Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (155): The Roman Oration: "It is a time-honored custom of travelers, setting forth by land or sea...
...to make a prayer pledging the performance of some vow—whatever they have in mind—on safe arrival at their destination. I recall a poet who playfully parodied the custom by pledging "grain of incense—with gilded horns!" As for me, the vow that I made as I journeyed hither was not of the usual stupid and irrelevant kind, nor one unrelated to the art of my profession: merely that if I came through safely, I would salute your city with a public address.
...But since it was quite impossible to pledge words commensurate with your city, it became evident that I had need of a second prayer. It is perhaps really presumptuous to dare undertake an oration to equal such majesty in a city. However. I have promised to address you, and I can speak only as I can. Yet even so it may not he unacceptable, for I could name others too who hold that if they do the very best they can, it will seem good enough even to the gods.
But, sirs, you who are at home in the great city, if you share the hope that I prove not false to my vow, join your prayers to mine for the success of my boldness. Suffer me to say at once, before I come to the praise of your city, that here I found men—in a phrase of Euripides—"able to inspire one, though he were speechless before, to eloquence and skill," to discourse on things quite beyond his natural gifts.
Praise of Rome the City:
Praise of your city all men sing and will continue to sing. Yet their words accomplish less than if they had never been spoken. Their silence would not have magnified or diminished her in the least, nor changed your knowledge of her. But their encomiums accomplish quite the opposite of what they intend, for their words do not show precisely what is truly admirable. If an artist should make a botch of it after undertaking to portray in a painting a body of famous beauty, probably everyone would say it would have been better not to paint it at all; to have let them see the body itself, or at least not to show them a caricature.
And so I think it is with your city. Their speeches take away from her root of her wonders. It is like some effort to describe the marvelous size of an army such as Xerxes'. The man tells of seeing 10,000 infantry here, and 20,000 there, and so and so many cavalry, without reporting in what excites his wonder even a mere fraction of the whole.
For it is she who first proved that oratory cannot reach every goal. About her not only is it impossible to speak properly, but it is impossible even to see her properly. In truth it requires some all-seeing Argos—rather, the all-seeing god who dwells in the city. For beholding so many hills occupied by buildings, or on plains so many meadows completely urbanized, or so much land brought under the name of one city, who could survey her accurately? And from what point of observation?
Homer says of snow that as it falls, it covers "the crest of the range and the mountain peaks and the flowering fields and the rich acres of men, and," he says, "it is poured out over the white sea, the harbors and the shores." So also of this city. Like the snow, she covers mountain peaks, she covers the land intervening, and she goes down to the sea, where the commerce of all mankind has its common exchange and all the produce of the earth has its common market. Wherever one may go in Rome, there is no vacancy to keep one from being, there also, in mid-city.
And indeed she is poured out, not just over the level ground, but in a manner with which the simile cannot begin to keep pace, she rises great distances into the air, so that her height is not to be compared to a covering of snow but rather to the peaks themselves. And as a man who far surpasses others in size and strength likes to show his strength by carrying others on his back, so this city, which is built over so much land, is not satisfied with her extent. but raising upon her shoulders others of equal size, one over the other, she carries them. It is from this that she gets her name, and strength (rome) is the mark of all that is hers. Therefore, if one chose to unfold, as it were, and lay flat on the ground the cities which now she carries high in air, and place them side by side, all that part of Italy which intervenes would, I think, be filled and become one continuous city stretching to the Strait of Otranto.
Though she is so vast as perhaps even now I have not sufficiently shown, but as the eye test more clearly, it is not possible to say of her as of other cities "There she stands". Again, it has been said of the capital cities of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians—and may no ill omen attend the comparison—that the first would in size appear twice as great as in its intrinsic power, the second far inferior in size to its intrinsic power. But of this city, great in every respect, no one could say that she has not created power in keeping with her magnitude. No, if one looks at the whole empire and reflects how small a fraction rules the whole world, he may be amazed at the city, but when he has beheld the city herself and the boundaries of the city, he can no longer be amazed that the entire civilized world is ruled by one so great.
