The governor of Asia at that time, Lucius Lucullus, was directed to reestablish the system of farming the revenue introduced by Gaius Gracchus; and thus this important source of money and power was restored to the great capitalists.

Renewal Of The Censorship

Lastly, the censorship was revived. The elections for it, which the new consuls fixed shortly after entering on their office, fell, in evident mockery of the senate, on the two consuls of 682, Gnaeus Lentulus Clodianus and Lucius Gellius, who had been removed by the senate from their commands on account of their wretched management of the war against Spartacus.(4) It may readily be conceived that these men put in motion all the means which their important and grave office placed at their command, for the purpose of doing homage to the new-holders of power and of annoying the senate. At least an eighth part of the senate, sixty-four senators, a number hitherto unparalleled, were deleted from the roll, including Gaius Antonius, formerly impeached without success by Gaius Caesar,(5) and Publius Lentulus Sura, the consul of 683, and presumably also not a few of the most obnoxious creatures of Sulla.

The New Constitution

Thus in 684 they had reverted in the main to the arrangements that subsisted before the Sullan restoration.

Again the multitude of the capital was fed from the state-chest, in other words by the provinces;(6) again the tribunician authority gave to every demagogue a legal license to overturn the arrangements of the state; again the moneyed nobility, as farmers of the revenue and possessed of the judicial control over the governors, raised their heads alongside of the government as powerfully as ever; again the senate trembled before the verdict of jurymen of the equestrian order and before the censorial censure. The system of Sulla, which had based the monopoly of power by the nobility on the political annihilation of the mercantile aristocracy and of demagogism, was thus completely overthrown. Leaving out of view some subordinate enactments, the abolition of which was not overtaken till afterwards, such as the restoration of the right of self-completion to the priestly colleges,(7) nothing of the general ordinances of Sulla survived except, on the one hand, the concessions which he himself found it necessary to make to the opposition, such as the recognition of the Roman franchise of all the Italians, and, on the other hand, enactments without any marked partisan tendency, and with which therefore even judicious democrats found no fault--such as, among others, the restriction of the freedmen, the regulation of the functional spheres of the magistrates, and the material alterations in criminal law.

The coalition was more agreed regarding these questions of principle than with respect to the personal questions which such a political revolution raised. As might be expected, the democrats were not content with the general recognition of their programme; but they too now demanded a restoration in their sense--revival of the commemoration of their dead, punishment of the murderers, recall of the proscribed from exile, removal of the political disqualification that lay on their children, restoration of the estates confiscated by Sulla, indemnification at the expense of the heirs and assistants of the dictator. These were certainly the logical consequences which ensued from a pure victory of the democracy; but the victory of the coalition of 683 was very far from being such. The democracy gave to it their name and their programme, but it was the officers who had joined the movement, and above all Pompeius, that gave to it power and completion; and these could never yield their consent to a reaction which would not only have shaken the existing state of things to its foundations, but would have ultimately turned against themselves--men still had a lively recollection who the men were whose blood Pompeius had shed, and how Crassus had laid the foundation of his enormous fortune. It was natural therefore, but at the same time significant of the weakness of the democracy, that the coalition of 683 took not the slightest step towards procuring for the democrats revenge or even rehabilitation. The supplementary collection of all the purchase money still outstanding for confiscated estates bought by auction, or even remitted to the purchasers by Sulla-- for which the censor Lentulus provided in a special law-- can hardly be regarded as an exception; for though not a few Sullans were thereby severely affected in their personal interests, yet the measure itself was essentially a confirmation of the confiscations undertaken by Sulla.

Impending Miliatry Dictatorship Of Pompeius

The work of Sulla was thus destroyed; but what the future order of things was to be, was a question raised rather than decided by that destruction. The coalition, kept together solely by the common object of setting aside the work of restoration, dissolved of itself, if not formally, at any rate in reality, when that object was attained; while the question, to what quarter the preponderance of power was in the first instance to fall, seemed approaching an equally speedy and violent solution. The armies of Pompeius and Crassus still lay before the gates of the city. The former had indeed promised to disband his soldiers after his triumph (last day of Dec. 683); but he had at first omitted to do so, in order to let the revolution in the state be completed without hindrance under the pressure which the Spanish army in front of the capital exercised over the city and the senate--a course, which in like manner applied to the army of Crassus. This reason now existed no longer; but still the dissolution of the armies was postponed. In the turn taken by matters it looked as if one of the two generals allied with the democracy would seize the military dictatorship and place oligarchs and democrats in the same chains. And this one could only be Pompeius. From the first Crassus had played a subordinate part in the coalition; he had been obliged to propose himself, and owed even his election to the consulship mainly to the proud intercession of Pompeius.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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