The history of the decline and collapse of the Roman Empire: a chapter from the book of Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

The richness and splendor … marbles which adorned the palace Anica, entered into a proverb, and the Roman aristocrats and senators tried as best to emulate this famous family. The detailed description of Rome, compiled during the reign of Theodosius, appear one thousand seven hundred and eighty houses, which served as a resident of the rich and noble people. Many of these magnificent homes almost justify the exaggerated expression of the poet, that Rome could hold a countless palaces and every palace was the size of a whole city, as in it can be to find anything that satisfied the requirements of utility and luxury — and the markets, and racetracks, and temples and fountains, and baths, and porticoes, and shady groves, and poultry houses. The historian Olympiodorus, describing the position of Rome, while he was besieged by the Goths, notes that some of the richest senators received from their estates an annual income of four thousand pounds of gold, or more than one hundred sixty thousand pounds, not including reserves bread and wine, which were equal to its value-third part of said amount. In comparison with such enormous state senators average income of a thousand or fifteen hundred pounds of gold could be barely sufficient to maintain the dignity of their rank, which required large public spending and to representation. In the reign of Honorius were examples of such ambitious and chase the popularity of aristocrats, who organized the anniversary of his pretorstva festivities lasted a week and costing more than a hundred thousand pounds sterling. The estates of Roman senators, to such an extent exceeding the size of private holdings of our time, were not in Italy alone. Their possessions extended far beyond the Ionian and the Aegean Sea and reached the most remote provinces, for example, the town of Nikopol, founded by Augustus in order to perpetuate the memory of the victory at Actium, the property was a pious Paula and Seneca remarks that river once served as boundaries between the warring nations now flow through the possessions of ordinary citizens. The Romans, depending on the taste or the circumstances, or treated their lands hands of their slaves, or gave them to rent for the agreed price. Ancient economists strongly recommended to use the first of these two methods, wherever it is applicable in practice, but if the owner could not watch their estates because of their remoteness and vastness, then they tended to become attached to the soil and are interested in a good harvest hereditary tenant over mercenary who casually refers to the case, and sometimes in bad faith.

The rich aristocracy huge capital, never chase the military glory and rarely engaged in the affairs of civil government, of course, has devoted his leisure pursuits, and home entertainment. To engage in trade Romans have always looked with contempt, but since the first centuries of the republic and the senators have begun to increase their wealth, and the number of its customers due to the fact that the craft began to engage in profitable money-lenders, and antiquated laws that prohibit this method of profit, or treated, or not enforced by mutual agreement and in the interests of both parties. In Rome, must have always been a huge treasure or current coin, or in the form of gold and silver ware, and in times of Ilene there were quite a few coffee shops, which were more massive silver than Scipio had brought them out of the conquered Carthage. Aristocrats who spent their fortunes on the excessive luxury, for the most part considered themselves poor among surrounding them shine and lived in idleness among the continuous pleasure. Their desire to constantly satisfy the efforts of thousands of hands, through the efforts of numerous domestic slaves who worked out of fear of punishment, and a variety of artisans and traders are finding it more powerful encouragement in the hope of profit. Ancients were unfamiliar many of the comforts of life that have been introduced or improved, thanks to the success of the industry, and an abundance of glass and linen delivered the latest European nations more substantial comfort than the one delivered by the Roman senators all their subtle liveth in pleasure and luxury. Their extravagance and their manners were the subject of detailed and thorough investigation, but as this study for a long time rejected me from the purpose of this essay, I will limit myself to reliable description of Rome and its inhabitants, which refers mainly to the period of the Gothic invasions. Ammianus Marcellinus, who had a reason to live in the capital of the empire in the most convenient place for the one who writes the history of his own time, are mixed into the story of public events vivid description of the scenes that took place constantly before his eyes. Savvy readers will not always be happy with the sharpness of his censure, selection details and mode of expression, it may be sweeping the secret of prejudice and personal dislike detrimental to the character of the Ammianus, but he, no doubt, will read from a philosophical curiosity interesting and original description of the Roman mores.

