of life” (Mommsen, Hist. Rome). The obligation of the father to the sons was strongly felt. The family, past, present and future, was conceived as one and indivisible. Each succeeding generation had a right to the care of its predecessor in mind, body and estate. The training of the sons was distinctly a home and not a school training. Brought up by the father and constantly at his side, they learnt spontaneously the habits and traditions of the family. The home was their school. By their father they were introduced into public life, and though still remaining under his power during his lifetime, they became citizens, and their relation to the state was direct. The nation was a nation of yeomen. Only agriculture and warfare were considered honourable employments. The father and sons worked outdoors on the farm, employing little or no slave labour; the wife and daughters indoors at spinning and weaving. The drudgery of the household was done by domestic slaves. The father was the working head of a toiling household. Their chief gods were the same as those of early Greece—Zeus-Diovis and Hestia-Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home. Out of this solid, compact family Roman society was built, and so long as the family was strong attachment to the service of the state was intense. The res publica, the common weal, the phrase and the thought, meet one at every turn; and never were citizens more patient and tenacious combatants on their country’s behalf. The men were soldiers in an unpaid militia and were constantly engaged in wars with the rivals of Rome, leaving home and family for their campaigns and returning to them in the winter. With a hardness and closeness inconsistent with—indeed, opposed to—the charitable spirit, they combined the strength of character and sense of justice without which charity becomes sentimental and unsocial. In the development of the family, and thus, indirectly, in the development of charity, they stand for settled obligation and unrelenting duty.
Under the protection of the head of the family “in dependent freedom” lived the clients. They were in a middle position between the freemen and the slaves. The relation between patron and client lasted for several generations; and there were many clients. Their number increased as state after state was conquered, and they formed the plebs, in Rome the plebs urbana, the lower orders of the city.
In relation to our subject the important factors are the family, the plebs and slavery.
Two processes were at work from an early date, before the first agrarian law (486 B.C.): the impoverishment of the plebs and the increase of slavery. The former led to the annona civica, or the free supply of corn to the citizens, and to the sportula or the organized food-supply for poor clients, and ultimately to the alimentarii pueri, the maintenance of children of citizens by voluntary and imperial bounty. The latter (slavery) was the standing witness that, as self-support was undermined, the task of relief became hopeless, and the impoverished citizen, as the generations passed, became in turn dependant, beggar, pauper and slave.
The great patrician families—“an oligarchy of warriors and slaveholders”—did not themselves engage in trade, but, entering on large speculations, employed as their agents their clients, libertini or freedmen, and, later, their slaves. The constant wars, for which the soldiers of a local militia were eventually retained in permanent service, broke up the yeomanry and very greatly reduced their number. Whole families of citizens became impoverished, and their lands were in consequence sold to the large patrician families, members of which had acquired lucrative posts, or prospered in their speculations, and assumed possession of the larger part of the land, the ager publicus, acquired by the state through conquest. The city had always been the centre of the patrician families, the patron of the trading libertini and other dependants. To it now flocked as well the metoeci, the resident aliens from the conquered states, and the poorer citizens, landless and unable for social reasons to turn to trade. There was thus in Rome a growing multitude of aliens, dispossessed yeomen and dependent clients. Simultaneously slavery increased very largely after the second Punic War (202 B.C.). Every conquest brought slaves into the market, for whom ready purchasers were found. The slaves took the place of the freemen upon the old family estates, and the free country people became extinct. Husbandry gave place to shepherding. The estates were thrown into large domains (latifundia), managed by bailiffs and worked by slaves, often fettered or bound by chains, lodged in cells in houses of labour (ergastula), and sometimes cared for when ill in infirmaries (valetudinaria). In Crete and Sparta the slaves toiled that the mass of citizens might have means and leisure. In Rome the slave class was organized for private and not for common ends. In Athens the citizens were paid for their services; at Rome no offices were paid. Thus the citizen at Rome was, one might almost say, forced into a dependence on the public corn, for as the large properties swallowed up the smaller, and the slave dispossessed the citizen, a population grew up unfit for rural toil, disinclined to live by methods that pride considered sordid, unstable and pleasure-loving, and yet a serious political factor, as dependent on the rich for their enjoyments as they were on their patrons or the prefect of the corn in the city for their food.
It is estimated, from extremely difficult and uncertain data, that the population of Rome in the time of Augustus was about 1,200,000 or 1,500,000. At that time the plebs urbana numbered 320,000. If this be multiplied by three, to give a low average of dependants, wives and children, this section of the population would number 960,000. The remainder of the 1,500,000, 540,000, would consist of (a) slaves, and (b) those, the comparatively few, who would be members of the great clan-families (gentes). Proportionately to Attica this seems to allow too small a population of slaves. But however this be, we may picture the population of Rome as consisting chiefly of a few patrician families ministered to by a very large number of slaves, and a populace of needy citizens, in whose ranks it was profitable for an outsider to find a place in order that he might participate in the advantages of state maintenance.
In Rome the clan-family became the dominant political factor. As in England and elsewhere in the middle ages, and even in later times, the family, in these circumstances, assumes an influence which is out of harmony with the commonThe annona civica. good. The social advantage of the family lies in its self-maintenance, its home charities, and its moral and educational force, but if its separate interests are made supreme, it becomes uncharitable and unsocial. In Rome this was the line of development. The stronger clan-families crushed the weaker, and became the “oligarchy of warriors and slaveholders.” In the same spirit they possessed themselves of the ager publicus. The land obtained by the Romans by right of conquest was public. It belonged to the state, and to a yeoman state it was the most valuable acquisition. At first part of it was sold and part was distributed to citizens without property and destitute (cf. Plutarch, Tib. Gracchus). At a very early date, however, the patrician families acquired possession of much of it and held it at a low rental, and thus the natural outlet for a conquering farmer race was monopolized by one class, the richer clan-families. This injustice was in part remedied by the establishment of colonies, in which the emigrant citizens received sufficient portions of land. But these colonies were comparatively few, and after each conquest the rich families made large purchases, while the smaller proprietors, whose services as soldiers were constantly required, were unable to attend to their lands or to retain possession of them. To prevent this (367 B.C.) the Licinian law was passed, by which ownership in land was limited to 500 jugera, about 312 acres. This law was ignored, however, and more than two centuries later the evil, the double evil of the dispossession of the citizen farmer and of slavery, reached a crisis. The slave war broke out (134 B.C.) and (133 B.C.) Tiberius Gracchus made his attempt to re-endow the Roman citizens with the lands which they had acquired by conquest. He undertook what was essentially a charitable or philanthropic movement, which was set on foot too late. He had passed through Tuscany, and seen with resentment and pity the deserted country where the foreign slaves and barbarians were now the only shepherds and cultivators. He had been brought up under the influence of Greek Stoical thought, with which, almost in spite of itself, there was always associated an element of pity. The problem which he desired to solve, though larger in scale, was essentially the same as that with which Solon and Peisistratus had dealt successfully. At bottom the issue lay between private property, considered as the basis of family life for the great bulk of the community, with personal independence, and pauperism, with the annona or slavery. In 133 B.C. Tiberius Gracchus became tribune. To expand society on the lines of private property, he proposed the enforcement of “the Licinian