Polybius, a Greek hostage living at Rome was perhaps the first political scientist to look at the way the Republic was put together.


With regard, indeed, to those states of Greece which have been often raised to a high degree of strength and power, and again as frequently have suffered an entire reverse of fortune, it would be no hard task either to treat of the events that have happened among them in past times, or to speak with some assurance concerning those that must hereafter happen. For it is easy to recount transactions that are known, and obvious likewise, from an attentive view of former accidents, to derive a foresight of the future. But with regard to the republic of the Romans, as the present condition of the government, on account of that variety of parts of which it is composed, cannot be explained without great labour; so, on the other hand, the want of being sufficiently acquainted both with the general institutions, and particular conduct, that have prevailed among this people in former times, renders it not less difficult to pronounce concerning their future fortune. It will be necessary, therefore, to employ the closest pains in order to obtain a distinct and comprehensive knowledge of the advantages that are peculiar to the constitution of this state.

Among those, then, who have treated of these matters in the way of science, the greatest part have distinguished civil government into three several kinds: royalty, aristocracy, and democracy. But it may very reasonably be demanded of these writers, whether they speak of these as the only kinds, or simply as the best. In either case, indeed, they must be charged with error. For, first, that kind of government is undoubtedly to be esteemed the best, which is composed of all the three now mentioned. The proof of this is evident, from experience and from fact, as well as reason. Such, for example, was the system first invented by Lycurgus, and established by him in Sparta. Nor is it true, on the other hand, that these are the only kinds. For many are the examples of monarchical and tyrannical governments, which are greatly different from royalty; though they appear indeed to bear some kind of resemblance to it: which gives occasion to all monarchs, to cover themselves, as well as they are able, under this disguise, and falsely to assume the regal name. There are likewise many oligarchical states, which seem to approach nearly in their form to aristocracies; though these are in truth very widely distant from them. The same observation may be made, with respect also to democracies. The following illustration will serve more clearly to explain my meaning.

It is not every government, which is conducted by a single sovereign, that is immediately to be termed a royalty; but that alone, which was at first bestowed by the consent of those who are governed; and which is administered according to right reason, rather than by force and terror. In the same manner, neither is every state to be called an aristocracy, which places the supreme direction of affairs in the hands of a few; but that only, in which those who are most distinguished by their prudence and integrity are appointed by free choice to govern. Nor, lastly, is that to be esteemed a democracy, in which the whole multitude usurp the liberty of pursuing their own counsels and designs without control. But when we see a people, who, from the ancient manners of their country, are accustomed to pay due worship to the gods, to revere their parents, to shew respect to the aged, and to obey the laws; when, in the assemblies of citizens like these, the resolutions of the greater part are made the rule of government; then we behold the form of a just democracy.

There are therefore six different kinds of government: three, which are in the mouths of all men, and which have now been mentioned; and three more, that are allied to these by nature; monarchy, oligarchy, and the government of the multitude. Of all these, the first in order is monarchy; which is established by the bare work of nature, without any preparation or design. From monarchy arises royalty; when art has been applied, to correct the vices of the former. And when royalty has degenerated into its congenial evil, which is tyranny; the destruction of the latter gives birth to aristocracy. This again being changed, according to the natural order of things, into oligarchy; the subjects, roused to vengeance by oppression, resist the injustice of their governors, and establish a democracy. And in the last place, when the people themselves become haughty and untractable, and reject all law; to democracy succeeds, in the course of time, the government of the multitude.

That this deduction is agreeable to truth, will be clear to every one, who considers with attention the commencement and first rise, as well as the changes, which nature has appropriated to each particular kind of government. And indeed there is no other way, but by observing what was the natural birth of every state, to judge with certainty concerning the progress of it towards perfection, and from thence to decline and ruin; and to discern, at what time, in what manner, and into what different form it will at last be changed. Above all others, the Roman government may best be illustrated by such a method of enquiry: because this state, both in its first establishment, and subsequent increase, display as close conformity with the settled laws, and regular course of nature.

I am not ignorant indeed, that Plato, and some other philosophers, have already treated with the greatest accuracy, of the several forms of government, and their alternate revolutions. But as there are but few, that are able to comprehend the length of their discourses, and the variety of matter which they contain; I shall endeavour rather to give a summary account of those more obvious principles, which are adapted both to common apprehension, and to the purposes of civil history. And in case that any obscurity or defect should be found in the general view, the particular detail, which I shall afterwards subjoin, will afford ample compensation, by removing every difficulty.

