only by rude instruments.
They had no real telescopes or microscopes, no mariner's compass or
chronometer, and no very delicate balances. Without such inventions the
Greeks could hardly proceed much farther with their researches. Modern
scientists are perhaps no better thinkers than were those of antiquity,
but they have infinitely better apparatus and can make careful experiments
where the Greeks had to rely on shrewd guesses.


During the Hellenistic Age men began to gain more accurate ideas regarding
the shape and size of the habitable globe. Such events as the expedition
of the "Ten Thousand" [17] and Alexander's conquests in central Asia and
India brought new information about the countries and peoples of the
Orient. During Alexander's lifetime a Greek named Pytheas, starting from
Massilia, [18] made an adventurous voyage along the shores of Spain and
Gaul and spent some time in Britain. He was probably the first Greek to
visit that island.


All this new knowledge of East and West was soon gathered together by
Eratosthenes, the learned librarian of Alexandria. He was the founder of
scientific geography. Before his time some students had already concluded
that the earth is spherical and not flat, as had been taught in the
Homeric poems. [19] Guesses had even been made of the size of the earth.
Eratosthenes by careful measurements came within a few thousand miles of
its actual circumference. Having estimated the size of the earth,
Eratosthenes went on to determine how large was its habitable area. He
reached the conclusion that the distance from the strait of Gibraltar to
the east of India was about one-third of the earth's circumference. The
remaining two-thirds, he thought, was covered by the sea. And with what
seems a prophecy he remarked that, if it was not for the vast extent of
the Atlantic Ocean, one might almost sail from Spain to India along the
same parallel of latitude.

Map, The World according to Eratosthenes, 200 B.C.
Map, The World according to Ptolemy, 150 A.D.]


The next two centuries after Eratosthenes saw the spread of Roman rule
over Greeks and Carthaginians in the Mediterranean and over the barbarous
inhabitants of Gaul, Britain, and Germany. The new knowledge thus gained
was summed up in the Greek _Geography_ by Ptolemy [20] of Alexandria. His
famous map shows how near he came to the real outlines both of Europe and


Ptolemy was likewise an eminent astronomer. He believed that the earth was
the center of the universe and that the sun, planets, and fixed stars all
revolved around it. This Ptolemaic system was not overthrown until the
grand discovery of Copernicus in the sixteenth century of our era.



The Hellenistic Age was characterized by a general increase in wealth. The
old Greeks and Macedonians, as a rule, had been content to live plainly.
Now kings, nobles, and rich men began to build splendid palaces and to
fill them with the products of ancient art--marbles from Asia Minor, vases
from Athens, Italian bronzes, and Babylonian tapestries. They kept up
great households with endless lords in waiting, ladies of honor, pages,
guards, and servants. Soft couches and clothes of delicate fabric replaced
the simple coverlets and coarse cloaks of an earlier time. They possessed
rich carpets and hangings, splendid armor and jewelry, and gold and silver
vessels for the table. The Greeks thus began to imitate the luxurious
lives of Persian nobles.


These new luxuries flowed in from all parts of the ancient world. Many
came from the Far East in consequence of the rediscovery of the sea route
to India, by Alexander's admiral, Nearchus. [21] The voyage of Nearchus
was one of the most important results of Alexander's eastern conquests. It
established the fact, which had long been forgotten, that one could reach
India by a water route much shorter and safer than the caravan roads
through central Asia. [22] Somewhat later a Greek sailor, named Harpalus,
found that by using the monsoons, the periodic winds which blow over the
Indian Ocean, he could sail direct from Arabia to India without
laboriously following the coast. The Greeks, in consequence, gave his name
to the monsoons.


All this sudden increase of wealth, all the thousand new enjoyments with
which life was now adorned and enriched, did not work wholly for good.
With luxury there went, as always, laxity in morals. Contact with the vice
and effeminacy of the East tended to lessen the manly vigor of the Greeks,
both in Asia and in Europe. Hellas became corrupt, and she in turn
corrupted Rome.


Yet the most interesting, as well as the most important, feature of the
age is the diffusion of Hellenic culture--the "Hellenizing" of the Orient.
It was, indeed, a changed world in which men were now living. Greek
cities, founded by Alexander and his successors, stretched from the Nile
to the Indus, dotted the shores of the Black Sea and Caspian, and arose
amid the wilds of central Asia. The Greek language, once the tongue of a
petty people, grew to be a universal language of culture, spoken even by
"barbarian" lips. And the art, the science, the literature, the principles
of politics and philosophy, developed in isolation by the Greek mind,
henceforth became the heritage of many nations.


Thus, in the period after Alexander the long struggle between East and
West reached a peaceful conclusion. The distinction between Greek and
Barbarian gradually faded away, and the ancient world became ever more
unified in sympathies and aspirations. It was this mingled civilization of
Orient and Occident with which the Romans were now to come in contact, as
they pushed their conquering arms beyond Italy into the eastern

1. Lydian coin of about 700 B.C.; the material is electrum, a
compound of gold and silver.
2. Gold _daric_; a Persian coin worth about $5.
3. Hebrew silver _shekel_.
4. Athenian silver _tetradrachm_ showing Athena, her olive
branch and sacred owl.
5. Roman bronze _as_ (2 cents) of about 217 B.C.; the
symbols are the head of Janus and the prow of a ship.
6. Bronze _sestertius_ (5 cents) struck in Nero's reign; the
emperor, who carries a spear, is followed by a second horseman
bearing a banner.
7. Silver _denarius_ (20 cents) of about 99 B.C.; it shows a
bust of Roma and three citizens voting.
8. Gold _solidus_ ($5) of Honorius about 400 A.D.; the emperor
wears a diadem and carries a scepter.]


1. On an outline map indicate the routes of Alexander, marking the
principal battle fields and the most important cities founded by him.
Note, also, the voyage of Nearchus.

2. On an outline map indicate the principal Hellenistic kingdoms about 200

3. Give the proper dates for (a) accession of Alexander; (b) battle of
Issus; (c) battle of Arbela; and (d) death of Alexander.

4. In what sense was Chaeronea a decisive battle?

5. How is it true that the expedition of the Ten Thousand forms "an
epilogue to the invasion of Xerxes and a prologue to the conquests of

6. How much can you see and describe in the Alexander Mosaic
(illustration, page 123)?

7. Compare Alexander's invasion of Persia with the invasion of Greece by

8. Distinguish between the immediate and the ultimate results of
Alexander's conquests.

9. Comment on the following statement: "No single personality, excepting
the carpenter's son of Nazareth, has done so much to make the world we
live in what it is as Alexander of Macedon."