"The greatness of Rome (as expressed by the historian) was based on a rare and almost unbelievable combination of virtue and happiness. A long period of his childhood was a difficult struggle with the Italic tribes who lived in the vicinity of the town of emerging and ongoing feud with him. During the period of youthful strength and fervor he weathered the storm of war, turned his victorious arms of the sea and the mountains and triumphantly returned home decorated with laurels that have been collected from all over the globe. Finally, approaching old age and at times overcoming the fear of one who has imposed his name, he began to look for happiness in the comforts and quiet. The venerable city, which didst weaken the proudest nation and established a system of laws, which should always be on guard justice and freedom, was satisfied with the fact that, like the prudent and prosperous father, and put on their favorite sons — Caesars — care for the management of its vast patrimony. Strong and deep tranquility — is as it enjoyed in the reign of Numa, — came after the unrest of the country. Before Rome was still worshiped as the king of the world, and the conquered peoples are still revered the name of the Roman people and the greatness of the Senate. But that's ancient grandeur (continued Ammian) humbled and tainted by the few aristocrats who, without caring about their own dignity or the dignity of his country, shall be made without any action vices and follies. They vie with each other in an empty conceit titles and nicknames and choose for yourself or come up with the most magnificent and sonorous names Reburra or Fabuniya, Pagon or Tarrazu, commoners to inspire wonder and respect. From the vain desire to perpetuate the memory of themselves, they portray themselves in bronze and marble statues and only then are satisfied when these statues obkladyvayutsya plates of gold, and this difference was the honorary consul for the first time rendered acyl after he defeated King Antiochus thanks to his courage and prudence. Vanity, with whom they are trying to show, and perhaps exaggerate the enormity of income from their estates scattered throughout all the provinces of East and West, raises a profound resentment at least, who have not forgotten that their poor and invincible ancestors were not different from the simple soldier no grace your table, no pomp, his robes. But the present-day measure to know the greatness of his position and its value the height of his chariots, and the weight of its beautiful decoration. Her long silk and purple clothes fluttering in the wind, and while they swing open artificially or by accident, they open our eyes the bottom of the dress, consisting of a rich tunics, which are embroidered figures of various animals. Accompanied by a retinue of fifty servants, they drove through the streets with the speed with which ride on mail, and so that the bridge is shaking, and feel free to follow the example of the senators and matrons of noble ladies, constantly driving about in closed wagons for the vast space occupied by the city and suburbs . When these noble persons deign your visit public baths, they are at the very entrance there take the loud and brash and commanding tone to grab their exclusive use of the amenities that are designed for the Roman people. If the places where people converge all ranks, they meet one of those despicable people who serve as their tools for their amusement, they express them his gracious disposition gentle hug, but they arrogantly avoid greeting those citizens who are only allowed to kissing their hands or knees. As soon as they freshen up the bathroom, they again put on their rings and other external differences of their office, choose to your liking clothes from the wardrobe of this, which would be enough for twelve people, and keep up to his departure that haughty tone, which, perhaps, can be it was a great excuse to Marcella after he took possession of Syracuse. However, these characters sometimes make more difficult feats they visit their estates in Italy and indulge ourselves hunting, and labor and fatigue fall for just a fraction of their slaves. If it happens on a hot day swim on their painted galleys through Lukrinskoe lake to their luxurious villas situated on the beach near Puteoli and repents, they compare this expedition with the campaigns of Caesar and Alexander. However, if the fly would dare to take the silk folds of their gilded canopies, if by chance a ray of sunshine penetrate into some subtle well, they complain about their intolerable situation in the touching words of regret that were not born in the country of the Cimmerians, where reigns eternal darkness . During this entire country trips domestic workers accompanying their master. Just as a skilled military commander allocated based on the cavalry and infantry, heavily armed troops and those who are armed lightly, and assigns who will be in the vanguard, who in the rear, heads of domestic workers, armed with a whip in a sign of the power given to them, and are arranged in the lead order a large retinue of slaves and servants. Luggage and wardrobe go ahead, and immediately after them is lots of cooks and inferior officers, consisting Ministering in the kitchen or at the table. Main force consists of a mass of slaves, joined idle plebeians and clients. The procession is closed detachment eunuchs are placed on the seniority years, starting with the oldest and ending with the young. Their numbers and ugliness excite disgust in viewers who are willing to curse the memory of Babylon, came up with this inhuman means drown out the requirements of nature and destroy in the bud of hope for future generations. In the administration of justice Roman aristocrats home show extraordinary sensitivity to everything that concerns their own personality, but the rest of the human family are treated with contempt indifference. If they are told to bring warm water, and the slave hesitated in the performance of orders, it immediately punished three hundred lashes, but if the servant commits murder, his master humbly notice him that he is a great villain, and that he did not escape punishment if the offense is repeated . Hospitality once belonged to the Roman virtues, and every stranger found help in misfortune and generous rewards if different personal qualities. And now, if some stranger, even of those who occupy the last place in the society, is the first time in the house of a rich and arrogant senators, it is first received with such friendly greetings and with the participation of the heart that he leaves his affability charmed noble friend and regretted only that it took so long postponed his trip to Rome — this center is not only the supreme power, but also good manners. Being confident of a good reception, he repeats his visit the next day and was saddened to notice that the landlord has forgotten his identity, and his name and the name of the place where he came from. If, despite this, he will aggressively pursue his visit, he gradually goes into the category of clients and get permission and it is useless to look hard for a haughty patron, who is unfamiliar feeling of gratitude or friendship, and that is hardly condescend to noticing his arrival, departure or return. When a rich man to hold public entertainment for the people, or is preparing to excessive and harmful luxury dinner at home, the choice is a matter of serious concern. People are modest, temperate and scientists rarely are preferred, and those who were tasked with compiling lists of invitees, usually guided by self-interest and make these lists to the unknown names of the most undeserving people. But the most common and the most intimate companions lords are those parasites that are engaged in the most favorable of all crafts — craft flatterers, who warmly approve every word and every step of their immortal patron, who enthusiastically examine its multi-colored marble columns and floors of his apartment and diligently
celebrate luxury and elegance, which he used to be considered an integral part of their personal merits. At the table, the Romans birds, squirrels (proteins) and fish of extraordinary value to pay general attention, to certify their weight, bring balance and, while the more sensible guests turn away from this boring scenes are purposely invited notaries act as a witness of this extraordinary events. Another way to creep into the house and into the society of the nobility is in a special class game, which give a more decent name for fun. Associates join a strong and unbreakable bond of friendship, or rather the plot and the highest dexterity in throwing tesseraria or bones (almost the same as a game of checkers or backgammon), opens a sure path to wealth and fame. If a connoisseur of high science have to sit at dinner or in the community under any officer, he finds himself in a manner to keep the same surprise and indignation which could express Cato, when the people that lusted not want to choose it in Pretoria. The acquisition of knowledge is rarely interested aristocrats who hate anything that might cause them to fatigue, and neglecting the benefits of education; satires of Juvenal and long-winded stories of fabulous Mary Maxim — the only books that they read. Libraries, they received an inheritance from our ancestors, as always closed the tomb, and they never penetrate the light of day. But expensive theatrical instruments — flute, lyre, and huge hydraulic organs — fabricated for their use, and in Roman palaces ever heard the harmony of vocal and instrumental music. In those palaces sound is preferred to use common sense and care of the body are considered more important than taking care of the mind. All considered to be beneficial for the rule that the easiest suspicion of contagious disease exempt from the obligation to attend the closest friends, and even ministers, sent from the decency to inquire about the patient's return home only as after preliminary cleansing bath. However, the selfish and cowardly delicacy completely disappears when played over a strong passion of covetousness. For the sake of monetary gain rich and gouty senator is ready to drive away even before Spoleto, and arrogance, and self-esteem is set aside as a hope of getting anything by inheritance or bequest, and the rich, childless citizen — the most powerful man in all of Rome . These people are very well mastered the art of signing achieve profitable for them will, and sometimes hasten the onset of the art of the time when it is executed, it happened even in the same house but in different rooms of the husband and wife, with the laudable desire survive one another, encouraged their attorneys and in the same time doing exactly the opposite order in the event of his death. Need for money, which is the inevitable consequence of excessive luxury, as if the punishment for it, often forcing the nobles to resort to the most humiliating tricks. When they need to make a loan, they are expressed by low and pleading tone in which slaves are expressed in comedies, but when they are required to repay the loan, they take regal tragic tone, decent descendants of Hercules. If this requirement is repeated, they commit to one of his most trusted sycophants blame importunate creditor of poisoning in the classroom or magic, and it is rarely possible to avoid the accident in prison if he will sign a receipt of the debt. These defects, degrading the moral character of the Romans, joins childish tendency to superstition, degrading their minds. They listen to predict with confidence aruspitsiev who are in the guts of animals killed indications awaiting them in the future greatness and prosperity, and in between there are many which do not enter into the bath, do not sit down at the table and not go for a visit, unable to cope, according to all the rules of astrology, the position of Mercury and with the appearance of the moon. One can not but marvel at the fact that this is a strange credulity is not uncommon in such wicked skeptics who doubt the existence or heavenly power, or completely reject it. "

