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the fabled Sabine rape, the Romans are said to have obtained wives, and this formed the basis of Roman families, and of the Roman social state. The ancestral mothers of the Cæsars, of the Scipios, of Pompey, and of Cicero, are found, as the historians of Rome say, among these violated Sabine women; and the ancestral fathers of these great Romans, were the robbers, who by treachery and force, thus provided Rome with her first matrons and replenishers of a martial line. Woman had little respect or power in Rome, and wives were divorced by husbands at will. An act of violence upon Lucretia, overthrew the monarchy established by Romulus, in the 245th year of the city; and this was deemed the era of Roman morality. The social state in its origin, its principles, and its practices was bad. Every page of Roman history is stained with domestic infidelities, immoralities and murders, down to the pillage of Rome by the Vandal king Genseric, who was invited to Italy by the queen of the Roman emperor.
The polity of Rome was originally an elective limited monarchy, with a hereditary Senate of 100, chosen by the king. Afterwards 200 were added to the Senate, and thus a hereditary body of Patricians were organized. From the 245th to the
. 727th year of Rome, the executive power was vested in two Consuls, and at times in a Dictator.
The Consuls were Patricians until the 388th year of the city, when the first Plebeian became consul. By prohibition of intermarriage, the Patricians and Plebeians were for a long period kept distinct and separate. Though the Consuls were nominally elected by the people, the Senate by influence, in fact, generally appointed them. The people had a power of legislation under certain circumstances, and by a forcible rising they secured the appointment of Tribunes of the people, as guardians and protectors of popular rights. But for most practical purposes, during the Consulate, the Senate either enacted, or influenced the passage of laws, and were the controlling power of the commonwealth. The Licinian law, which the Gracchi attempted to revive, with a view to restore to the Roman State the public domain, which the Patricians had illegally seized, was truly a law of the people. The tribunitial office of the Gracchi, and the existence of the restored law sanctioned anew in the assemblies of the people, were of no avail. A proud and grasping aristocracy, put down these laws by force of arms, killing the Gracchi and several thousands of the Roman people. Thus the Patricians cut down the liberties of the people of Rome with the same sword that had conquered the world. It was the first scene in the drama of retributive justice that Rome was to exhibit, as the natural and necessary penalty for the slaughter and enslavement of many nations. Henceforth violence and bloodshed were habitual internal vices of the Romans, and they practised upon themselves the cruelties they had inflicted on other nations. In the wars of the patrician and popular parties, headed by Marius and Sylla, the greatest atrocities were perpetrated. Sylla caused several thousand captive Romans to be butchered in cold blood, in hearing of the 'assembled Senate, and he confiscated the private property of his fellow citizens to a great extent. Servile wars, the inevitable result and just punishment of the Roman gigantic system of slavery, came also, to fill to the brim the cup of national suffering and woe. Servile wars desolated Italy and Sicily, endangered the safety of the common wealth, were attended with defeat and disaster, and cost a million of lives. The whole system of Roman polity bore the stamp of cruelty.
The conspiracy of Cataline, the terrible patri. cian oppressions that caused it, and the assassination of the captive leaders of it by orders of Cicero the Consul, and the subsequent tragical fate of the great orator, present a striking illustration of the corrupt morals and bloody ferocity of the Romans. The triumph and assassination of Julius Cæsarthe victorious usurpation of the Triumvirate--their
sanguinary wars and terrible proscriptions, unfold to us the true character of the Romans, and the punishments self-inflicted, by the national sins of the conquering commonwealth. The Romans first robbed other nations, and at last they robbed each other. Such was Roman polity-such were Roman morals and such were their fruits. She sought power, property, and dominion by the sword, and obtained them; and then, her corrupt and unprincipled people, practised at home the same atrocities learned in her victorious armies abroad. Cicero, in strains of eloquence, pourtrays this corruption and violence, and deeply deplores it in his ethical writings. Sallust, in his history of the conspiracy of Cataline, presents the same views. Such were the morals and polity of Athens and Rome, the two prominent States of antiquity.
All the Pagan States of that era, and of preceding ages, were inferior to the Greeks and Romans in civilization, in science, and in the arts. A par
, ticular examination of them is unnecessary.
It is remarkable, that the Jews, with whom God's law had been deposited, had so far forgotten or perverted it, that at the advent of Jesus Christ, many of them, with the heathen, denied the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the dead. Their character was ferocious and pagan, and by their crucifixion of the Lord of Glory, they have earned the just punishment of eighteen centuries.
“Fallen is thy throne, O Israel,
Silence is o'er thy plains;
Such is the sad picture which the ancient world presents prior to the Christian era. Some improvement had indeed been made in the useful arts; and in sculpture and architecture, a high perfection had been attained.
But in the higher departments of knowledge, little progress had been made. Sound ethics and international law were unknown, and remained to be discovered by the light of the Star of Bethlehem.
The ancients may then be justly considered but partially enlightened; and none need regret the loss of the Alexandrian library, or an inability to read the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians.
Antiquity was the era of force-brute force.
As we have heard much of the wisdom of the ancient philosophers, we will prove that they failed to establish any system of ethics or of sound morality. We have already shown, that prior to the advent of Christ, the world by its principles and practices was devoted to war, rapine, licen. tiousness and cruelty, and that the reign of igno. rance was almost universal. The efforts of the