10. How did the Macedonian Empire compare in size with that of Persia?
With that of Assyria?

11. What modern countries are included within the Macedonian Empire under

12. How did the founding of the Hellenistic cities continue the earlier
colonial expansion of Greece?

13. Why were the Hellenistic cities the real "backbone" of Hellenism?

14. Why do great cities rarely develop without the aid of commerce? Were
all the great cities in Alexander's empire of commercial importance?

15. Show how Alexandria has always been one of the meeting points between
Orient and Occident.

16. How did the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 A.D. affect the
commercial importance of Alexandria?

17. Name some of the great scientists of the Alexandrian age.

18. What were their contributions to knowledge?

19. Using the maps on pages 76 and 132, trace the growth of geographical
knowledge from Homer's time to that of Ptolemy.

20. What parts of the world are most correctly outlined on Ptolemy's map?

21. "The seed-ground of European civilization is neither Greece nor the
Orient, but a world joined of the two." Comment on this statement.


[1] Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter xii, "Demosthenes and
the Struggle against Philip"; chapter xiii, "Exploits of Alexander the

[2] Philippi became noted afterwards as the first city in Europe where
Christianity was preached. See _Acts_, xvi, 9.

[3] See the map between pages 68-69.

[4] See page 275.

[5] See page 39.

[6] See page 272.

[7] See page 90.

[8] See page 36.

[9] See John Dryden's splendid ode, _Alexander's Feast_.

[10] See pages 20 and 39.

[11] See pages 39-40.

[12] Arrian, _Anabasis of Alexander_, vii, 26.

[13] See the map facing page 128.

[14] The term "Hellenic" refers to purely Greek culture; the term
"Hellenistic," to Greek culture as modified by contact with Oriental life
and customs.

[15] See page 81.

[16] The lighthouse on the island of Pharos was considered one of the
"seven wonders" of the ancient world. The others were the hanging gardens
and walls of Babylon, the pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, the temple of
Artemis at Ephesus, the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the statue of Zeus
at Olympia.

[17] See page 120.

[18] See page 89.

[19] See page 74.

[20] Not to be confused with King Ptolemy (page 127).

[21] See page 125.

[22] See page 48.





The shape of Italy is determined by the course of the Apennines. Branching
off from the Alps at the gulf of Genoa, these mountains cross the
peninsula in an easterly direction, almost to the Adriatic. Here they turn
sharply to the southeast and follow the coast for a considerable distance.
The plains of central Italy, in consequence, are all on the western slope
of the Apennines. In the lower part of the peninsula the range swerves
suddenly to the southwest, so that the level land is there on the eastern
side of the mountains. Near the southern extremity of Italy the Apennines
separate into two branches, which penetrate the "heel and toe" of the


Italy may be conveniently divided into a northern, a central, and a
southern section. These divisions, however, are determined by the
direction of the mountains and not, as in Greece, chiefly by inlets of the
sea. Northern Italy contains the important region known in ancient times
as Cisalpine Gaul. This is a perfectly level plain two hundred miles in
length, watered by the Po (_Padus_), which the Romans called the "king of
rivers," because of its length and many tributary streams. Central Italy,
lying south of the Apennines, includes seven districts, of which the three
on the western coast--Etruria, Latium, and Campania--were most conspicuous
in ancient history. Southern Italy, because of its warm climate and deeply
indented coast, early attracted many Greek colonists. Their colonies here
came to be known as Magna Graecia, or Great Greece.

[Illustration: Map, ANCIENT ITALY AND SICILY.]


The triangular-shaped island of Sicily is separated from Italy by the
strait of Messina, a channel which, at the narrowest part, is only two
miles wide. At one time Sicily must have been joined to the mainland. Its
mountains, which rise at their highest point in the majestic volcano of
Aetna, nearly eleven thousand feet above sea level, are a continuation of
those of Italy. The greater part of Sicily is remarkably productive,
containing rich grainfields and hillsides green with the olive and the
vine. Lying in the center of the Mediterranean and in the direct route of
merchants and colonists from every direction, Sicily has always been a
meeting place of nations. In antiquity Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans
contended for the possession of this beautiful island.


On Italian history, as on that of Greece, [2] we are able to trace the
profound influence of geographical conditions. In the first place, the
peninsula of Italy is not cut up by a tangle of mountains into many small
districts. Hence it was easier for the Italians, than for the Greeks, to
establish one large and united state. In the second place, Italy, which
has few good harbors but possesses fine mountain pastures and rich lowland
plains, was better adapted to cattle raising and agriculture than was
Greece. The Italian peoples, in consequence, instead of putting to sea,
remained a conservative, home-staying folk, who were slow to adopt the
customs of other nations. Finally, the location of Italy, with its best
harbors and most numerous islands on the western coast, brought that
country into closer touch with Gaul, Spain, and northwestern Africa than
with Greece and the Orient. Italy fronted the barbarous West.



Long before the Romans built their city by the Tiber every part of Italy
had become the home of wandering peoples, attracted by the mild climate
and rich soil of this favored land. Two of these peoples were neighbors of
the Romans--Etruscans on the north and Greeks on the south.


The ancestors of the historic Etruscans were probably Aegean sea-rovers
who settled in the Italian peninsula before the beginning of the eighth
century B.C. The immigrants mingled with the natives and by conquest and
colonization founded a strong power in the country to which they gave
their name--Etruria. At one time the Etruscans appear to have ruled over
Campania and also in the Po Valley as far as the Alps. Their colonies
occupied the shores of Sardinia and Corsica. Their fleets swept the
Tyrrhenian Sea. The Etruscans for several centuries were the leading
nation in Italy.

[Illustration: A GRAECO-ETRUSCAN CHARIOT (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New

The chariot was discovered in 1903 A.D. in an Etruscan cemetery near Rome.
It dates from perhaps 600 B.C. Almost every part of the vehicle is covered
with thin plates of bronze, elaborately decorated. The wheels are only two
feet in diameter. Since the chariot is too small and delicate for use in
warfare, we may believe it to have been intended for ceremonial purposes


These Etruscans, like the Hittites of Asia Minor, [3] are a mysterious
race. No one as yet has been able to read their language, which is quite
unlike any Indo-European tongue. The words, however, are written in an
alphabet borrowed from Greek settlers in Italy. Many other civilizing arts
besides the alphabet came to the Etruscans from abroad. Babylonia gave to
them the principle of the round arch and the practice of divination. [4]
Etruscan graves contain Egyptian seals adorned with hieroglyphics and
beautiful vases bearing designs from Greek mythology. The Etruscans were
skillful workers in iron, bronze, and gold. They built their cities with
massive walls, arched gates, paved streets, and underground drains. In the
course of time a great part of this Etruscan civilization was absorbed in
that of Rome.

[Illustration: AN ETRUSCAN ARCH
The Italian city of Volterra still preserves in the Porta dell' Arco an
interesting relic of Etruscan times. The archway, one of the original
gates of the ancient town, is about twenty feet in height and twelve feet
in width. On the keystone and imposts are three curious heads, probably
representing the guardian deities of the place.]