In crowded cities as centers for trade and industry, the middle classes of the population, which produce the means of subsistence dexterity or labor of their hands, usually are all rapidly proliferating, most useful and in this sense the most respectable part of the urban community. But the Roman plebeians, who abhor such sedentary and lower classes, from the most ancient times have succumbed under the burden of debt and lihvennyh percent and tillers were forced to stop cultivating their fields, while carrying military service. Italic lands were originally divided among the families of the free and the poor owners, but then gradually passed into the hands of the aristocracy, or by purchase, or by squatting, and in the century that preceded the fall of the republic, there were only two thousand citizens who have independent means of existence. However, while the choice of the people depended on the distribution of government posts and appointment as chiefs of legions, and administrators-rich provinces, a sense of pride to some extent facilitated the oppression of material deprivation, and people's needs are met ambitious candidates who tried to buy venal majority in the thirty-five tribes or one hundred and ninety-three Centuries, which was divided by the Roman population. But when the prodigal polloi unwisely issued out of their hands, not only the use of his right, the transfer by succession, it descended under the Caesars to the position of low and contemptible mobile, which died out completely would be very soon, if it is not replenished constantly released to the will of the slaves and strangers tide. Even in the times of Hadrian Roman natives thoroughly complained that flocked to the capital from all over the world vices and manners the most disparate peoples. Intemperance Gauls, cunning and inconstancy of the Greeks, Egyptians and wild obduracy of the Jews, Asians and servility unbridled licentiousness Syrians were mixed in Diverse crowd, which, under the false name of stilted and Romans dared to despise their fellow citizens and even their kings, because they lived outside the Eternal City .