The Scope of Rome the Empire:
Some chronicler, speaking of Asia, asserted that one man ruled as much land as the sun passed, and this statement was not true because he placed all Africa and Europe outside the limits where the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. It has now however turned to be true. Your possession is equal to what the can pass, and the sun passes over your land. Neither the Chelidonean nor the Cyanean promontories limit your empire, nor does the distance from which a horseman can reach the sea in one day, nor do you reign within fixed boundaries, nor does another dictate to what point your control reaches; but the sea like a girdle lies extended, at once in the middle of the civilized of the civilized world and of your hegemony.
Around it lie the great continents greatly sleeping, ever offering to you in full measure something of their own. Whatever the seasons make grow and whatever countries and rivers and lakes and arts of Hellenes and non-Hellenes produce are brought from every land and sea, so that if one would look at all these things, he must needs behold them either by visiting the entire civilized world or by coming to this city. For whatever is grown and made among each people cannot fail to be here at all times and in abundance. And here the the merchant vessels come carrying these many products from all region in every season and even at every equinox, so that the city appears a kind of common emporium of the world.
Cargoes from India and, if you will, even from Arabia the Blest one can see in such numbers as to surmise that in those lands the trees will have been stripped bare and that the inhabitants of these lands, if they need anything, must come here and beg for a share of their own. Again one can see Babylonian garments and ornaments from the barbarian country beyond arriving in greater quantity and with more ease than if shippers from Naxos or from Cythnos, bearing something from those islands, had but to enter the port of Athens. Your farms are Egypt, Sicily and the civilized part of Africa.
Arrivals and departures by sea never cease, so that the wonder is not that the harbor has insufficient space for merchant vessels, but that even the see has enough, if it really does.
And just as Hesiod said about the ends of the Ocean, that there is a common channel where all waters have one source and destination, so there is a common channel to Rome and all meet here, trade, shipping, agriculture, metallurgy, all the arts and crafts that are or ever have been, all the things that are engendered or or grow from the earth. And whatever one does not see here neither did nor does exist. And so it is not easy to which is greater, the superiority of this city in respect to the cities that now are or the superiority of this city respect to the empires that ever were.
Comparison with the Achaemenid Persian Empire:
I blush now after such great and impressive matters have been mentioned. my argument reaches a point where it is without great and impressive material; I shall distinguish myself ingloriously by recalling some barbarian empire or Hellenic power and it will seem that I intend to do the opposite of what the Aeolic poets did. For they, when they wished to disparage any work of their contemporaries, compared it with something great and famous among the ancients, thinking in this way best to expose its deficiency. Yet having no other way to show the degree of your empire's superiority, shall compare it with petty ancient ones. For you have made all the greatest achievements appear very small by your success in surpassing them. Selecting the most important, I shall discuss them, though you perhaps will laugh at them then.
On the one hand, let us look at the Persian Empire, which in its day had indeed reputation among the Hellenes and gave to the king who ruled it the epithet "great"—for I shall omit the preceding empires which were even less ideal—and let us see all in succession, both its size and the things which were done in in its time. Therefore we must examine in conjunction how they themselves enjoyed what they had acquired and how they affected their subjects.
First then, what the Atlantic now means to you, the Mediterranean was to the "King" in that day. Here his empire stopped, so that the Ionians and Aeolians were at the end of his world. Once when he, "the King of those from the Sunrise to the Sunset," tried to cross into Greece, he evoked wonder less for his own greatness than for the greatness of his defeat, and he exhibited his splendor in the enormity of his losses. He who failed by so much to win control over Hellas, and who held Ionia as his most remote possession is, I think, left behind by your empire not by a mere discus throw or an arrow's flight, but by a good half of the civilized world and by the sea in addition.
Moreover, even within these boundaries he was not always king with full authority, but as the power of Athens or the fortunes of Lacedaemon varied, now king as far as Ionia, Aeolis and the sea, and then again no longer down to Ionia and the sea, but as far as Lydia without seeing the sea west of the Cyanean Islands, being a king while he stayed upcountry just like a king in a game of children, coming down again with the consent of those who would let him be king. This the army of Agesilaus revealed, and before him that of the Ten Thousand with Clearchus, the one marching a through its own country, all the way to Phrygia, the other penetrating, as through a solitude, beyond the Euphrates.
