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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/217

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COMPOUND POLITICAL HEADS.

The Romans exemplify the rise of a compound headship under conditions which, though partially different from those the Greeks were subject to, were allied fundamentally. In its earliest-known state, Latium was occupied by village-communities, which were united into cantons; while these cantons formed a league headed by Alba—a canton regarded as the oldest and most eminent. This combination was for joint defense; as is shown by the fact that each group of clan-villages composing a canton had an elevated stronghold in common, and also by the fact that the league of cantons had for its center and place of refuge Alba, the most strongly placed as well as the oldest. The component cantons of the league were so far independent that there were wars between them; whence we may infer that when they cooperated for joint defense it was on substantially equal terms. Thus, before Rome existed, the people who formed it had been habituated to a kind of life such that, with great subordination in each family and clan, and partial subordination within each canton (which was governed by a prince, council of elders, and assembly of warriors), there went a union of heads of cantons, who were in no degree subordinate one to another. When the inhabitants of three of these cantons, the Ramnians, Tities, and Luceres, began to occupy the tract on which Rome stands, they brought with them their political organization. The oldest Roman patricians bore the names of rural clans belonging to these cantons. Whether, when seating themselves on the Palatine Hills and on the Quirinal, they preserved their cantonal divisions, is not clear, though it seems probable a priori. But, however this may be, there is proof that they fortified themselves against one another, as

    especially strong where the effect is one of which the causation is involved. Our own time has furnished an illustration in the ascription of Corn-law Repeal to Sir Robert Peel, and after him to Messrs. Cobden and Bright, leaving Colonel Thompson unnamed. In the next generation the man who for a time carried on the fight single-handed, and forged sundry of the weapons used by the victors, will be unheard of in connection with it. It is not enough, however, to suspect that Lykurgus was simply the finisher of other men's work. We may reasonably suspect that the work was that of no man, but simply that of the needs and conditions. This may be seen in the institution of the public mess. If we ask what will happen with a small people who, for generations spreading as conquerors, have a contempt for all industry, and who, when not at war, pass their time in exercises fitting them for war, it becomes manifest that at first the daily assembling to carry on these exercises will entail the daily bringing of provisions by each. As happens in those picnics in which all who join contribute to the common repast, a certain obligation respecting qualities and quantities will naturally arise—an obligation which, repeated daily, will pass from custom into law; ending in a specification of the kinds and amounts of food. Further, it is to be expected that as the law thus arises in an age when food is coarse and unvaried, the simplicity of the diet, originally unavoidable, will eventually be considered as intended—as an ascetic regimen deliberately devised. (When writing this I was not aware that, as pointed out by Professor Paley in "Fraser's Magazine," for February, 1881, that among the Greeks of later times it was common to have dinners to which each guest brought his share of provisions, and that those who contributed little and consumed much were objects of satire. This fact greatly increases the probability that the Spartan mess originated as suggested.)