About eight thousand Etruscan inscriptions are known, almost all being
short epitaphs on gravestones. In 1892 A.D. an Etruscan manuscript which
had been used to pack an Egyptian mummy, was published, but the language
could not be deciphered.]


As teachers of the Romans the Etruscans were followed by the Greeks. About
the middle of the eighth century B.C. Hellenic colonies began to occupy
the coasts of Sicily and southern Italy. The earliest Greek settlement was
Cumae, near the bay of Naples. [5] It was a city as old as Rome itself,
and a center from which Greek culture, including the Greek alphabet,
spread to Latium. A glance at the map [6] shows that the chief Greek
Colonies were all on or near the Sea, from Campania to the gulf of
Tarentum. North of the "heel" of Italy extends an almost harborless coast,
where nothing tempted the Greeks to settle. North of Campania, again, they
found the good harbors already occupied by the Etruscans. The Greeks, in
consequence, were never able to make Italy a completely Hellenic land.
Room was left for the native Italian peoples, under the leadership of
Rome, to build up their own power in the peninsula.


The Italians were an Indo-European people who spoke a language closely
related, on the one side, to Greek and, on the other side, to the Celtic
tongues of western Europe. They entered Italy through the Alpine passes,
long before the dawn of history, and gradually pushed southward until they
occupied the interior of the peninsula. At the beginning of historic times
they had separated into two main branches. The eastern and central parts
of Italy formed the home of the highlanders, grouped in various tribes.
Among them were the Umbrians in the northeast, the Sabines in the upper
valley of the Tiber, and the Samnites in the south. Still other Italian
peoples occupied the peninsula as far as Magna Graecia.


The western Italians were known as Latins. They dwelt in Latium, the "flat
land" extending south of the Tiber between the Apennines and the
Tyrrhenian Sea. Residence in the lowlands, where they bordered on the
Etruscans, helped to make the Latins a civilized people. Their village
communities grew into larger settlements, until the whole of Latium became
filled with a number of independent city-states. The ties of kinship and
the necessity of defense against Etruscan and Sabine foes bound them
together. At a very early period they had united in the Latin League,
under the headship of Alba Longa. Another city in this league was Rome.



Rome sprang from a settlement of Latin shepherds, farmers, and traders on
the Palatine Mount. [7] This was the central eminence in a group of low
hills south of the Tiber, about fifteen miles by water from the river's
mouth. Opposite the Palatine community there arose on the Quirinal Hill
another settlement, which seems to have been an outpost of the Sabines.
After much hard fighting the rival hill towns united on equal terms into
one state. The low marshy land between the Palatine and Quirinal became
the Forum, or common market place, and the steep rock, known as the
Capitoline, formed the common citadel. [8]

[Illustration: Map, VICINITY OF ROME.]


The union of the Palatine and Quirinal settlements greatly increased the
area and population of the Roman city. In course of time settlements were
made on the neighboring hills and these, too, cast in their lot with Rome.
Then a fortification, the so-called "Wall of Servius," was built to bring
them all within the boundaries of the enlarged community. Rome came into
existence as the City of the Seven Hills.


Long after the foundation of Rome, when that city had grown rich and
powerful, her poets and historians delighted to relate the many myths
which clustered about the earlier stages of her career. According to these
myths Rome began as a colony of Alba Longa, the capital of Latium. The
founder of this city was Ascanius, son of the Trojan prince Aeneas, who
had escaped from Troy on its capture by the Greeks and after long
wanderings had reached the coast of Italy. Many generations afterwards,
when Numitor sat on the throne of Alba Longa, his younger brother,
Amulius, plotted against him and drove him into exile. He had Numitor's
son put to death, and forced the daughter, Rhea Silvia, to take the vows
of a Vestal Virgin. [9]

[Illustration: AN EARLY ROMAN COIN
Shows the twins, Romulus and Remus as infants suckled by a wolf.]


But Rhea Silvia, beloved by Mars, the god of war, gave birth to twin boys
of more than human size and beauty. The wicked Amulius ordered the
children to be set adrift in a basket on the Tiber. Heaven, however,
guarded these offspring of a god; the river cast them ashore near Mount
Palatine, and a she-wolf came and nursed them. There they were discovered
by a shepherd, who reared them in his own household. When the twins,
Romulus and Remus, reached manhood, they killed Amulius and restored their
grandfather to his kingdom. With other young men from Alba Longa, they
then set forth to build a new city on the Palatine, where they had been
rescued. As they scanned the sky to learn the will of the gods, six
vultures, birds of Jupiter, appeared to Remus; but twelve were seen by
Romulus. So Romulus marked out the boundary of the city on the Palatine,
and Remus, who in derision leaped over the half-finished wall, he slew in
anger. Romulus thus became the sole founder of Rome and its first king.


Romulus was followed by a Sabine, Numa Pompilius, who taught the Romans
the arts of peace and the worship of the gods. Another king destroyed Alba
Longa and brought the inhabitants to Rome. The last of Rome's seven kings
was an Etruscan named Tarquin the Proud. His tyranny finally provoked an
uprising, and Rome became a republic.


These famous tales have become a part of the world's literature and still
possess value to the student. They show us what the Romans themselves
believed about the foundation and early fortunes of their city. Sometimes
they refer to what seem to be facts, such as the first settlement on the
Palatine, the union with the Sabines on the Quirinal, the conquest of Alba
Longa, and Etruscan rule at Rome. The myths also contain so many
references to customs and beliefs that they are a great help in
understanding the social life and religion of the early Romans.



Agriculture was the chief occupation of the Roman people. "When our
forefathers," said an ancient writer, "would praise a worthy man, they
praised him as a good farmer and a good landlord; and they believed that
an praise could go no further." [10] Roman farmers raised large crops of
grain--the staple product of ancient Italy. Cattle-breeding, also, must
have been an important pursuit, since in early times prices were estimated
in oxen and sheep. [11]

A marble cube, two feet high, of about 31-29 B.C.
The month of May,
XXXI days,
The nones fall on the 7th day.
The day has 19-1/2 hours.
The night has 9-1/2 hours
The sun is in the sign of Taurus
The month is under the protection of Apollo.
The corn is weeded
The sheep are shorn
The wool is washed
Young steers are put under the yoke.
The vetch of the meadows is cut.
The lustration of the crops is made.
Sacrifices to Mercury and Flora.]


In such a community of peasants no great inequalities of wealth existed.
Few citizens were very rich; few were very poor. The members of each
household made their own clothing from flax or wool, and fashioned out of
wood and clay what utensils were needed for their simple life. For a long
time the Romans had no coined money whatever. When copper came into use as
currency, it passed from hand to hand in shapeless lumps that required
frequent weighing. It was not until the fourth century that a regular
coinage began. [12] This use of copper as money indicates that gold and
silver were rare among the Romans, and luxury almost unknown.