What then are the commencements, and what the original rise, of political societies? When a deluge, a pestilential disease, a famine, or any other similar cause, has brought destruction upon the human race; as tradition assures us it has happened in former times, and as it is probable it will again hereafter happen; and when all arts and institutions are extinguished also in the same calamity; from the few, that are left alive, another progeny of men springs up; who, being conscious of their natural weakness, and attracted, like all other animals, to a union with their own kind, associate themselves together in a body. At this time, therefore, it is manifest, that he who is superior both in strength and courage, must govern and conduct the rest. For that this is indeed the genuine work of nature, is most clearly seen in the examples of the several kinds of animals, which are led by natural instinct only, unimproved by reason. Such are cocks, bulls, and boars, as well as other kinds: among all which, those that are confessedly the first in strength, are placed at the head of all the herd. Such, therefore, is the original state of men; when they assemble together in a manner not unlike to that of other animals; and are led by those that are the bravest and most powerful. And this state may properly be called a monarchy: in which the authority of those that govern is measured by their strength. But afterwards, when in these societies a common education and mutual intercourse have produced new sentiments and habits, then first commences royalty; then first arise in the human mind the notions of honourable and base, of just and unjust. These sentiments, and this change of government, are formed in the following manner.

From the union of the two sexes, to which all are naturally inclined, children are born. When any of these therefore, being arrived at perfect age, instead of yielding suitable returns of gratitude and of assistance to those by whom they have been bred, on the contrary attempt to injure them, either by words or actions; it is manifest, that those who behold the wrong, after having also seen the sufferings and the anxious care that were sustained by the parents in the nourishment and education of these children, must be greatly offended and displeased at such proceeding. For man, who among all the various kinds of animals is alone endowed with the faculty of reason, cannot, like the rest, pass over such actions with indifference: but will make reflection on what he sees; and, comparing likewise the future with the present, will not fail to express his indignation at this injurious treatment; to which, as he foresees, he also may at some time be exposed. Thus again, when any one, who has been succoured by another in the time of danger, instead of showing the like kindness to his benefactor, endeavours, at any time, to destroy or hurt him; it is certain, that all men must be shocked by such ingratitude; through sympathy with the resentment of their neighbour; and from an apprehension also, that the case may be their own. And from hence arises, in the mind of every man, a certain sense of the nature and force of duty, in which consists both the beginning and the end of justice. In the same manner likewise, the man, who in the defence of others is seen to throw himself the foremost into every danger, and even to sustain the fury of the fiercest animals, never fails to obtain the loudest acclamations of applause and veneration from all the multitude; while he, who shews a different conduct, is pursued with censure and reproach. And thus it is, that the people begin to discern the nature of things honourable or base, and in what consists the difference between them; and to perceive, that the former, on account of the advantage that attends them, are fit to be admired and imitated, and the latter to be detested and avoided. When he, therefore, who possesses the greatest power, and is placed at the head of all the rest, is found always to comply with the general sentiments, in supporting fortitude and merit, and in distributing to every one impartial justice; the people no longer dreading his superior force, but paying a willing obedience to his wisdom, submit themselves to his authority, and, with one consent, maintain him in his government against all invaders, even to extreme old age. And thus the monarch by insensible degrees becomes a king; when reason takes the rule, in place of strength and violence. Such are the first perceptions among mankind of justice and injustice, of base and honourable; and such the origin and rise of genuine royalty. For the people not only confirm these leaders in the possession of the power to which they have been raised, but preserve it to their children likewise: being persuaded, that those who have received their birth and education from virtuous parents, cannot but resemble them in manners. And if, at any time, they are displeased at the conduct of these descendants, they then choose other magistrates and kings. But having been taught to discern by past experience the difference between external faculties and the endowments of the mind, they now appoint to the supreme command, not those that excel in bodily strength and vigour, but those who are distinguished by their wisdom and superior reason.

