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generations. The craft and subtlety of the Grecian character were generally

despised by the early Romans. True it is, that when the interests of the Republic

seemed to be imperiled, the reasons which the conscience of Rome discovered for

adopting a given course of conduct were frequently of a sort which could not be

defended in a court of genuine morality. But the Senate of Rome never openly

avowed an immoral principle of action. The conscience of the Republic would

deceive itself with casuistry and false precedents; but the thing resolved on,

when once the question had been decided, was, thenceforth, defended as both right

and expedient. Nor does it appear that the fatal facility with which the Greeks

were in the habit of justifying the means by the ends found a frequent lodgment

in the Roman mind. Perhaps, the practicality of the people of Latium led them to

the conviction that an honorable course in the transaction of affairs was, in the

long run, more expedient than that duplicity with which the crafty races of

antiquity were in the habit of entangling themselves. At any rate, the moral

integrity of the Romans was not often shaken from its pillars.

The international affairs of the states of antiquity were generally transacted by

means of embassies. The modern expedients of diplomatic correspondence and of

ministers resident had not yet been adopted by the unskillful and suspicious

governments of the Old World. It was in the instructions given to ambassadors

sent abroad that the average national morality was most easily discovered. Here

it was that the conflict between interest and jealousy on the one hand, and right

principles of action on the other was most hotly waged. The embassies sent out by

Rome were generally characterized by integrity and fair dealing. By such bodies

an appeal was nearly always made to justice. Nor are instances wanting in which

the current interests of the state were apparently sacrificed by the legateship

and Senate rather than violate the imperfect codes of the times, or run counter

to an existing treaty.

The Romans generally kept a compact even with the foe, and during a period of

five hundred years, the records of the Republic are stained with fewer acts of

treachery than are those of any other ancient nation. True it is that when the

consul Posthumius, in the disaster of the Caudine Forks, had made a treaty with

the Samnite Pontius, unfavorable to the interests of the state, the Senate

refused either to ratify the compact or to put the army again into the power of

the enemy, but a justification for this rare procedure was found in the assertion

that Posthumius had no right to make a disgraceful treaty with the enemy of Rome.

As a general rule the Senate kept faith even with the barbarians. Numberless

traditions have preserved the records of the moral heroism of the Romans. From

Virginius to Regulus, and from Regulus to the mother of the Gracchi, the annals

of the imperial city are filled with the stories of the moral heroism of her


The private and domestic morality of the Roman was also superior to that of the

other Aryan nations. The Roman hearthstone was the sanctuary of the virtues of

home. Monogamy was the law of the state. There was a consequent elevation of

motherhood, and a