What enjoyments they derived from their empire are illustrated in the shrewd and neat remark of Oebaras. It is said that he first told Cyrus, who was grieved at his much wandering, that if he wished to be king he ought—ay, there was necessity—to go marching around to every part of his empire, will he nill he, for he saw what happened to the leather bag: the parts on which he set foot became depressed and touched the ground, while the parts off which he stepped rose up again and were depressed once more only with another trampling. They were a kind of vagrant kings and were superior to the nomadic Scythians only in so far as they went around in carriages instead of carts,—a kind of nomadic kings and wanderers who, on account of their distrust and fear of settling in one place, crushed down their country, really like some leather bag, and, by this, now controlling now Babylon, again Susa, then Ecbatana, not understanding how to hold it all at all times nor tending it as shepherds.
In truth such were deeds of men who, as it were dared not trust that the empire was their own. They did not mind it as their own, nor did they raise either the urban or the rural areas to beauty and full size, but, like those who have laid violent hands on property not their own, they consumed it without conscience or honor, seeking to keep their subjects as weak as possible, and as if, in the feat of the five exercises, vying with each other in murders, the second ever tried to outdo the man before. It was a contest to slaughter as many people, to expel as many families and villages, break as many oaths as possible.
Those then are the enjoyments they derived from their famous power. The consequences of these enjoyments were what a law of nature ordained, hatreds and plots from those who were so used, and defections and civil wars and constant strife and ceaseless rivalries.
They themselves harvested these rewards, as if ruling as the result of a curse rather than in answer to a prayer, while the subjects received all that those who are ruled by men like that must of necessity receive, and of which some mention has already been made, more or less. A child's beauty was a terror to its parents, a wife's beauty a terror to her husband. Not he who committed the most crimes but he who acquired the most property was doomed to destruction. It could almost be said that more cities then were being destroyed and and demolished than are being founded today.
It was easier to be preserved when fighting against the Persians than when obeying them. For in battle they were easily defeated, but where they had power their insolence knew no bounds. And those who served them they despised as slaves, while those who were free they punished as enemies. Consequently they passed their lives in giving and receiving hatred. And so in war, which was their way of settling disputes in the majority of cases, they often feared their subjects more than their enemies.
Fundamentally two things were wrong. The Persians did not know how to rule and their subjects did not cooperate, since it is impossible to be good subjects if the rulers are had rulers. Government and slave-management were not yet differentiated. but king and master were equivalent terms. They certainly did not proceed in a reasonable manner and with great objectives. For the word "master" (despotes) applies properly within the circle of a private household; when it extends to cities and nations, the role is hard to keep up.
Comparison with Alexander the Great's Empire:
Again Alexander, who acquired the great empire—so it looked mill yours arose—by overrunning the earth, to tell the truth, more closely resembled one who acquired a kingdom than one who showed himself a king. For what happened to him, I think, is as if som eordinary person were to acquire much good but were to die before receiving the yield of it.
He advanced over most of the earth and reduced all who opposed him; and he had absolutely all the hardships. But he could not establish the empire nor place the crown upon the labors he had endured, but died midway in the course of his affairs. So one might say that he won very many battles but, as he did very little, and that he became a great contender for kingship, but never received any enjoyable result worthy of his genius and skill. What happened to him was much as if a man, while contending in an Olympic contest, defeated his opponents, then died immediately alter the victory before rightly adjusting the crown upon his head.
After all, what laws did he ordain for each of his peoples? Or what contributions in taxes, men, or ships did he put on a permanent basis? Or by what routine administration with automatic progress and fixed periods of time did he conduct his affairs? In civil administration what successes did he achieve among the people under his rule? He left only one real memorial of his endowment as a statesman, the city by Egypt that bears his name; he did well in founding this for you, the greatest city after yours, for you to have and to control. Thus be abolished the rule of the Persians, yet he himself all but never ruled.