In ancient times then, those who had been once judged worthy to be invested with the regal dignity, continued, during the remainder of their lives, in the undisturbed possession and exercise of government: fortifying all the advantageous posts; inclosing their towns with walls, and obtaining such an increase of territory as was necessary for the security or the plentiful subsistence of their subjects. And as they assumed no great distinction either in their dress or table, but lived a life that was conformable in every point to that of the other citizens, they raised against themselves no envy, nor afforded any matter of offence. But their descendants, having received the sovereignty in the course of hereditary succession, and finding that all things already were obtained that were convenient for defence, and that the abundance of all necessaries exceeded the demands of nature, were soon hurried, by the wantonness of ease and plenty, into an open gratification of every passion. They then began to be persuaded that it was necessary that kings should be distinguished from their subjects by more splendid habits, and be served with more costly and luxurious tables; and pursued also with full career the indulgence of their amours, however lawless, without admitting any contradiction or control. The first of these disorders soon excited envy and offence, and the latter wrath and unrelenting hatred. And from hence the royalty being now converted into tyranny, the dissolution of it was begun, by machinations formed against the persons of the sovereigns. These conspiracies were at first contrived, not by men of obscure or low condition, but by those of noblest birth, and who were the most distinguished by their courage and exalted spirit: for such are at all times most impatient of the insolence of princes. But the people being not less offended also and enraged, having once obtained such leaders, readily joined their forces in the same attempt. And thus the form of royalty and monarchy being utterly destroyed, an aristocracy grew up, and was established in its place.

For the people, moved with present gratitude towards those who had delivered them from tyranny, resolved to invest them with the government, and submitted themselves to their guidance and dominion. And these, being on their part also not less satisfied with the honour that was bestowed upon them, regarded the good of the community as the only rule of their administration; and employed their whole care and pains to promote the happiness of individuals, as wells as to advance the common interests of all. But when again the children of these governors were raised in the course of succession likewise to the same authority; unpractised, as they had always been, in hardship or misfortune; and unexperienced also in that equality and liberty upon which the government was founded; having been nurtured from their birth in the pre-eminence and honours of their parents; they began, some of them, to accumulate inordinate wealth by fraud and violence; while others, allowing a full indulgence to their passions, abandoned themselves without restraint to riot and intemperance, adulteries, and rapes. And thus the aristocracy being now changed into an oligarchy, the passions of the multitude were once more inflamed; and the same destruction followed that had before fallen upon the kings, when they had degenerated into tyrants. For no sooner was there found a single citizen, who, being encouraged by the general discontent and hatred that such a conduct had occasioned, was bold enough, either by words or actions, to attempt any thing against the governors, than the people with one consent were ready to concur in the design. And when they had killed or driven into banishment their oppressors, not daring to establish royalty, on account of the misconduct of the former kinds, and being deterred also by the mischiefs which they still more lately had experienced from yielding the sovereignty to any certain number, they were then forced to have recourse to the single expedient which was left untried, and to place in themselves alone their confidence of safety. And having assumed into their own hands the conduct and the trust of government, they thus framed a democracy upon the ruins of the oligarchy.

During some time afterwards, and while any of those remained alive who had beheld the miseries that flowed from the former unequal government, the people were all well pleased to maintain this popular state; and thought that nothing was more valuable than equality and liberty. But after the course of one or two successions, as new men sprang up, even these enjoyments, being now become familiar to them, began, through long use and habit, to be lessened in their esteem, and to give place to the desire of pre-eminence and power. Above all the rest, those who had acquired the greatest wealth, being eager likewise to possess the sovereign rule, and not able to obtain it by their own strength and virtue, endeavoured to draw the people to their side; scattering among them, with profusion, all their riches, and employing every method of corruption; till, by degrees, they had taught them to fix their who attention upon the gifts by which they were sustained, and rendered their avidity subservient to the views of their own wild ambition. And thus the frame of the democracy was dissolved; and gave place to the rule of violence and force. For when once the people were accustomed to be fed without any cost or labour, and to derive all the means of their subsistence from the wealth of other citizens; if at this time some bold and enterprising leader should arise, whose poverty has shut him out from all the honours of the state, then commences the government of the multitude: who run together in tumultuous assemblies, and are hurried into every kind of violence; assassinations, banishments, and divisions of lands: till, being reduced at last to a state of savage anarchy, they once more find a master and a monarch, and submit themselves to arbitrary sway.

