UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
recognition of domestic ties well calculated to preserve the purity of the
fountain of society. It appears, too, that the Roman father was less castaway in
his domestic habits than almost any other man of antiquity. He was bound to his
offspring by true paternal feelings. In his son he recognized the rightful heir
to his own place in the state when the same should be vacant, and in his daughter
one of the prospective matrons of Rome. In the society of Greece, it was
generally the hetaera who shared the counsels and confidence of the man of her
choice; but in Rome it was the wife who was thus honored and trusted by her lord.
It is certain that more examples of sublime motherhood under the sanction of law,
and of wifehood under the sanction of affection, can be adduced from the annals
of the Roman Republic than from the domestic records of any other ancient people.
So long as the names of Lucretia and Cornelia, of Horatia and Portia, remain in
the literature of the world, so long will the matrons of Rome continue to be held
In person the people of the Roman race were strongly discriminated from those of
other nations. In stature they were above the average of the races of the East,
but were lower than the stalwart tribes of the North. The Roman had neither the
symmetry of the Greek nor the heavy muscles of the Assyrian. His bodily form was
between these two extremes. In endurance, however, he was, perhaps, the equal, if
not the superior, of either. His features were of a type peculiar to itself. The
delicacy of the Grecian outline has here given place to strength and severity.
Beauty has yielded to impressiveness. National character is written in every
line. The mastery of the world was possible only to a man with such a visage. The
Greek face was artistic; the Roman, masterful. The one was beautiful; the other,
strong. The ideal expression of the one gives place to the stern resolve of the
other. Here are the protruding chin, the firm set mouth, the deep furrows in the
facial muscles; above all, the tremendous aquiline nose, standing out defiantly
against every menace of barbarism; the saturnine brows, heavy with great
purposes; the large head, broad between the ears, and mounted on a neck strong
enough for one of the gods-a physiognomy never to be mistaken for that of any
other than the man of the Imperial City.
As already said, the Roman stature was not above the average of the Western
peoples. It was in strength rather than unwieldy proportions that the soldier of
the legion surpassed his contemporary destroyers. Both of these facts-the medium
height and great muscular power of the Romans-are fully attested by the size and
weight of the weapons carried by the legionaries, as well as by many references
in Latin literature. It was only in comparison with the monstrous Gauls and
Germans that the bodies of the Romans appeared to be dwarfed to insignificant
proportions. In this case the disparity in size was such as to excite the
comments if not the ridicule of the northern giants. (1)
In the display of bodily power and activity the Romans consistently gave
themselves to the practical. Rome was massive in every part. Here was achieved a
solid grandeur never before equaled except in the valley of the Nile. There was
no trifling in the great works undertaken by the Latin race. The building seemed
to be for eternity. Take the Appian Way. Observe the spirit in which it was
conceived and executed. Stretching down through the whole length of Latium and
_______________________________ 1 It is related by Caesar in the Gallic War that
when, on a certain occasion, he had cooped up in a walled town a band of the huge
barbarians of Gaul they came out on the ramparts and made game of the Roman
veterans. - "What," said they, "are you setting up that tower out there for? How
can such diminutives as you bring down that engine against the walls?" "For,"
says Caesar with evident mortification, "in comparison with the magnitude of the
bodies of the Gauls our own brevity is a thing of contempt."