Imágenes de página




II. 4. And upon this meeting with unanimous approval he proceeded as follows: Where have we then, for the commencement of the structure of a state, an instance so famous and so universally known, as in the foundation of this citay by the hands of Romulus. He was the son of Mars ; if we follow the common tradition, the rather since it has not only antiquity to plead, but the wisdom of our ancestors, who delivered it with a view to attach to men who had deserved well of the commonwealth the reputation of being divine alike in origin and ability. And, as the story goes, on his birth with his brother Remus, he was exposed on the banks of the Tiber, by the order of Amulius the Alban king, who feared in him the future destroyer of his


[ocr errors]

dynasty. From this place, where he had been supported by the milk of a wild beast, he was taken by shepherds and rudely nurtured in laborious habits. Among whom, we are told, on his arrival at'manhood, he showed so preeminent a superiority in strength and spirit, that all who then inhabited the district, where this city now stands, yielded him a contented and voluntary obedience. And it is related that having offered himself to head their forces,-if we abandon at length the region of fable for that of fact,--he surprised and carried Longa Alba a city of great strength and powerful for those times, and slew King Amulius.

III. 5. It is said that the glory he thus acquired first inspired him with the idea of building a city, after taking the Auspices, and founding a state. Now, for the site of his city, a matter, which claims the most careful attention from him who would secure a permanent existence for the state which he is planting, he made a most marvellously happy choice. For he did not move it to the sea coast, although he might easily have done so with a body of troops such as he had, by advancing into the territory of the Rutuli or Aborigines ; or by himself building a city at the mouth of the Tiber, whither many years later King Aucus conducted a colony. But this he had the singular foresight to feel and see, that a maritime situation did not offer the greatest advantages to a city, that was founded in the hope of a future, and a future of empire. In the first place, because a seaport town was exposed to dangers alike unforeseen and many in number. For the main land gives previous notice of an enemy by numerous indications of his approach, whether it be sudden or anticipated, and if I may so express myself, by the thunder and actual sound of his tramp.

And indeed it is impossible for an enemy to make a sudden swoop

from the land without it being in our power to ascertain, besides the mere fact of his presence, both who he is, and whence he comes. While an enemy who travels by sea

[ocr errors]

in a ship may be on the spot, before a suspicion can exist of his intention to come. Nor indeed, upon his arrival, does he indicate, either who he is, or whence he comes or even what he wants. Lastly there is not a single token, by which it is possible to pronounce definitely, whether he be friend or foe.

IV. 7. Again, there exists in maritime states an element tending to corrupt and degrade the manners of their citizens. For they are in frequent contact with new modes of speech and new habits of life, and import the manners as well as the merchandise of foreigners, thus making if impossible for any part of the institutions of their ancestors to be preserved in their integrity. Moreover the inhabitants of these towns do not remain at home, but are continually hurried further away on the wing of hope and speculation : and even when at home in person, in thought they are no less wandering abroad. Nor indeed did anything more contribute to the fatal crisis in the chronic decay of both Carthage and Corinth, than these restless and migratory habits of their citizens. For they had relinquished the arts of war and agriculture for the lust of traffic and the love of a sea-faring life.

8. By the sea too a state is flooded with many dangerous temptations to luxury, the alternate fruits of capture and importation. And the very beauty of the spot contains a thousand allurements to pleasure involving a waste either of time or money. And I am not sure whether what I have said of Corinth may not be applied with equal justice to the whole of Greece. For not only is the Peloponnese itself almost wholly a maritime country, the Phliwntians being the only people who have no sea-bord; but beyond the Peloponnese, the Ænians, Dorians, and Dolopes are alone inland. I pass over the islands of Greece; of which it may be said that their sea girt soil, their political institutions and their customs are almost equally afloat.

9. This then, as I said before, applies to the mother country. But of the colonies planted by Greece in Asia, Thrace, Italy, Sicily and Africa, is there one besides Magnesia, which is not on the sea-coast? Thus, if I may so express myself, foreign countries are fringed by a Grecian coast line. For no state actually foreign was originally maritime, with the exception of Etruria and Carthage, the first for the purposes of commerce, the second for those of piracy. And it is manifest that the root of the revolutionary calamities of Greece lay in the defects in the constitution of maritime states, which I have just now very briefly alluded to. Nevertheless in these defects lurk two immense advantages ; first that merchandise from all parts of the world can float into their harbours, and secondly that their native produce can be exported and conveyed to whatever country they may wish.

V. 10. How then could Romulus almost prophetically avoid the defects without letting go the advantages of a maritime state ? how but by planting his city on the banks of a river of continuous flow, both uniform and discharging itself in a broad estuary, which should enable the city to supply its need and dispose of its superfluity by sea. A river which should at once receive from the ocean and bear upon its stream from the interior, the chief requisites to the support and convenience of life. And this circumstance leads me to conclude that he already foresaw that this city was destined one day to afford a settlement and a home to a great empire. For a city planted in another part of Italy could scarcely have maintained with equal facility so vast an extent of power.

VI. 11. Now if we come to the actual town and its natural defences, no one is, I think, so unobservant as not to have noticed and to be quite familiar with them. For its walls, through the wisdom of Romulus and also of his successors, marked along the whole line of their course by lofty and rugged hills, are conducted in a direction that leaves only one avenue of approach, that namely between the Esquiline and Quirinal hills, which has been protected by throwing up a huge earthwork and making an enormous ditch. Moreover the citadel was so effectually fortified by resting upon a steep rampart, and a rock naturally scarped all round, that even in the fearful storm of a Gallic invasion it stood safe and inviolate. Again, he selected a spot having abundance of fresh water, and healthy in the heart of a pestilent district : possessing, as it does, hills which both are themselves open to the winds, and cast their shade upon the valleys.

« AnteriorContinuar »