Such is the circle in which political societies are resolved, and such the natural order in which the several kinds of government are varied, till they are at last brought back to that original form from which the progress was begun. With the help of being acquainted with these principles, though it may not perhaps be easy to foretell the exact time of every alteration that may happen in a state, yet, if our sentiments are free from prejudice and passion, we shall very rarely be deceived in judging of the degree, either of exaltation or decline, in which it actually subsists, or in declaring the form into which it must at last be changed.


[Digression on subject of Lycurgus]


The three kinds of government, of which we have been speaking, were all found united in the commonwealth of Rome. And so even was the balance between them all, and so regular the administration that resulted from their union, that it was no easy thing, even for the Romans themselves, to determine with assurance, whether the entire state was to be esteemed an aristocracy, a democracy, or a monarchy. For if they turned their view upon the power of the consuls, the government appeared to be purely monarchical and regal. If, again, the authority of the senate was considered, it then seemed to wear the form of aristocracy. And, lastly, if regard was had to the share which the people possessed in the administration of affairs, it could then scarcely fail to be denominated a popular state. The several powers that were appropriated to each of these distinct branches of the constitution at the time of which we are speaking, and which, with very little variation, are even still preserved, are these which follow.

The consuls, while they remain in Rome, before they lead out the armies into the field, are the masters of all public affairs. For all the other magistrates, the tribunes alone excepted, are subject to them, and bound to obey their commands. They introduce ambassadors into the senate. They propose also to the senate the subjects of debate; and direct all the forms that are observed in making the decrees. Nor is it less a part of their office likewise, to attend to those affairs that are transacted by the people; to call together general assemblies; to report to them the resolutions of the senate; and to ratify whatever is determined by the greater number. In all the preparations that are made for war, as well as in the whole administration in the field, they possess an almost absolute authority. For to them it belongs to impose upon the allies whatever services they judge expedient; to appoint the military tribunes; to enroll the legions, and make the necessary levies; and to inflict punishments in the field, upon all that are subject to their command. Add to this, that they have the power likewise to expend whatever sums they may think convenient from the public treasure; being attended for that purpose by a quaestor, who is always ready to receive and execute their orders. When any one therefore directs his view to this part of the constitution, it is very reasonable for him to conclude, that the government is no other than a simple royalty. Let me only observe, that if in some of these particular points, or in those that will be hereafter mentioned, any change should be either now remarked, or should happen at some future time, such an alteration will not destroy the general principles of this discourse.

To the senate belongs, in the first place, the sole care and management of the public money. For all the returns that are brought into the treasury, as well as all the payments that are issued from it, are directed by their orders. Nor is it allowed to the quaestors to supply any part of the revenue to particular occasions, as they arise, without a decree of the senate; those sums alone excepted, which are expended in the service of the consuls. And even those more general, as well as greatest disbursements, which are employed at the return of every five years, in building and repairing the public edifices, are assigned to the censors for that purpose, by the express permission of the senate. To the senate also is referred the cognizance of all the crimes, committed in any part of Italy, that demand a public examination and enquiry: such as treasons, conspiracies, poisonings, and assassinations. Add to this, that when any controversies arise, either between private men, or any of the cities of Italy, it is the part of the senate to adjust all disputes; to censure those that are deserving of blame: and to yield assistance to those, who stand in need of protection and defence. When any embassies are sent out of Italy; either to reconcile contending states; to offer exhortations and advice; or even, as it sometimes happens, to impose commands; to propose conditions of a treaty; or to make a denunciation of war; the care and conduct of all these transactions is entrusted wholly to the senate. When any ambassadors also arrive at Rome, it is the senate likewise the determines, in what manner they shall be received and treated, and what answer shall be given to their demands. In all these things, that have now been mentioned, the people has no share. To those therefore, who come to reside in Rome during the absence of the consuls, the government appears to be purely aristocratical. Many of the Greeks especially, and of the foreign princes, are easily led into this persuasion; when they perceive that almost all the affairs, which they are forced to negociate with the Romans, are determined by the senate.