But the name of the city was still pronounced with respect frequent excesses of his wayward people go unpunished, and the successors of Constantine, instead of crushing the last vestiges of democracy under the weight of military despotism, kept mild policy of Augustus, trying to facilitate the needs of the countless poor and give them entertainment. I. To deliver the idle plebeians more amenities, the monthly distribution of bread in the grain has been replaced by a daily distribution of bread, was arranged set of ovens, which were kept by the Treasury, and every citizen, equipped with a special ticket, entered the appointed hour on the steps of the staircase, which was appointed for the residents of his neighborhood or a portion thereof, and received the gift, or the lowest price for a piece of bread weighing three pounds to feed his family. II. The forests of Lucania, to feed their acorns huge herds of wild pigs, delivered in the form of taxes, abundant reserves of cheap and nutritious meat. Within five months of the year to the poorest citizens are constantly handing out salt pork, and the annual consumption of meat in a day and age when the capital of the empire has lost its former luster, was determined by an edict of Valentinian III in three million six hundred twenty-eight thousand pounds. III. By rooted in ancient customs of the peoples of vegetable oil required not only for lamps, but also for baths, and an annual tax, which was imposed on Africa in favor of Rome, reached three million pounds, which was the English measure to three hundred thousand gallons. IV. Solicitude with which tried in August to supply sufficient capital reserves of corn bread was limited to those necessary for human food product, and when people began to loudly complain about the high cost and lack of wine, a proclamation issued this serious reformer reminded his subjects that there is no reason to complain about thirst, since the aqueducts of Agrippa were delivered to the city as a heavy flow of clean and healthy water. This harsh forbearance gradually disappeared, and, although the generous intention of Aurelian, it seems, was not enforced in its entirety, the use of wine became available to all on a very light conditions. The management of the public wine cellars was handled by a senior official and picking grapes in the campaign has been a considerable amount intended for the lucky residents of Rome.

Gorgeous water pipes thoroughly deserves the most praise Augustus, supplied in a huge abundance of water he built in all parts of the city Thermal, or baths. There were more than one thousand six hundred marble benches in the baths of Antoninus Caracalla, which were opened at the appointed hours for all without distinction — for senators and commoners, and the baths of Diocletian numbered benches for more than three thousand. The walls were covered with tall apartment mosaics, to imitate painting, drawing elegance and variety of colors, so pay attention to the Egyptian granite inlays on the expensive green marble is obtained from Numidia, a continuous stream of hot water poured into the vast pools through the wide opening, made of solid silver and the last day of the Romans could buy a small copper coin use of such luxuries and amenities that might arouse envy in Asian monarchs. Of these magnificent palaces crowds came out dirty and ragged plebeians who had no shoes, no cloaks the whole day strolling through the streets and in the forum to gather news and start a debate that squandered the game meager livelihoods of their wives and children and spent the night in restaurants and homes obscene, indulging in very rough debauchery.

