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This book is a continuation of “The Glory that was Greece,” written with the same purpose and from the same point of view. The point of view is that of humanity and the progress of civilisation. The value of Rome’s contribution to the lasting welfare of mankind is the test of what is to be emphasised or neglected. Hence the instructed reader will find a deliberate attempt to adjust the historical balance which has, I venture to think, been unfairly deflected by excessive deference to literary and scholastic traditions. The Roman histories of the nineteenth century were wont to stop short with the Republic, because “Classical Latin” ceased with Cicero and Ovid. They followed Livy and Tacitus in regarding the Republic as the hey-day of Roman greatness, and the Empire as merely a distressing sequel beginning and ending in tragedy. From the standpoint of civilisation this is an absurdity. The Republic was a mere preface. The Republic until its last century did nothing for the world, except to win battles whereby the road was opened for the subsequent advance of civilisation. Even the stern tenacity of the Roman defence against Hannibal, admirable as it was, can only be called superior to the still more heroic defence of Jerusalem by the Jews, because the former was successful and the latter failed. From the Republican standpoint Rome is immeasurably inferior to Athens. In short, what seemed important and glorious to Livy will not necessarily remain so after the lapse of nearly two thousand years. Rome is so vast a fact, and of consequences so far-reaching, that every generation may claim a share in interpreting her anew. There is the Rome of the ecclesiastic, of the diplomat, of the politician, of the soldier, of the economist. There is the Rome of the literary scholar, and the Rome of the archæologist. It is wonderful how this mighty and eternal city varies with her various historians. Diodorus of Sicily, to whom we owe most of her early history, was seeking mainly to flatter the claims of the Romans to a heroic past. Polybius, the trained Greek politician of the second century B.C., was writing Roman history in order to prove to his fellow-Greeks his theory of the basis of political success. Livy was seeking a solace for the miseries of his own day in contemplating the virtues of an idealised past. Tacitus, during an interval of mitigated despotism, strove to exhibit the crimes and follies of autocracy. These were both rhetoricians, trained in the school of Greek democratic oratory. Edward Gibbon, too (I write as one who cannot change trains at Lausanne without emotion), saw the Empire from the standpoint of eighteenth-century liberalism and materialism. Theodor Mommsen made Rome the setting for his Bismarckian Cæsarism, and finally, M. Boissier has enlivened her by peopling her streets with Parisians. It is, in fact, difficult to depict so huge a landscape without taking and revealing an individual point of view. There is always something fresh to see even in the much-thumbed records of Rome. Although a large part of this book is written directly from the original sources, and none of it without frequent reference to them, it is, in the main, frankly a derivative history intended for readers who are not specialists. Except Pelham’s Outlines, which are almost exclusively political, there is no other book in English, so far as I am aware, which attempts to give a view of the whole course of ancient Roman History within the limits of a single volume, and yet the Empire without the Republic is almost as incomplete as the Republic without the Empire. As for the Empire, although nothing can supersede or attempt to replace The Decline and Fall, yet the scholar’s outlook on the history of the Empire has been greatly changed since Gibbon’s day by the discovery of Pompeii and the study of inscriptions. To be continue in this ebook...