And now it may well be asked, what part is left to the people in this government: since the senate, on the one hand, is vested with the sovereign power, in the several instances that have been here enumerated, and more especially in all things that concern the management and disposal of the public treasure; and since the consuls, on the other hand, are entrusted with the absolute direction of the preparations that are made of war, and exercise and uncontrolled authority in the field. There is, however, a part still allotted to the people; and indeed the most important part. For first, the people are the sole dispensers of rewards and punishments; which are the only bands, by which states and kingdoms, and, in a word, all human societies, are held together. For when the difference between these is overlooked, or when they are distributed without due distinction, nothing but disorder can ensue. Nor is it possible indeed, that government should be maintained, if the wicked stand in equal estimation with the good. The people then, when any offences demand such punishment, frequently condemn the citizens to the payment of a fine: those especially, who have been invested with the dignities of the state. To the people alone belongs the right to sentence any one to die. Upon this occasion, they have a custom which deserves to be mentioned with applause. The person accused is allowed to withdraw himself in open view, and to embrace a voluntary banishment, if only a single tribe remains, that has not yet given judgment; and is suffered to retire in safety to Praeneste, Tibur, Naples, or any other of the confederate cities. The public magistracies are allotted also by the people to those who are esteemed worthy of them: and these are the noblest rewards that any government can bestow on virtue. To the people belongs the power of approving or rejecting laws; and, which is still of greater importance, peace and war are likewise fixed by their deliberations. When any alliance is concluded, any war ended, or treaty made; to them the conditions are referred, and by them either annulled or ratified. And thus again, from a view of all these circumstances, it might with reason be imagined, that the people had engrossed the largest portion of the government, and that the state was plainly a democracy.

Such are the parts of the administration, which are distinctly assigned to each of the three forms of government, that are united in the commonwealth of Rome. It now remains to be considered, in what manner each several form is enabled to counteract the others, or to co-operate with them.

When the consuls, invested with the power that has been mentioned, lead the armies into the field, though they seem indeed to hold such absolute authority as is sufficient for all purposes, yet are they in truth so dependent both on the senate the people, that without their assistance they are by no means able to accomplish any design. It is well known, that armies demand a continual supply of necessaries. But neither corn, nor habits, nor even the military stipends, can at any time be transmitted to the legions unless by an express order of the senate. Any opposition therefore, or delay, on the part of this assembly, is sufficient always to defeat the enterprises of the generals. It is the senate likewise, that either compels the consuls to leave their designs imperfect, or enables them to complete the projects which they have formed, by sending a successor into each of their several provinces, upon the expiration of the annual term, or by continuing them in the same command. The senate also has the power to aggrandise and amplify the victories that are gained, or, on the contrary, to depreciate and debase them. For that which is called among the Romans a triumph, in which a sensible representation of the actions of the generals is exposed in solemn procession to the view of all the citizens, can neither be exhibited with due pomp and splendour, nor indeed by in any manner celebrated, unless the consent of the senate be first obtained, together with the sums that are requisite for the expence. Nor is it less necessary on the other hand, that the consuls, how far soever they may happen to be removed from Rome, should be careful to preserve the good affections of the people. For the people, as we have already mentioned, annuls or ratifies all treaties. But that which is of greatest moment is, that the consuls, at the time of laying down their office, are bound also to submit their past administration to the judgment of the people And thus these magistrates can at no time think themselves secure, if they neglect to gain the approbation both of the senate and the people.

In the same manner the senate also, though invested with so great authority, is bound to yield a certain attention to the people and to act in concert with them, in all affairs that are of great and general importance. With regard especially to those offences that are committed against the state, and which demand a capital punishment, no enquiry can be perfected, nor any judgment carried into execution, unless the people confirm what the senate has before decreed. Nor are the things, which more immediately regard the senate itself, less subject to the same control. For if a law should at any time be proposed, to lessen the received authority of the senators; to detracted from their honours and pre-eminence; or even to deprive them of a part of their possessions; it belongs wholly to the people to establish or reject it. And even still more; the interposition of a single tribune is sufficient, not only to suspend the deliberations of the senate, but to prevent them also from holding any meeting or assembly. Now the peculiar office of the tribunes is, to declare those sentiments that are most pleasing to the people; and principally to promote their interests and designs. And thus the senate, on account of all these reasons, is forced to cultivate the favour, and gratify the inclinations of the people.