Hard-working, god-fearing peasants are likely to lead clean and sober
lives. This was certainly true of the early Romans. They were a manly
breed, abstemious in food and drink, iron-willed, vigorous, and strong.
Deep down in the Roman's heart was the proud conviction that Rome should
rule over all her neighbors. For this he freely shed his blood; for this
he bore hardship, however severe, without complaint. Before everything
else, he was a dutiful citizen and a true patriot. Such were the sturdy
men who on their farms in Latium formed the backbone of the Roman state.
Their character has set its mark on history for all time.


The family formed the unit of Roman society. Its most marked feature was
the unlimited authority of the father. In his house he reigned an absolute
king. His wife had no legal rights: he could sell her into slavery or
divorce her at will. Nevertheless, no ancient people honored women more
highly than the Romans. A Roman wife was the mistress of the home, as her
husband was its master. Though her education was not carried far, we often
find the Roman matron taking a lively interest in affairs of state, and
aiding her husband both in politics and business. It was the women, as
well as the men, who helped to make Rome great among the nations. Over his
unmarried daughters and his sons, the Roman father ruled as supreme as
over his wife. He brought up his children to be sober, silent, modest in
their bearing, and, above all, obedient. Their misdeeds he might punish
with penalties as severe as banishment, slavery, or death. As head of the
family he could claim all their earnings; everything they had was his. The
father's great authority ceased only with his death. Then his sons, in
turn, became lords over their families.

[Illustration: CINERARY URNS IN TERRA COTTA (Vatican Museum, Rome)
These receptacles for the ashes of the dead were found in an old cemetery
at Alba Longa They show two forms of the primitive Roman hut.]



The Romans, like the ancient Greeks and the modern Chinese, paid special
veneration to the souls of the dead. These were known by the flattering
name of _manes_, the "pure" or "good ones." The Romans always regarded the
_manes_ as members of the household to which they had belonged on earth.
The living and the dead were thus bound together by the closest ties. The
idea of the family triumphed even over the grave.


The ancient Roman house had only one large room, the _atrium_, where all
members of the family lived together. It was entered by a single door,
which was sacred to the god Janus. On the hearth, opposite the doorway,
the housewife prepared the meals. The fire that ever blazed upon it gave
warmth and nourishment to the inmates. Here dwelt Vesta, the spirit of the
kindling flame. The cupboard where the food was kept came under the charge
of the Penates, who blessed the family store. The house as a whole had its
protecting spirits, called Lares.


The daily worship of these deities took place at the family meal. The
table would be placed at the side of the hearth, and when the father and
his family sat down to it, a little food would be thrown into the flames
and a portion of wine poured out, as an offering to the gods. The images
of the Lares and Penates would also be fetched from the shrine and placed
on the table in token of their presence at the meal. This religion of the
family lasted with little change throughout the entire period of Roman

[Illustration: A VESTAL VIRGIN
Portrait from a statue discovered in the ruins of the temple of Vesta in
the Roman Forum.]


The early Roman state was only an enlarged family, and hence the religion
of the state was modeled after that of the family. Some of the divinities,
such as Janus and Vesta, were taken over with little change from the
domestic worship. The entrance to the Forum formed a shrine of Janus, [13]
which Numa himself was said to have built. The door, or gateway, stood
open in time of war, but shut when Rome was at peace. At the south end of
the Forum stood the round temple of Vesta, containing the sacred hearth of
the city. Here Vesta was served by six virgins of free birth, whose duty
it was to keep the fire always blazing on the altar. If by accident the
fire went out, it must be relighted from a "pure flame," either by
striking a spark with flint or by rubbing together two dry sticks. Such
methods of kindling fire were those familiar to the prehistoric Romans.

[Illustration: SUOVETAURILIA (Louvre, Paris)
The relief pictures an ancient Italian sacrifice of a bull, a ram and a
boar offered to Mars to secure purification from sin. Note the sacred
laurel trees, the two altars, and the officiating magistrate whose head is
covered with the toga. He is sprinkling incense from a box held by an
attendant. Another attendant carries a ewer with the libation. In the rear
is the sacrificer with his ax.]


The Romans worshiped various gods connected with their lives as shepherds,
farmers, and warriors. The chief divinity was Jupiter, who ruled the
heavens and sent rain and sunshine to nourish the crops. The war god Mars
reflected the military character of the Romans. His sacred animal was the
fierce, cruel wolf, his symbols were spears and shields; his altar was the
Campus Martius (Field of Mars) outside the city walls, where the army
assembled in battle array. March, the first month of the old Roman year,
was named in his honor. Some other gods were borrowed from the Greeks,
together with many of the beautiful Greek myths.


The Romans took many precautions, before beginning any enterprise, to find
out what was the will of the gods and how their favor might first be
gained. They did not have oracles, but they paid much attention to omens
of all sorts. A sudden flash of lightning, an eclipse of the sun, a
blazing comet, or an earthquake shock was an omen which awakened
superstitious fear. It indicated the disapproval of the gods. From the
Etruscans the Romans learned to divine the future by examining the
entrails of animal victims. They also borrowed from their northern
neighbors the practice of looking for signs in the number, flight, and
action of birds. To consult such signs was called "taking the auspices."

[Illustration: AN ETRUSCAN AUGUR
Wall painting from a tomb at Tarquinii in Etruria.]

The relief represents the chickens in the act of feeding. The most
favorable omen was secured when the fowls greedily picked up more of the
corn than they could swallow at one time. Their refusal to eat at all was
an omen of disaster.]


Roman priests, who conducted the state religion, did not form a separate
class, as in some Oriental countries. They were chosen, like other
magistrates, from the general body of citizens. A board, or "college," of
six priests had charge of the public auspices. Another board, that of the
pontiffs, regulated the calendar, kept the public annals, and regulated
weights and measures. They were experts in all matters of religious
ceremonial and hence were very important officials. [15]


This old Roman faith was something very different from what we understand
by religion. It had little direct influence on morality. It did not
promise rewards or threaten punishments in a future world. Roman religion
busied itself with the everyday life of man. Just as the household was
bound together by the tie of common worship, so all the citizens were
united in a common reverence for the deities which guarded the state. The
religion of Rome made and held together a nation.



We find in early Rome, as in Homeric Greece, [16] a city-state with its
king, council, and assembly. The king was the father of his people, having
over them the same absolute authority that the house-father held within
the family. The king was assisted by a council of elders, or Senate (Latin
_senes_, "old men"). Its members were chosen by the king and held office
for life. The most influential heads of families belonged to the Senate.
The common people at first took little part in the government, for it was
only on rare occasions that the king summoned them to deliberate with him
in an assembly.