Now, when he died, the empire of of the Macedonians immediately broke up into inummerable pieces, and the Macedonians showed by what they did that the rule of an empire was beyond their capabilities. They could not even hold their own country any longer, but came to that point of fortune where they were compelled to abandon their own country in order to rule over alien territory, more like men who had been deported than like men with a capacity for command. And it was a riddle: Macedonians, each reigning not in Macedon but wherever he could, who garrisoned other than governed their cities and districts, men driven from home, appointed as kings not by the great king but by themselves, and if the expression be permitted, satraps without king. With which term shall we describe a condition such as theirs, for were they not more like robber chieftains than like kings?
Praise of Rome the Empire:
Now, however, the present empire has been extended to boundaries of no mean distance, to such, in fact, that one cannot even measure the area within them. On the contrary, for one who begins a journey westward from the point where at that period the empire of the Persians found its limit, the rest is far more than the entirety of his domain, and there are no sections which you have omitted, neither city nor tribe nor harbor nor district, except possibly some that you condemned as worthless. The Red Sea and the Cataracts of the Nile and Lake Maeotis, which formerly were said to lie on the boundaries of the earth, are like the the courtyard to the house which is this city of yours. On the other hand, you have explored Ocean. Some writers did not believe that Ocean existed at all, or did not believe that it flowed around the earth; they thought that the poets had invented the name and had introduced it into literature for the sake of entertainment. But you have explored it so thoroughly that not even the island therein has escaped
Vast and comprehensive as is the size of it, your empire is much greater for its perfection than for the area which its boundaries encircle. There are no pockets of the empire held by Mysians, Sacae, Pisidians, or others, land which some have occupied by force, others have detached by revolt, who cannot be captured. Nor is it merely called the land of the King, while really the land of all who are able to hold it. Nor do satraps fight one another as if they had no king: nor are cities at variance, some fighting against these and some against those, with garrisons being dispatched to some cities and being expelled from others. But for the eternal duration of this empire the whole civilized world prays all together, emitting, like an aulos after a thorough cleaning, one note with more perfect precision than a chorus; so beautifully is it harmonized by the leader in command.
The keynote is taken by all, everywhere, in the same way. And those who have settled in the mountains are, in their avoidance of discord, lower in pride than those who dwell in the least elevated plains. while those in the rich plains, both men who have cleruchic holdings and men who have your colonial land, are engaged in agriculture. Conditions no longer differ from island to mainland, but all, as one continuous country and one people, heed quietly.
All directions are carried out by the chorus of the civilized world at a word or gesture of guidance more easily than at some plucking of a chord; and if anything need be done, it suffices to decide and it is already done.
The governors sent out to the city-states and ethnic groups are each of them rulers of those under them, but in what concerns themselves and their relations to each other they are all equally among the ruled, and in particular they differ from those under their rule in in that it is they—one might assert-who first show how to be the right kind of subject. So much respect ha been instilled in all men for him who is the great governor, who obtains for them their all.
They think that he knows what they are doing better than they do themselves. Accordingly they fear his displeasure and stand in greater awe of him than one would of a despot, a master who was present and watching and uttering commands. No one is so proud that he can fail to be moved upon hearing even the mere mention of the Ruler's name, but, rising, he praises and worships him and breathes two prayers in a single breath, one to the gods on the Ruler's behalf, one for his own affairs to the Ruler himself. And if the governors should have even some slight doubt whether certain claims are valid in connection with either public or private lawsuits and petitions from the governed, they straightway send to him with a request for instructions what to do, and they wait until he renders a a reply, like a chorus waiting for its trainer.
Therefore, he has no need to wear himself out traveling around the whole empire nor, by appearing personally, now among some, then among others, to make sure of each point when he has the time to tread their soil. It is very easy for him to stay where he is, and manage the entire civilized world by letters, which arrive almost as soon as they are written, as if they were carried by winged messengers.
But that which deserves as much wonder and admiration as all the rest together, and constant expression of gratitude both in word and action, shall now be mentioned. You who hold so vast an empire and rule it with such a firm hand and with so much unlimited power have very decidedly won a great success, which is completely your own.