The people again, on their part, are held in a dependence on the senate, and are obliged to pay a certain deference, both to the particular members, and to the general body. In every part of Italy there are works of various kinds, which are let to farm by the censors; such as the building, or repairing, of the public edifices, which are almost innumerable; the care of rivers, harbours, gardens, mines, and lands; everything, in a word, that falls beneath the dominion of the Romans. In all these things, the people are the undertakers: insomuch that there are scarcely any to be found, that are not in some degree involved, either in the contracts, or in the management of the works. For some take the farms of the censors at a certain price: others become partners with the first. Some again engage themselves as sureties for the farmers: and others, in support also for these sureties, pledge their own fortunes to the state. Now the supreme direction of all these affairs is placed wholly in the senate. The senate has the power to allot a longer time; to lighten the conditions of the agreement, in case that any accident has intervened; or even to release the contractors from their bargain, if the terms should be found impracticable. There are also many other circumstances, in which those that are engaged in any of these public works, may be either greatly injured, or greatly benefited by the senate; since to this body, as we have already observed, all things that belong to these transactions are constantly referred. But there is still another advantage of much greater moment. For from this order likewise judges are selected, in almost every accusation of considerable weight, whether it be of a public or private nature. The people therefore, being by these means held under due subjection and restraint and doubtful of obtaining that protection, which they foresee that they may at some time want, are always cautious of exciting any opposition to the measures of the senate. Nor are they, on the other hand, less ready to pay obedience to the orders of the consuls; through the dread of that supreme authority, to which the citizens in general, as well as each particular man, are obnoxious in the field.

Thus, while each of these separate parts is enabled either to assist or obstruct the rest, the government, by the apt contexture of them all in the general frame, is so well secured against every accident, that it seems scarcely possible to invent a more perfect system. For when the dread of any common danger, that threatens from abroad, constrains all the orders of the state to unite together, and co-operate with joint assistance; such is the strength of the republic, that as, on the one hand, no measures that are necessary are neglected, while all men fix their thoughts upon the present exigency; so neither is it possible, on the other hand, that their designs should at any time be frustrated through the want of due celerity, because all in general, as well as every citizen in particular, employ their utmost efforts, to carry what has been determined into execution. Thus the government, by the very form and peculiar nature of its constitution, is equally enabled to resist all attacks, and to accomplish every purpose. And when again all apprehensions of foreign enemies are past, and the Romans being now settled in tranquillity, and enjoying at their leisure all the fruits of victory, begin to yield to the seduction of ease and plenty, and, as it happens usually in such conjunctures, become haughty and ungovernable; then chiefly we may observe, in what manner the same constitution likewise finds in itself a remedy against the impending danger. For whenever either of the separate parts of the republic attempts to exceed its proper limits, excites contention and dispute, and struggles to obtain a greater share of power, than that which is assigned to it by the laws; it is manifest, that since no one single part, as we have shewn in this discourse, is in itself supreme or absolute, but that on the contrary the powers which are assigned to each are still subject to reciprocal control, the part, which thus aspires, must soon be reduced again within its own just bounds, and not be suffered to insult or depress the rest. And thus the several orders, of which the state is framed, are forced always to maintain their due position: being partly counterworked in their designs; and partly also restrained from making any attempt, by the dread of falling under that authority to which they are exposed.


*** Extracts on the military customs of the Romans.


The youngest of these troops are armed with a sword, light javelins, and a buckler. The buckler is both strongly made, and of a size sufficient for security. For it is of a circular form, and has three feet in the diameter. They wear likewise upon their heads some simple sort of covering; such as the skin of a wolf, or something of a similar kind; which serves both for their defense, and to point out also to the commanders those particular soldiers that are distinguished either by their bravery or want of courage in the time of action. The wood of the javelins is of the length of two cubits, and the thickness of a finger. The iron part is a span in length; and is drawn out to such a slender fineness towards the point, that it never fails to be bent in the very first discharge, so that the enemy cannot throw it back again. Otherwise it would be a common javelin.