Toward the close of the sixth century, as we have already learned, [17]
the ancient monarchy disappeared from Rome. In place of the lifelong king
two magistrates, named consuls, were elected every year. Each consul had
to share his honor and authority with a colleague who enjoyed the same
power as himself. Unless both agreed, there could be no action. Like the
Spartan kings, [18] the consuls served as checks, the one on the other.
Neither could safely use his position to aim at unlawful rule.


This divided power of the consuls might work very well in times of peace.
During dangerous wars or insurrections it was likely to prove disastrous.
A remedy was found in the temporary revival of the old kingship under a
new name. When occasion required, one of the consuls, on the advice of the
Senate, appointed a dictator. The consuls then gave up their authority and
the people put their property and lives entirely at the dictator's
disposal. During his term of office, which could not exceed six months,
the state was under martial law. Throughout Roman history there were many
occasions when a dictatorship was created to meet a sudden emergency.


The Roman state, during the regal age, seems to have been divided between
an aristocracy and a commons. The nobles were called patricians, [19] and
the common people were known as plebeians. [20] The patricians occupied a
privileged position, since they alone sat in the Senate and served as
priests, judges, and magistrates. In fact, they controlled society, and
the common people found themselves excluded from much of the religious,
legal, and political life of the Roman city. Under these circumstances it
was natural for the plebeians to agitate against the patrician monopoly of
government. The struggle between the two orders of society lasted about
two centuries.


A few years after the establishment of the republic the plebeians
compelled the patricians to allow them to have officers of their own,
called tribunes, as a means of protection. There were ten tribunes,
elected annually by the plebeians. Any tribune could veto, that is,
forbid, the act of a magistrate which seemed to bear harshly on a citizen.
To make sure that a tribune's orders would be respected, his person was
made sacred and a solemn curse was pronounced upon the man who injured him
or interrupted him in the performance of his duties. The tribune's
authority, however, extended only within the city and a mile beyond its
walls. He was quite powerless against the consul in the field.


We next find the plebeians struggling for equality before the law. Just as
in ancient Athens, [21] the early Roman laws had never been written down
or published. About half a century after the plebeians had obtained the
tribunes, they forced the patricians to give them written laws. A board of
ten men, known as decemvirs, was appointed to frame a legal code, binding
equally on both patricians and plebeians. The story goes that this
commission studied the legislation of the Greek states of southern Italy,
and even went to Athens to examine some of Solon's laws which were still
in force. The laws framed by the decemvirs were engraved on twelve bronze
tablets and set up in the Forum. A few sentences from this famous code
have come down to us in rude, unpolished Latin. They mark the beginning of
what was to be Rome's greatest gift to civilization--her legal system.

A consul sat on the curule chair. The _fasces_ (axes in a bundle of rods)
symbolized his power to flog and behead offenders.]


The hardest task of the plebeians was to secure the right of holding the
great offices of state. Eventually, however, they gained entrance to
Senate and became eligible to the consulship and other magistracies and to
the priesthoods. By the middle of the third century the plebeians and
patricians, equal before the law and with equal privileges, formed one
compact body of citizens in the Roman state.


The Roman state called itself a republic--_respublica_--"a thing of the
people." Roman citizens made the laws and elected public officers. Though
the people in their gatherings had now become supreme, their power was
really much limited by the fact that very little discussion of a proposed
measure was allowed. This formed a striking contrast to the vigorous
debating which went on in the Athenian Assembly. [22] Roman citizens could
not frame, criticize, or amend public measures; they could only vote "yes"
or "no" to proposals made to them by a magistrate.


Rome had many magistrates. Besides the two consuls and an occasional
dictator there were the ten tribunes, the praetors, who served as judges,
and the quaestors, or keepers of the treasury. The two censors were also
very important officers. It was their business to make an enumeration or
census of the citizens and to assess property for taxation. The censors
almost always were reverend seniors who had held the consulship and
enjoyed a reputation for justice and wisdom. Their office grew steadily in
importance, especially after the censors began to exercise an oversight of
the private life of the Romans. They could expel a senator from his seat
for immorality and could deprive any citizen of his vote. The word
"censorious," meaning faultfinding, is derived from the name of these
ancient officials.


The authority of the magistrates was much limited by the Senate. This body
contained about three hundred members, who held their seats generally for
life. When vacancies occurred, they were filled, as a rule, by those who
had previously held one or more of the higher magistracies. There sat in
the Senate every man who, as statesman, general, or diplomatist, had
served his country well.


The Senate furnished an admirable school for debate. Any senator could
speak as long and as often as he chose. The opportunities for discussion
were numerous, for all weighty matters came before this august assemblage.
It managed finances and public works. It looked after the state religion.
It declared and conducted war, received ambassadors from foreign
countries, made alliances, and administered conquered territories. The
Senate formed the real governing body of the republic.


The Senate proved not unworthy of its high position. For two centuries,
while Rome was winning dominion over Italy and the Mediterranean, that
body held the wisest and noblest Romans of the time. To these men office
meant a public trust--an opportunity to serve their country with
distinction and honor. The Senate, in its best days, was a splendid
example of the foresight, energy, and wisdom of republican Rome. An
admiring foreigner called it "an assembly of kings." [23]

[Illustration: A SCENE IN SICILY
Taormina, on the Sicilian coast, thirty one miles southwest of Messina.
The ruins are those of a theater, founded by the Greeks, but much altered
in Roman times. The view of Aetna from this site is especially fine.]




The first centuries of the republic were filled with constant warfare. The
Romans needed all their skill, bravery, and patriotism to keep back the
Etruscans on the north, and the wild tribes of the Apennines. About 390
B.C. the state was brought near to destruction by an invasion of the
Gauls. [24] These barbarians, whose huge bulk and enormous weapons struck
terror to the hearts of their adversaries, poured through the Alpine
passes and ravaged far and wide. At the river Allia, only a few miles from
Rome, they annihilated a Roman army and then captured and burned the city
itself. But the Gallic tide receded as swiftly as it had come, and Rome
rose from her ashes mightier than ever. Half a century after the Gallic
invasion she was able to subdue her former allies, the Latins, and to
destroy their league. The Latin War, as it is called, ended in 338 B.C.,
the year of the fateful battle of Chaeronea in Greece. [25] By this time
Rome ruled in Latium and southern Etruria and had begun to extend her sway
over Campania. There remained only one Italian people to contest with her
the supremacy of the peninsula--the Samnites.


