ROME-MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
by these circumstances that the defeated victim sank to the sand without a groan
or murmur. So far as the combatants were concerned the tragedy was completed
without a sound louder than the splash of blood and the strained breath of the
dying; but the shout which rose when the victor held aloft his bloody sword might
have shaken the sea. Rome was delighted. (1)
When the arena was strewn and heaped with corpses, the attendants came in and
dragged them out of sight. The bottom was covered with fresh sand to quench the
pools of blood, and the sport went on. Rome was delighted. At midday lunch was
served to the thousands, by order of the Emperor. The people who no longer met in
the Forum to hear the great orators discourse of liberty, sat in the seats of the
amphitheater in sight of the blood muck of the arena and ate the bread of Caesar.
Rome was delighted. It was in scenes such as these that the public life of the
Imperial City displayed itself and sought to be satisfied.
Down to the dose of the Empire the games continued to hold their place as the
principal enjoyment of the Romans. Christianity protested stoutly against their
continuance; but when the protest proved unavailing many adherents of the new
faith yielded to what they could not control, and participated in the bloody
spectacles. It was not until barbarism had come in like a flood, not until the
stern code of the Arab in the East and the sterner conscience of the Teuton in
the West began to be factors in that new order of things to which Rome was a
stranger, that the fearful atrocities in which the race of Romulus had come to
take delight were abolished. In Spain-the only country of Modem Europe in which
the spirit of Old Rome is still predominant-the bullfight yet preserves the
horrors without the heroism which were exhibited with pride on the sands of the
great circuses by the Tiber.
Turning, then, to the domestic, as distinguished from the public, life of the
Romans, we find much which is entitled to our sympathy. The man of the early
Republic was the head of a household. He was its priest, and in some sense its
king. He had around him a host of sons and daughters. Monogamy was the law of the
family. The father must be reverenced and honored. The sons grown to manhood were
not released from his authority. The married daughters passed from his control to
that of their husbands. The single will of the head of the house was predominant,
and might not be treated with neglect or slight. He was known as the pater
familias, and his authority was absolute within his own domain. In the case of
his absence or death the mother, who was called the matrona, exercised a good
part of his prerogatives. She ordered the household, exacted obedience, conducted
the education of the boys. Women of this class were of great influence in Roman
society. Many of them were known to fame, and no doubt deserved their exalted
reputation as virtuous and patriotic mothers. Such was Cornelia, the mother of
the Gracchi, exhibiting her sons as her jewels, and educating them for the
service of the state.
The boys of the better class of Romans were generally trained at home. This duty
was performed either by the mother or, as was usually the case, by a pedagogue
who was employed for that purpose. For this office a Greek was preferred. At any
rate, he must be able to teach Greek, as all youths of the upper class were
expected to learn that language, even in preference to their own. In the
____________________________________ 1 Byron's famous stanza on the Dying
Gladiator may be appropriately added: "I see before me the gladiator lie.
He leans upon his hand, his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony; And
his drooped head sinks gradually low- And through his side the last drops ebbing
From the red gash fall heavy, one by one, Like the first of a thunder shower; and
now The arena swims around him-he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout which
hailed the wretch who won.
He heard it, but he heeded not-his eyes Were with his heart, and that was far
away; He recked not of the life he lost nor prize- But where his rude hut by the
Danube lay, There were his young barbarians all at play; There was their Dacian
mother-he their sire
Butchered to make a Roman holiday! All this rushed with his blood-shall he
expire, And unavenged? Arise, ye Goths, and glut your ire!"