For of all who have ever gained empire you alone rule over men who are free. Caria has not to Tissaphernes. nor Phrygia to Pharnabazus, nor Egypt to someone else; nor is the country said to enslaved, as household of so-and-so, to whomsoever it has been turned over, a man himself not free. But just as those in states of one city appoint the magistrates to protect and care for the governed, so you, who conduct public business in the whole civilized world exactly as if it were one city state. appoint the governors, as is natural after elections, to protect and care for the governed, not to he slave masters over them. Therefore governor makes way for governor unobtrusively, when his time is up, and far from staying too long and disputing the land with his successor. he might easily not enough even to meet him.
Appeals to a higher court are made with the ease of an appeal from deme to dicastery, with no greater menace for those who make them than for those who have accepted the local verdict. Therefore one might say that the men of today are ruled by the governors who are sent out, only in so far as they are content to be ruled.
Are not these advantages beyond the old "Free Republic" of every people? For under Government by the People it is not possible to go outside after the verdict has been given in the city's court nor even to other jurors, but, except in a city so small that it has to have jurors from out of town, one must ever be content with the local verdict, deprived undeservedly as plaintiff, not getting possession even after a favorable verdict.
But now in the last instance there is another judge, a mighty one, whose comprehension no just claim ever escapes.
There is an abundant and beautiful equality of the humble with the great and of the obscure with the illustrious, and, above all, of the poor man with the rich and of the commoner with the noble, and the word of Hesiod comes to pass, "For he easily exalts, and the exalted he easily checks," namely this judge and princeps as the justice of the claim may lead, like a breeze in the sails of a ship, favoring an accompanying, not the rich man more, the poor man less, but benefiting equally whomsoever it meets.
Comparison with Hellenic Hegemon City-States:
I shall treat also the records of the Hellenic states, since I have come to that part of my speech, but I feel shame and fear lest my argument sound too trivial. Nevertheless, treat them I shalt, but as I just said, not as comparing equal with equal. In the absence of other parallels, I am compelled to use those at hand, because in such a case it is absurd to keep asserting with enthusiasm that it is impossible to find other achievements even remotely equal to yours but that all are overshadowed by these, yet to keep waiting for a time to make comparisons when we may have equal achievements to recall. It is inappropriate, I think, because even similar achievements, if we had any to report would not be similarly astonishing.
Again I am by no means unaware that a these Hellenic records, in proud extent of territory and grand scale of operations, are still poorer than the Persian record which I just now examined. But to surpass the Hellenes in wisdom and restraint, while outdoing the Barbarians in riches and in might, seems to me a great achievement and one fulfilling the ideal and more glorious than every other.
My next subject, then, is what kind of international organizations the Hellenic states created and how they fared therewith. If it appear that they were unable to preserve much smaller organizations, obviously this will decide the issue.
The Athenians and the Lacedaemonians did all they could to get control and hegemony, and theirs was the power to sail the sea and to rule over the Cyclades and hold the Thraceward regions and Thermopylae and the Hellespont and Coryphasion. That was the extent of their power. Their experience was as if a man who wished to obtain possession of a body received some claws and extremities instead of the whole body and with these in his possession thought that he what he wanted. So they too, after striving for hegemony, brought home small islands and headlands and havens and such places, and they wore themselves out around the sea, in pursuit of an hegemony which existed more in their dreams than within their powers of acquisition.
Nevertheless, at times as if their turn had come around in the allotment, each city became chairman of the Hellenes without keeping the office even for a single, say, generation. So there was no clear supremacy, but in the struggle for hegemony they inflicted upon each other the so-called Cadmean victory. It was as if each city always demanded that the others be not the only ones to get a chance at being hated, but that they themselves might have a share.
45>For just one Lacedaemonian leader so disposed the Hellenes that they willingly got rid of the Lacedaemonians and gladly sought other rulers for themselves. After they had given themselves to the Athenians, in a little while they repented, not liking the disproportion of the tributes imposed nor those who used the tributes as a pretext for graft, and being dragged to Athens every year to render an account concerning their own local affairs, while cleruchs dispatched into their country and ships to collect extra funds beyond the tribute, if perhaps another need prevailed.
Moreover they were unable to maintain the freedom of their citadels and were in the power of the politicians whom the Athenians installed, both those with good intentions and equally those with bad. They were obliged to undertake unnecessary campaigns, often in holidays and festivals, and in brief, from the Athenian leadership they derived no benefit great enough to make it worth their while to perform these heavy services.