The Samnites were the most vigorous and warlike race of central Italy.
While the Romans were winning their way in Latium, the Samnites were also
entering on a career of conquest. They coveted the fertile Campanian plain
with its luxurious cities, Cumae and Neapolis, which the Greeks had
founded. The Romans had also fixed their eyes on the same region, and so a
contest between the two peoples became inevitable. In numbers, courage,
and military skill Romans and Samnites were well matched. Nearly half a
century of hard fighting was required before Rome gained the upper hand.
The close of the Samnite wars found Rome supreme in central Italy. Her
authority was now recognized from the upper Apennines to the foot of the


The wealthy cities of southern Italy offered a tempting prize to Roman
greed. Before long many of them received Roman garrisons and accepted the
rule of the great Latin republic. Tarentum, [26] however, the most
important of the Greek colonies, held jealously to her independence.
Unable single-handed to face the Romans, Tarentum turned to Greece for
aid. She called on Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, the finest soldier of his age.
Pyrrhus led twenty-five thousand mercenary soldiers into Italy, an army
almost as large as Alexander's. The Romans could not break the bristling
ranks of the Greek phalanx, and they shrank back in terror before the huge
war elephants which Pyrrhus had brought with him. The invader won the
first battle, but lost many of his best troops. He then offered peace on
condition that the Romans should give up their possessions in southern
Italy. The Senate returned the proud reply that Rome would not treat with
the enemy while he stood on Italian soil. A second battle was so bitterly
contested that Pyrrhus declared, "Another such victory, and I am lost."
[27] Weary of the struggle, Pyrrhus now crossed over to Sicily to aid his
countrymen against the Carthaginians. The rapid progress of the Roman arms
called him back, only to meet a severe defeat. Pyrrhus then withdrew in
disgust to Greece; Tarentum fell; and Rome established her rule over
southern Italy.


The triumph over Pyrrhus and the conquest of Magna Graecia mark a decisive
moment in the history of Rome. Had Pyrrhus won Italy, as well as Asia and
Egypt, might have become a Greek land, ruled by Hellenistic kings. Now it
was clear that Rome, having met the invader so bravely, was to remain
supreme in the Italian peninsula. She was the undisputed mistress of Italy
from the strait of Messina northward to the Arnus and the Rubicon.
Etruscans, Latins, Samnites, and Greeks acknowledged her sway. The central
city of the peninsula had become the center of a united Italy. [28]

[Illustration: Map, THE EXPANSION of ROMAN DOMINIONS in ITALY, 500-264



Italy did not form a single state under Roman rule. About one-third of
Italy composed the strictly Roman territory occupied by Roman citizens.
Since ancient Rome knew nothing of the great principle of representative
government, [29] it was necessary that citizens who wished to vote or to
stand for office should visit in person the capital city. Few men, of
course, would journey many miles to Rome in order to exercise their
political rights. The elections, moreover, were not all held on one day,
as with us, but consuls, praetors, and other magistrates were chosen on
different days, while meetings of the assemblies might be held at any time
of the year. A country peasant who really tried to fulfill his duties as a
citizen would have had little time for anything else. In practice,
therefore, the city populace at Rome had the controlling voice in ordinary
legislation. The Romans were never able to remedy this grave defect in
their political system. We shall see later what evils government without
representation brought in its train.


Over against this body of Roman citizens were the Italian peoples. Rome
was not yet ready to grant them citizenship, but she did not treat them as
complete subjects. The Italians were called the "allies and friends" of
the Roman people. They lost the right of declaring war on one another, of
making treaties, and of coining money. Rome otherwise allowed them to
govern themselves, never calling on them for tribute and only requiring
that they should furnish soldiers for the Roman army in time of war. These
allies occupied a large part of the Italian peninsula.


The Romans very early began to establish what were called Latin colonies
[30] in various parts of Italy. The colonists were usually veteran
soldiers or poor plebeians colonies who wanted farms of their own. When
the list of colonists was made up, they all marched forth in military
array to lake possession of their new homes and build their city. The
Latin colonies were really offshoots of Rome and hence were always
faithful to her interests. Scattered everywhere in Italy they formed so
many permanent camps or garrisons to keep the conquered peoples in
subjection. At the same time they helped mightily in spreading the Latin
language, law, and civilization throughout the peninsula.


All the colonies were united with one another and with Rome by an
extensive system of roads. The first great road, called the Appian Way,
was made during the period of the Samnite wars. It united the city of Rome
with Capua and secured the hold of Rome on Campania. The Appian Way was
afterwards carried across the Apennines to Brundisium on the Adriatic,
whence travelers embarked for the coast of Greece. Other trunk lines were
soon built in Italy, and from them a network of smaller highways was
extended to every part of the peninsula.


[Illustration: THE APPIAN WAY
A view in the neighborhood of Rome. The ancient construction of the road
and its massive paving blocks of lava have been laid bare by modern
excavations. The width of the roadway proper was only fifteen feet. The
arches, seen in the background, belong to the aqueduct built by the
emperor Claudius in 52 A.D.]


Roman roads had a military origin. Like the old Persian roads [31] they
were intended to facilitate the rapid dispatch of troops, supplies, and
official messages into every corner of Italy. Hence the roads ran, as much
as possible, in straight lines and on easy grades. Nothing was allowed to
obstruct their course. Engineers cut through or tunneled the hills,
bridged rivers and gorges, and spanned low, swampy lands with viaducts of
stone. So carefully were these roads constructed that some stretches of
them are still in good condition. These magnificent highways were free to
the public. They naturally became avenues of trade and travel and so
served to bring the Italian peoples into close touch with Rome.


Rome thus began in Italy that wonderful process of Romanization which she
was to extend later to Spain, Gaul, and Britain. She began to make, the
Italian peoples like herself in blood, speech, customs, and manners. More
and more the Italians, under Rome's leadership, came to look upon
themselves as one people--the people who wore the gown, or _toga_, as
contrasted with the barbarous and trousers-wearing Gauls.

[Illustration: A ROMAN LEGIONARY
From a monument of the imperial age. The soldier wears a metal helmet, a
leather doublet with shoulder-pieces, a metal-plated belt, and a sword
hanging from a strap thrown over the left shoulder. His left hand holds a
large shield, his right, a heavy javelin.]



While the Romans were conquering Italy, they were making many improvements
in their army. All citizens between the ages of seventeen and forty-six
were liable to active service. These men were mainly landowners--hardy,
intelligent peasants--who knew how to fight and how to obey orders. An
army in the field consisted of one or more legions. A legion included
about three thousand heavy-armed footmen, twelve hundred light infantry,
and three hundred horsemen. After the conquest of Italy the states allied
with Rome had to furnish soldiers, chiefly archers and cavalry. These
auxiliaries, as they were called, were at least as numerous as
legionaries. The Romans, in carrying on war, employed not only their
citizens but also their subjects.


