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ROME-THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC.

historian, with whom no event is an accident, known to be a part of that

unvaried scheme in accordance with which the destinies of the world are

fulfilled. It was at this juncture that Verres, the provincial governor of

Sicily, carried the abuses of his office to such a scandalous excess as to

compel a decision of the question whether Rome were to be master or he. Of

all the rapacious and plundering robbers into whose hands the Roman

provinces had fallen, no other perhaps had ever equaled Verres in cruelty

and greed. He systematically despoiled Sicily, not merely to enrich

himself-to fill his already glutted coffers to overflowing with the

treasures wrung from the blood and sweat of hundreds of thousands of

peasants-but also to lay by an enormous surplus or corruption fund for the

express purpose of buying up the Roman courts, before whose bar he was

liable to be arraigned at the expiration of his official term. For three

years he continued to rob and accumulate, until at last the outcry of the

starving island reached even the dull ears of Rome. Articles of impeachment

were declared against him, and his prosecution was undertaken by Marcus

Tullius Cicero. Such was the appalling array of damning facts and such the

vehemence, ability, and fiery eloquence of the prosecutor, and such the

rising indignation of the Roman populace against the great provincial

robber who had so unblushingly despoiled Sicily, that in order to escape

the worst he fled from the city and went into exile.

The tides were now in. Lucius Aurelius Cotta, the praetor, brought forward

a law by which it was enacted that one-third of the judges should be chosen

from the senatorial rank, another third from the equestrian order, and the

remainder from citizens below the knights. The statute was speedily

adopted, and received the approval of the consuls. The popularity of the

latter had constantly increased during their term of office, and this, too,

without their incurring a positive hostility from the Senate. The two

leaders vied with each other in the competition for applause. The one made

a lavish use of his means and the other of his military reputation-not

scorning the arts of the demagogue-to make themselves the centers of the

admiration of Rome.

The next menace to the Republic was given by the Mediterranean pirates. The

whole sea was infested with their craft. Twice in the previous history of

the country-once in B. C. 103 and again in 78-their suppression had been

attempted; but they swarmed all the more, until from Phoenicia to Spain

there was not a square mile of safe water. Every coast was kept in terror

by the pirate vessels hovering along the horizon. Italy herself was annoyed

beyond measure by these brigands of