As a result of these conditions the majority were disgusted with the Athenians, and turning again from them to the Lacedaemonians, just as formerly from the latter to the Athenians. they were deceived again by the Lacedaemonians. The latter first proclaimed that they would fight the Athenians in behalf of the liberty of the Hellenes, and in this way they attracted many. When they had destroyed the walls of Athens and had secured control of the Greek world and could do anything, they so far outdid the Athenians that they established in all the Greek cities tyrannies, which they euphemistically called decarchies.
And destroying one arbitrary government, that of the Athenians, in its place they introduced many from themselves which incessantly harassed the governed not from a seat at Athens nor from one at Sparta but from positions permanently located in the very lands of the governed and interwoven, as it were, in the local institutions, So if, as they started the war, they had announced to the Hellenes that they would fight the Athenians in order to do them greater and more frequent injuries than the Athenians did and to make what the Hellenes had from the Athenians look like freedom, there would have been no better way to make good their promise.
And in consequence they soon gave way to one fugitive and were abandoned by the Thebans and were hated by the Corinthians; the sea was made full of their "harmonizers" who were being expelled because they were disharmonious and because, when installed as governors, they held the cities in a way which belied the very name of harmost.
From the misdoings of those men and the hatred which the Hellenes for that reason felt for the Lacedaemonians, the Thebans gathered strength and defeated the latter in the Battle of Leuctra: but as soon Lacedaemonians were out of the way, then no one could endure the Thebans, who had succeeded in one battle. On the contrary, it became dear that it was yet more to the advantage of the Hellenes that the Cadmeia (i.e., Thebes) be occupied by, than victorious over, the Lacedaemonians. Thus the Thebans now received their fate.
These examples I have collected, certainly not to denounce the Hellenes generally like the extraordinary author of the "Three-headed Creature "—may it never be so necessary—, but wishing to show thereby that the knowledge how to rule did not yet exist before your time. For if it did exist, it would be among the Hellenes, who distinguished themselves for skill, I venture to say, very greatly, at least in the other arts. But this knowledge is both a discovery of your own and to other men an importation from you.
The Fall of the Athenian Empire:
For it might well be true if one were to say about the Hellenes as a whole what has already been said in the case of the Athenians, that they were good at resisting foreign rule and defeating the Persians arid at expending their wealth in public service and enduring hardships, but were themselves still untrained to rule, and in the attempt they failed.
First they used to send into the cities garrisons which of course were not always less numerous than the able-bodied natives in the countries to which they were being sent. Secondly they aroused suspicion among those who were not yet garrisoned that they were conducting all business by force and violence. So there were two results, an insecure grip on the object of their encroachment, yet a powerful reputation for encroachment: they were failing to hold the cities securely, and besides they were earning hatred and were reaping the hardships instead of the blessings of empire.
Then, what followed? Ever widely dispersed and separated they became too weak at home and were unable to preserve their own land, through seeking to hold that of others. So neither were they able to outnumber, in the troops they sent elsewhere, those whom they strove to rule, nor was it possible to maintain an adequate defence with those they left behind for their own protection. They were too few abroad, too few at home. Without the ultimate means to hold the empire, its expansion posed for them an insoluble problem. Thus the aims which they pursued were in opposition to their needs. The success of their plans became an embarrassment, almost a curse, while the failure was less a burden for them and less terrifying. Instead of rulers they seemed no different from a fallen city's scattered remnants, toiling for the sake of toil. For as the poets say (of Sisyphus), the crowning effort would unaccountably weaken at the moment the end was readied, and back (the stone) would roll to where it had been.
It was no longer to their interest that that the governed should be either strong or weak: they did not want them strong because of possible treachery, nor weak because of the menace of wars from outside, and in order to have some advantage from the league of allies. Toward them the Athenians had come to fell much like those who, in a game of draughts, advance their pieces to one position and pull them back to another, without knowing what use they will make of them. But wishing, as they did, both to have their allies, and not to have them, the Athenians would take them in hand and move them without being able to say whither they were going in earnest.