The next in age, who are called the hastati, are ordered to furnish themselves with a complete suit of armour. This among the Romans consists in the first place of a shield of a convex surface; the breadth of which is two feet and a half; and the length four feet and a palm in those of the largest size. It is composed of two planks, clued together, and covered first with linen, and afterwards with calves'-skin. The extreme edges of it, both above and below, are guarded with plates of iron: as well to secure it against the strokes of swords, as that it may be rested also upon the ground without receiving any injury. To the surface is fitted likewise a shell of iron; which serves to turn aside the more violent strokes of stones, or spears, or any other ponderous weapon. After the shield comes the sword, which is carried upon the right thigh, and is called the Spanish sword. It is formed not only to push with at the point; but to make a falling stroke with either edge, and with singular effect: for the blade is remarkably strong and firm. To these arms are added two piles or javelins; a helmet made of brass; and boots for the legs... Upon the helmet is worn an ornament of three upright feathers, either red or black, of about a cubit in height; which being fixed upon the very top of the head, and added to their other arms, make the troops seem to be of double size, and gives them an appearance which is both beautiful and terrible. Beside these arms, the soldiers in general place also upon their breasts a square plate of brass, of the measure of a span on either side, which is called the guard of the heart. But all those who are rated at more than ten thousand drachmae cover their breasts with a coat of mail. The principes and the triarii are armed in the same manner likewise as the hastati; except only that the triarii carry pikes instead of javelins.




The cause is judged by the tribune, and the guilty person sentenced to be bastinaded. This punishment is inflicted in the following manner.

The tribune, taking a stick into his hand, gently touches the criminal; and immediately afterwards all the soldiers of the legion attack him with sticks and stones; so that the greatest part of those that are thus condemned are destroyed immediately in the camp. If any one escapes, yet he is not saved. For all return into his country is shut against him: nor would any of his friends or kindred ever dare to receive him into their houses. Those, therefore, who have once fallen into this misfortune are lost without resource...

If it happens that many are at one time guilty of the same fault, and that whole companies retire before the enemy, and desert their station; instead of punishing all of them with death, an expedient is employed which is both useful and full of terror. The tribune, assembling together all the soldiers of the legion, commands the criminals to be brought forwards; and, having sharply reproached them with their cowardice, he then draws out by lot either five, or eight, or twenty men, according to the number of those that have offended. For this proportion is usually so adjusted, that every tenth man is reserved for punishment. Those, who are thus separated from the rest by lot, are bastinaded without remission in the manner before described. The others are sentenced to be fed with barley instead of wheat; and are lodged without the intrenchment, exposed to insults from the enemy. As the danger, therefore, and the dread of death, hangs equally over all the guilty, because no one can foresee upon whom the lot will fall; and as the shame and infamy of receiving barley only for their support is extended also alike to all; this institution is perfectly well contrived, both for impressing present terror, and for the prevention of future faults.

The method by which the young men are animated to brave all danger is also admirable. When an action has passed in which any of the soldiers have shewn signal proofs of courage, the consul, assembling the troops together, commands those to approach who have distinguished themselves by any eminent exploit. And having first bestowed on every one of them apart the commendation that is due to this particular instance of their valour and recounted likewise all their former actions that have ever merited applause, he then distributes among them the following rewards. To him who has wounded an enemy, a javelin. To him who has killed an enemy, and stripped him of his armour, if he be a soldier in the infantry, a goblet; if in the cavalry, furniture for his horse; though, in former times, this last was presented only with a javelin. These rewards, however, are not bestowed upon the soldiers who, in a general battle, or in the attack of a city, would or spoil and enemy; but upon those alone who, in separate skirmishes, and when any occasion offers, in which no necessity requires them to engage in single contest, throw themselves voluntarily into danger, and with design provoke the combat. When a city is taken by storm, those who mount first upon the walls are honoured with a golden crown. Those also who have saved the lives of any of the citizens, or the allies, by covering them from the enemy in the time of battle, receive presents from the consul, and are crowned likewise by the persons themselves who have been thus preserved, and who, if they refuse this office, are compelled by the judgment of the tribunes to perform it. Add to this, that those who are thus saved are bound, during the remainder of their lives, to reverence their preserver as a father, and to render to him all the duties which they would pay to him who gave them birth. Nor are the effects of these rewards, in raising a spirit of emulation and of courage, confined to those alone who are present in the army, but extended likewise to all the citizens at home. For those who have obtained those presents, beside the honour which they acquire among their fellow-soldiers, and the reputation which immediately attends them in their country, are distinguished after their return, by wearing in all solemn processions such ornaments as are permitted only to be worn by those who have received them from the consuls as the rewards of their valour. They hang up likewise in the most conspicuous parts of their homes the spoils which they have taken, as a monument and evidence of their exploits. Since such, therefore, is the attention and the care with which the Romans distribute rewards and punishments in their armies, it is not to be thought strange that the wars to which they engage are always ended with glory and success.