But the most pleasant and most luxurious pastimes served to crowds of idle public games and spectacles. Christian emperors abolished the inhuman gladiator fights, but for the population of the Roman circus was still a bit of his own home, it still looked like a circus at the temple, and as the seat of the republic. Eager crowds hurrying to take place, only just beginning to dawn, and spent many sleepless nights and disturbing at the adjacent porticos. Spectators sometimes reaches the number to four hundred thousand people watched with rapt attention from the morning until the evening of the horses and chariots, not paying any attention to the fact that their baking sun or rain wets, and they were worried that the hopes, the fears in the expectation that the success of fall to the share of those who are good will, and you would have thought that the outcome of the race depends on the welfare of Rome. The same excessive enthusiasm aroused their cheers and applause when they looked at the witch-hunt of wild animals and to some other theater performance. In our capitals such ideas deserve to be treated as a school for exquisite taste and even a virtue. However, the tragic and the comic muse Romans almost always seek only to imitate the Attic genius, almost totally silent since the fall of the republic, and its place was taken indecent farces, voluptuous music and gorgeous scenic setting. Pantomime, which retained its popularity since August until the sixth century, expressed without the use of words fabulous tales of gods and heroes of antiquity, and the perfection to which it has been brought art, sometimes disarmed severe strictness of the philosopher and always made by the people of approval and delight. Extensive and luxurious Roman theaters contained three thousand and three thousand dancers singers together with the heads of the various choirs. These artists used such general sympathy that in lean years when the city sent out all foreigners, they were rewarded for the pleasure delivered by the public that it does not obey the law, strictly applies to all professors of Liberal Arts.

They say that curiosity madcap Heliogabalus attempted delved present figures of the Roman population by the number of web. A more efficient method of research would not have been worthy of the wisest emperors, who could easily resolve the issue, so important to the Roman government, and so interesting for future generations. Birth and death of citizens accurately recorded in the registers, and if some of the ancient writers told us the results of these annual reports, or just an average figure, we would be able to make a satisfactory settlement, which would have destroyed the exaggeration of critics and, perhaps, confirmed a moderate and plausible guesses of philosophers. The most diligent research brought us only the following information, which, despite its superficial and incomplete, throw some light on the question of the population of ancient Rome. I. When the capital of the empire was besieged by the Goths, the circumference of the walls was carefully measured mathematician ammonium and picked them at twenty-one mile. We should not forget that the city was in the form almost a perfect circle, and this geometric figure is known, contains within itself a wider space than any other. II. Fame during the August architect Vitruvius, the evidence of which is in this case a special weight and authority, notes that countless houses of the Roman population certainly would have spread far beyond the city limits, but that the lack of free land for construction of buildings on all sides surrounded by gardens and villas instilled a very simple, but not quite comfortable in practice the idea to make the add-on houses. But the height of the buildings, often built in haste and out of the bad stuff has been the cause of frequent disasters, and because edicts of Augustus and Nero was repeatedly ordered to build within the Roman walls of private homes do not rise above the earth for more than seventy feet. III. Juvenal, as it seems on the basis of their own experience, lamented the hardships of the poor people and gave them a salutary advice as soon as possible to escape from the Roman soot, as in small towns of the Italian you can buy a beautiful and comfortable house for that same price they pay annually for the dark and nasty apartment. Hence we must conclude that the rent charge for the apartment was too high; rich have gained a huge amount of land on which they built their palaces and gardens planted, but the main mass of the Roman population thronged into a small space, and, just as is done in our time Paris and other cities, in different floors and apartments of the same house was located several plebeian families. IV. In the description of Rome, compiled during the reign of Theodosius, the number of homes in all fourteen urban areas defined in forty-eight thousand three hundred eighty-two. They were divided into two categories — for domus and insulae, which contains in itself all the capital's home of all kinds, from the marble palace Anica with numerous rooms for the freedmen and slaves, and ending with a high and narrow cabin, in which the poet Codri and his wife hired a loft the roof. If we take the same average figure which, under the same conditions, was adopted for the calculation of the Parisian population, and if we assume that each house had to round number twenty-five residents, the population of Rome will be determined in a million two hundred thousand people, and this figure does not seem excessive to us for the capital of a powerful empire, and even if it exceeded the number of population in the largest cities in our modern Europe.

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