And the strangest and most absurd thing of all: they would make the rest, who had rebellion in mind themselves, go to war against those who were rebelling. It was much as if in doing so they were asking the very rebels to take the field against their own rebellion They were unreasonably leading against the rebels men who were on the rebels' side, and to whom it was surely inexpedient to reveal the help that in serious effort could be given to the others against the Athenians.
So in this also they were accomplishing the very opposite of their wish and of their interest, because, in their desire for the recovery of those in revolt, they were causing the revolt even of those allies who were with them. For they showed them that if they remained they would be available to the Athenians for use against each other, but that leagued together in revolt, they would all be securely free, because at the end the Athenians would have none left through whom the rebels might be taken. Therefore, they did themselves more harm than their faithless allies did, in that the latter seceded individually, while they themselves introduced a universal defection as a result of their activity.
Thus in that period there was still no orderly system of imperial rule and they did not go after it with knowledge of what an orderly system was. Although their holdings were small and, as it were, marginal lands and military allotments, nevertheless they were unable to retain even these because of their own inexperience and weakness. For they did not lead the cities with kindness nor did they have the power to hold them firmly, being simultaneously oppressive and weak. So at last they were stripped of their plumage like Aesop's jackdaw, and were fighting alone against all.
Well, this which, in a word, escaped all previous men was reserved for you alone to discover and perfect. And no wonder! Just as in other spheres the skills come to the fore when the material is there, so when a great empire of surpassing power arose, the skill too accumulated and entered into its composition, and both were mutually reinforced. On account of the size of the empire the experience necessarily accrued, while on account of the knowledge how to rule with justice and with reason the empire flourished.
But there is that which very decidedly deserves as much attention and admiration now as all the rest together. I mean your magnificent citizenship with its grand conception, because there is nothing like it in the records of all mankind. Dividing into two groups all those in your empire—and with this word I have indicated the entire civilized world—you have everywhere appointed to your citizenship, or even to kinship with you, the better part of the world's talent, courage, and leadership, while the rest you recognized as a league under your hegemony.
Neither sea nor intervening continent are bars to citizenship, nor are Asia and Europe divided in their treatment here. In your empire all paths are open to all. No one worthy of rule or trust remains an alien, but a civil community of the World has been established as a Free Republic under one, the best, ruler and teacher of order; and all come together as into a common civic center, in order to receive each man his due.
What another city is to its own boundaries and territory, this city is to the boundaries and territory of the entire civilized world, as if the latter were were a country district and she had been appointed common town. It might be said that this one citadel is the refuge and assembly place of all perioeci or of all who dwell in outside demes.
She has never failed them, but like the soil of the earth, she supports all men; and as the sea, which receives with its gulfs all the many rivers, hides them and holds them all and still, with what goes in and out, is and seems ever the same, so actually this city receives those who flow in from all the earth and has even sameness in common with the sea. The latter is not made greater by the influx of rivers, for it has been ordained by fate that with the waters flowing in, the maintains its volume; here no change is visible because the city is so great.
Let this passing comment, which the subject suggested, suffice. As we were saying, you who are "great greatly" distributed your citizenship. It was not because you stood off and refused to give a share in it to any of the others that you made your citizenship an object of wonder. On the contrary, you sought its expansion as a worthy aim, and you have caused the word "Roman" to be the label, not of membership in a city, but of some common nationality, and this not just one among all, but one balancing all the rest. For the categories into which you now divide the world are not Hellenes and Barbarians, and it is not absurd, the distinction which you made, because you show them a citizenry more numerous, so to speak. than the entire Hellenic race. The division which you substituted is one into Romans and non-Romans, to such a degree have you expanded the name of your city.
Since these are the lines along which the distinction has been made, many in every city are fellow-citizens of yours no less than of their kinsmen, though some of them have not yet seen this city. There is no need of garrisons to hold their citadels, but the men of greatest standing and influence in every city guard their own fatherlands for you. And you have a double hold upon the cities, both from here and from your fellow citizens in each.