The legion offered a sharp contrast to the unwieldy phalanx. [32] Roman
soldiers usually fought in an open order, with the heavy-armed infantry
arranged in three lines: first, the younger men; next, the more
experienced warriors; and lastly the veterans. A battle began with
skirmishing by the light troops, which moved to the front and discharged
their darts to harass the enemy. The companies of the first line next
flung their javelins at a distance of from ten to twenty paces and then,
wielding their terrible short swords, came at once to close quarters with
the foe. It was like a volley of musketry followed by a fierce bayonet
charge. If the attack proved unsuccessful, the wearied soldiers withdrew
to the rear through the gaps in the line behind. The second line now
marched forward to the attack; if it was repulsed, there was still the
third line of steady veterans for the last and decisive blow.

[Illustration: A ROMAN STANDARD BEARER (Bonn Museum)
From a gravestone of the first century A.D. The standard consists of a
spear crowned with a wreath, below which is a crossbar bearing pendant
acorns Then follow, in order, a metal disk, Jupiter's eagle standing on a
thunderbolt, a crescent moon, an amulet, and a large tassel.]


A very remarkable part of the Roman military system consisted in the use
of fortified camps. Every time the army halted, if only for a single
night, the legionaries intrenched themselves within a square inclosure. It
was protected by a ditch, an earthen mound, and a palisade of stakes. This
camp formed a little city with its streets, its four gates, a forum, and
the headquarters of the general. Behind the walls of such a fortress an
army was always at liberty to accept or decline a battle. As a proverb
said, the Romans often conquered by "sitting still."


Roman soldiers lived under the strictest discipline. To their general they
owed absolute, unquestioning obedience. He could condemn them to death
without trial. The sentinel who slept on his watch, the legionary who
disobeyed an order or threw away his arms on the field of battle, might be
scourged with rods and then beheaded. The men were encouraged to deeds of
valor by various marks of distinction, which the general presented to them
in the presence of the entire army. The highest reward was the civic crown
of oak leaves, granted to one who had saved the life of a fellow-soldier
on the battle field.


The state sometimes bestowed on a victorious general the honor of a
triumph. This was a grand parade and procession in the city of Rome. First
came the magistrates and senators, wagons laden with booty, and captives
in chains. Then followed the conqueror himself, clad in a gorgeous robe
and riding in a four-horse chariot. Behind him marched the soldiers, who
sang a triumphal hymn. The long procession passed through the streets to
the Forum and mounted the Capitoline Hill. There the general laid his
laurel crown upon the knees of the statue of Jupiter, as a thank offering
for victory. Meanwhile, the captives who had just appeared in the
procession were strangled in the underground prison of the Capitol. It was
a day of mingled joy and tragedy.


The Romans, it has been said, were sometimes vanquished in battle, but
they were always victorious in war. With the short swords of her
disciplined soldiers, her flexible legion, and her fortified camps, Rome
won dominion in Italy and began the conquest of the world.


1. On an outline map indicate the Roman dominions in 509 B.C.; in 338
B.C.; in 264 B.C.

2. Make a list of the Roman magistrates mentioned in this chapter, and of
the powers exercised by each.

3. Give the meaning of our English words "patrician," "plebeian,"
"censor," "dictator," "tribune," "augury," "auspices," and "veto."

4. Connect the proper events with the following dates: 753 B.C.; 509 B.C.;
and 338 B.C.

5. Why have Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica been called the "suburbs of

6. "Italy and Greece may be described as standing back to back to each
other." Explain this statement.

7. What is the origin of our names of the two months, January and March?

8. Compare the early Roman with the early Greek religion as to (a)
likenesses; (b) differences.

9. Why have the consuls been called "joint kings for one year"?

10. What do you understand by "martial law"? Under what circumstances is
it sometimes declared in the United States?

11. Compare the position of the Roman patricians with that of the Athenian
nobles before the legislation of Draco and Solon.

12. What officers in American cities perform some of the duties of the
censors, praetors, and aediles?

13. In the Roman and Spartan constitutions contrast: (a) consuls and
kings; (b) censors and ephors; and (c) the two senates.

14. Compare the Roman Senate and the Senate of the United States as to
size, term of office of members, conditions of membership, procedure,
functions, and importance.

15. How far can the phrase, "government of the people, by the people, for
the people," be applied to the Roman Republic at this period?

16. What conditions made it easy for the Romans to conquer Magna Graecia
and difficult for them to subdue the Samnites?

17. What is a "Pyrrhic victory"?

18. Compare the nature of Roman rule over Italy with that of Athens over
the Delian League.

19. Trace on the map, page 156, the Appian and Flaminian ways, noting some
of the cities along the routes and the terminal points of each road.

20. Explain: "all roads lead to Rome."

21. Contrast the legion and the phalanx as to arrangement, armament, and
method of fighting.

22. "Rome seems greater than her greatest men." Comment on this statement.


[1] Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter xiv, "Legends of Early

[2] See page 67.

[3] See page 28.

[4] See pages 53, 61.

[5] Naples, the ancient Neapolis, was a colony of Cumae. See page 89.

[6] See the map facing page 50.

[7] The Romans believed that their city was founded in 753 B.C., from
which year all Roman dates were reckoned.

[8] See the map, page 293.

[9] See page 146.

[10] Cato, _De agricultura_, I.

[11] See page 6.

[12] See the illustration, page 7.

[13] Since a door (_janua_) had two sides, Janus, the door god, was
represented with the curious double face which appears on Roman coins (See
the plate facing page 134) The month of January in the Julian calendar was
named for him.

[14] Latin _auspicium_, from _auspex_, a bird seer.

[15] The title of the president of the pontiffs, _Pontifex Maximus_
(Supreme Pontiff), is still that of the pope. See page 364.

[16] See page 81.

[17] See page 143.

[18] See page 83.

[19] From the Latin _patres_, "fathers."

[20] Latin _plebs_, "the crowd."

[21] See page 85.

[22] See page 105.

[23] The four letters inscribed on Roman military standards indicate the
important place held by the Senate. They are _S. P. Q. R._, standing for
_Senatus Populusque Romanus_, "The Senate and the People of Rome."

[24] See page 129.

[25] See page 118.

[26] See page 89.

[27] Plutarch, _Pyrrhus_, 21.

[28] It should be noticed, however, that as yet Rome controlled only the
central and southern parts of what is the modern kingdom of Italy. Two
large divisions of that kingdom, which every Italian now regards as
essential to its unity, were in other hands--the Po valley and the island
of Sicily.

[29] See page 106.

[30] Latin colonists did not have the right of voting in the assemblies at
Rome. This privilege was enjoyed, however, by members of the "Roman"
colonies, which were planted mainly along the coast. See the map, page

[31] See page 40.

[32] See page 116.





