Viewed in relation not to the subjects, who merely changed masters, but to their new rulers, the abandonment of the equally wise and magnanimous principle of Roman statesmanship--viz., that Rome should accept from her subjects simply military aid, and never pecuniary compensation in lieu of it--was of a fatal importance, in comparison with which all alleviations in the rates and the mode of levying them, as well as all exceptions in detail, were as nothing. Such exceptions were, no doubt, made in various cases. Messana was directly admitted to the confederacy of the -togati-, and, like the Greek cities in Italy, furnished its contingent to the Roman fleet. A number of other cities, while not admitted to the Italian military confederacy, yet received in addition to other favours immunity from tribute and tenths, so that their position in a financial point of view was even more favourable than that of the Italian communities. These were Segesta and Halicyae, which were the first towns of Carthaginian Sicily that joined the Roman alliance; Centuripa, an inland town in the east of the island, which was destined to keep a watch over the Syracusan territory in its neighbourhood;(9) Halaesa on the northern coast, which was the first of the free Greek towns to join the Romans, and above all Panormus, hitherto the capital of Carthaginian, and now destined to become that of Roman, Sicily. The Romans thus applied to Sicily the ancient principle of their policy, that of subdividing the dependent communities into carefully graduated classes with different privileges; but, on the average, the Sardinian and Sicilian communities were not in the position of allies but in the manifest relation of tributary subjection.

Italy And The Provinces

It is true that this thorough distinction between the communities that furnished contingents and those that paid tribute, or at least did not furnish contingents, was not in law necessarily coincident with the distinction between Italy and the provinces. Transmarine communities might belong to the Italian confederacy; the Mamertines for example were substantially on a level with the Italian Sabellians, and there existed no legal obstacle to the establishment even of new communities with Latin rights in Sicily and Sardinia any more than in the country beyond the Apennines. Communities on the mainland might be deprived of the right of bearing arms and become tributary; this arrangement was already the case with certain Celtic districts on the Po, and was introduced to a considerable extent in after times. But, in reality, the communities that furnished contingents just as decidedly preponderated on the mainland as the tributary communities in the islands; and while Italian settlements were not contemplated on the part of the Romans either in Sicily with its Hellenic civilization or in Sardinia, the Roman government had beyond doubt already determined not only to subdue the barbarian land between the Apennines and the Alps, but also, as their conquests advanced, to establish in it new communities of Italic origin and Italic rights. Thus their transmarine possessions were not merely placed on the footing of land held by subjects, but were destined to remain on that footing in all time to come; whereas the official field recently marked off by law for the consuls, or, which is the same thing, the continental territory of the Romans, was to become a new and more extended Italy, which should reach from the Alps to the Ionian sea. In the first instance, indeed, this essentially geographical conception of Italy was not altogether coincident with the political conception of the Italian confederacy; it was partly wider, partly narrower. But even now the Romans regarded the whole space up to the boundary of the Alps as -Italia-, that is, as the present or future domain of the -togati- and, just as was and still is the case in North America, the boundary was provisionally marked off in a geographical sense, that the field might be gradually occupied in a political sense also with the advance of colonization.(10)

Events On The Adriatic Coasts

In the Adriatic sea, at the entrance of which the important and long- contemplated colony of Brundisium had at length been founded before the close of the war with Carthage (510), the supremacy of Rome was from the very first decided. In the western sea Rome had been obliged to rid herself of rivals; in the eastern, the quarrels of the Hellenes themselves prevented any of the states in the Grecian peninsula from acquiring or retaining power. The most considerable of them, that of Macedonia, had through the influence of Egypt been dislodged from the upper Adriatic by the Aetolians and from the Peloponnesus by the Achaeans, and was scarcely even in a position to defend its northern frontier against the barbarians. How concerned the Romans were to keep down Macedonia and its natural ally, the king of Syria, and how closely they associated themselves with the Egyptian policy directed to that object, is shown by the remarkable offer which after the end of the war with Carthage they made to king Ptolemy III. Euergetes, to support him in the war which he waged with Seleucus II. Callinicus of Syria (who reigned 507-529) on account of the murder of Berenice, and in which Macedonia had probably taken part with the latter. Generally, the relations of Rome with the Hellenistic states became closer; the senate already negotiated even with Syria, and interceded with the Seleucus just mentioned on behalf of the Ilians with whom the Romans claimed affinity.

For a direct interference of the Romans in the affairs of the eastern powers there was no immediate need. The Achaean league, the prosperity of which was arrested by the narrow-minded coterie- policy of Aratus, the Aetolian republic of military adventurers, and the decayed Macedonian empire kept each other in check; and the Romans of that time avoided rather than sought transmarine acquisitions. When the Acarnanians, appealing to the ground that they alone of all the Greeks had taken no part in the destruction of Ilion, besought the descendants of Aeneas to help them against the Aetolians, the senate did indeed attempt a diplomatic mediation; but when the Aetolians returned an answer drawn up in their own saucy fashion, the antiquarian interest of the Roman senators by no means provoked them into undertaking a war by which they would have freed the Macedonians from their hereditary foe (about 515).

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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