The conquest of Italy made Rome one of the five leading states of the
Mediterranean world. In the East there were the kingdoms of Macedonia,
Syria, and Egypt, which had inherited the dominions of Alexander the
Great. In the West there were Carthage and Rome, once in friendly
alliance, but now to become the bitterest foes. Rome had scarcely reached
the headship of united Italy before she was involved in a life-and-death
struggle with this rival power. The three wars between them are known as
the Punic wars; they are the most famous contests that ancient history
records; and they ended in the complete destruction of Carthage.


More than a century before the traditional date at which Rome rose upon
her seven hills, Phoenician colonists laid the foundations of a second
Tyre. The new city occupied an admirable site, for it bordered on rich
farming land and had the largest harbor of the north African coast. A
position at the junction of the eastern and western basins of the
Mediterranean gave it unsurpassed opportunities for trade. At the same
time Carthage was far enough away to be out of the reach of Persian or
Macedonian conquerors.


By the middle of the third century B.C. the Carthaginians had formed an
imposing commercial empire. Their African dominions included the strip of
coast from Cyrene westward to the strait of Gibraltar. Their colonies
covered the shores of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and southern Spain. The
western half of the Mediterranean had become a Carthaginian lake.


Before the opening of the Punic wars Carthage had been much enlarged by
emigrants from Tyre, after the capture of that city by Alexander. [2] The
Phoenician colonists kept their own language, customs, and beliefs and did
not mingle with the native African peoples. Carthage in form was a
republic, but the real power lay in the hands of one hundred men, selected
from the great merchant families. It was a government by capitalists who
cared very little for the welfare of the poor freemen and slaves over whom
they ruled. The wealth of Carthage enabled her to raise huge armies of
mercenary soldiers and to build warships which in size, number, and
equipment surpassed those of any other Mediterranean state. Mistress of a
wide realm, strong both by land and sea, Carthage was now to prove herself
Rome's most dangerous foe.

The Roman admiral, Duilius, who won a great victory in 260 B.C., was
honored by a triumphal column set up in the Forum. The monument was
adorned with the brazen beaks of the captured Carthaginian vessels. Part
of the inscription, reciting the achievements of the Roman fleet, has been


The First Punic War was a contest for Sicily. The Carthaginians aimed to
establish their rule over that island, which from its situation seems to
belong almost as much to Africa as to Italy. But Rome, having become
supreme in Italy, also cast envious eyes on Sicily. She believed, too,
that the Carthaginians, if they should conquer Sicily, would sooner or
later invade southern Italy. The fear for her possessions, as well as the
desire to gain new ones, led Rome to fling down the gage of battle.


The contest between the two rival states began in 264 B.C. and lasted
nearly twenty-four years. The Romans overran Sicily and even made an
unsuccessful invasion of Africa, but the main struggle was on the sea.
Here at first the Romans were at a disadvantage, for they had no ships as
large and powerful as those of the Carthaginians. With characteristic
energy, however, they built several great war fleets and finally won a
complete victory over the enemy. The treaty of peace provided that
Carthage should abandon Sicily, return all prisoners without ransom, and
pay a heavy indemnity.


Carthage, though beaten, had not been humbled. She had lost Sicily and the
commercial monopoly of the Mediterranean. But she was not ready to abandon
all hope of recovering her former supremacy. The peace amounted to no more
than an armed truce. Both parties were well aware that the real conflict
was yet to come. The war, however, was delayed for nearly a quarter of a
century. During this interval Rome strengthened her military position by
seizing the islands of Sardinia and Corsica from Carthage and by
conquering the Gauls in the Po valley. The Carthaginians, meanwhile, began
to create a new empire in Spain, whose silver mines would supply fresh
means for another contest and whose hardy tribes would furnish soldiers as
good as the Roman legionaries.



The steady advance of the Carthaginian arms in Spain caused much
uneasiness in Rome and at length led that city to declare war. Carthage
herself was not unwilling for a second trial of strength. Her leading
general, Hannibal, who had been winning renown in Spain, believed that the
Carthaginians were now in a position to wage an aggressive war against
their mighty rival. And so the two great Mediterranean powers, each
confident of success, renewed the struggle for supremacy.


At the opening of the conflict Hannibal was not quite twenty-seven years
of age. While yet a mere child, so the story went, his father had led him
to the altar, and bade him swear by the Carthaginian gods eternal enmity
to Rome. He followed his father to Spain and there learned all the duties
of a soldier. As a master of the art of war, he ranks with Alexander the
Great. The Macedonian king conquered the world for the glory of conquest;
Hannibal, burning with patriotism, fought to destroy the power which had
humbled his native land. He failed; and his failure left Carthage weaker
than he found her. Few men have possessed a more dazzling genius than
Hannibal, but his genius was not employed for the lasting good of


The Romans planned to conduct the war in Spain and Africa, at a distance
from their own shores. Hannibal's bold movements totally upset these
calculations. The Carthaginian general had determined that the conflict
should take place in the Italian peninsula itself. Since Roman fleets now
controlled the Mediterranean, it was necessary for Hannibal to lead his
army, with its supplies, equipment, and beasts of burden, by the long and
dangerous land route from Spain to Italy. In the summer of 218 B.C.
Hannibal set out from Spain with a large force of infantry and cavalry,
besides a number of elephants. Beyond the river Ebro he found himself in
hostile territory, through which the soldiers had to fight their way. To
force the passage of the Pyrenees and the Alps cost him more than half his
original army. When, after a five months' march he stood on the soil of
Italy, Hannibal had scarcely twenty-five thousand troops with which to
meet the immense power of Rome--a power that, given time, could muster to
her defense more than half a million disciplined soldiers.


The Romans were surprised by the boldness and rapidity of Hannibal's
movements. They had expected to conduct the war far away in foreign lands;
they now knew that they must fight for their own homes and firesides. The
first battles were complete victories for the Carthaginians and opened the
road to Rome. Hannibal's plans, however, did not include a siege of the
capital. He would not shatter his victorious army in an assault on a
fortified town. Hannibal's real object was to bring the Italians over to
his side, to ruin Rome through the revolts of her allies. But now he
learned, apparently for the first time, that Italy was studded with Latin
colonies, [3] each a miniature Rome, each prepared to resist to the bitter
end. Not a single city opened its gates to the invader. On such solid
foundations rested Roman rule in Italy.


The Senate faced the crisis with characteristic energy. New forces were
raised and intrusted to a dictator, [4] Quintus Fabius Maximus. He refused
to meet Hannibal in a pitched battle, but followed doggedly his enemy's
footsteps, meanwhile drilling his soldiers to become a match for the
Carthaginian veterans. This strategy was little to the taste of the Roman
populace, who nicknamed Fabius _Cunctator_, "the Laggard." However, it
gave Rome a brief breathing space, until her preparations to crush the
invader should be completed.

[Illustration: A CARTHAGINAN OR ROMAN HELMET (British Museum, London)
Found on the battle field of Cannae.]



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