No envy sets foot in the empire, for you yourselves were the first to disown envy, when you placed all opportunities in view of all and offered those who were able a chance to be not governed more than they governed in turn. Nor does hatred either steal in from those who are not chosen. For since the constitution is a universal one and, as it were, of one state, naturally your governors rule not as over the property of others but as over their own. Besides, all the masses have as a share in it the permission to take refuge with you from the power of the local magnates, but there is the indignation and punishment from you which will come upon them immediately, if they themselves dare to make make any unlawful charge.
Thus the present regime naturally suits and serves both rich and poor. No other way of life is left. There has developed in your constitution a single harmonious, all-embracing union; and what formerly seemed to be impossible has come to pass in your time: maintenance of control over an empire, over a vast one at that. and at the same time firmness of rule without unkindness.
Thus the cities can be clear of garrisons. Mere detachments of horse and foot suffice for the protection of whole countries, and even these are not concentrated in the cities with billets in>every household, but are dispersed throughout the rural area within bounds and orbits of their own. Hence many nations do not know where at any time their guardians are. But if anywhere a city through excess of growth had passed beyond the ability to maintain order by itself, you did not begrudge to these in their turn the men to stand by and guard
It is not safe for those to rule who have not power. The second best way to sail, they say, is to be governed by one's betters, but by you now it has been shown to be actually the first best way. Accordingly, all are held fast and would not ask to secede any more than those at sea from the helmsman, As bats in caves cling fast to each other and to the rocks, so all from you depend with much concern not to fall from this cluster of cities, and would sooner conceive fear of being abandoned by you, than abandon you themselves. And as a result all send their tribute to you with more pleasure than some would actually receive it from others: they have good reason.
They no longer dispute over the right to rule and to have first honors, which caused the outbreak of all the wars of the past. Instead, the rulers of yore do not even recall with certainty what domain they once had, while the others, like water in silent flow, are most delightfully at rest, They have gladly ceased from toil and trouble, for they have come to realize that in the other rcase they were fighting vainly over shadows. As in the myth of a Pamphylian, or if not so, then Plato's myth, the cities, already bring laid. as it were, upon the funeral pyre by their mutual strife and disorder, merely received the right leadership all at once and suddenly revived. How they reached this point they have no explanation and can only wonder at the present. They have come to feel like men aroused from sleep: instead dreams they but recently had, they awakened to the sudden vision and presence of these genuine blessings.
Wars, even if they once occurred, no longer seem to have been real; on the contrary, stories about them are interpreted more as myths by the many who hear them. If anywhere an actual clash occurs along the border, as is only natural in the immensity of a great empire, because of the madness of Getae or misfortune of Libyans or the wickedness of those around the Red Sea, who are unable to enjoy the blessings they have, then simply like myths they themselves quickly pass and the stories about them. So great is your peace, though war was traditional among you.
The Roman Army:
In regard to the civil administration of the whole empire it has been stated in what way you thought of it and what kind you established. Now it is time to speak about the army and military affairs, how you contrived in this matter and what organization you gave it. Yes, for the shoemakers and masons of yesterday are not the hoplites and cavalry of today. On the stage a farmer appears as a soldier after a quick change of costume, and in poor homes the same person cooks the meal, keeps the house, makes the bed. But you are not so undiscriminating. You did not expect that those engaged in other occupations would be made into soldiers by the need, nor did you leave it to your enemies to call you together. Rather in this too it is amazing how wise you were, and there is no precedent to serve as a parallel all the way.
For the Egyptians also progressed to the point of segregating the military, and it was deemed a very clever invention of theirs to have those who defended their country settled in special areas away from the rest. As in so many other respects, when compared others they were, it seemed, "clever Egyptians," as the saying goes. But when you visualized the same thing, you did not execute it in the same way. Instead you made a more equitable and more skillful segregation. In the former system it was not possible for each of the two groups to have equality of citizenship; the soldiers, who alone and forever bore the hardships. were in an inferior status to those who did not fight. Therefore the system was neither fair. nor agreeable to them. With you, on the other hand, since all have equality, a separate establishment for the military is successful.
Thus a courage like that of Hellenes and Egyptians and any others one might mention is surpassed by yours, and all, far as they are behind you in actual arms, trail until further in the conception. On the one hand you deemed it unworthy of your rule for those from this city to he subject to the levy and to the hardships and to enjoy no advantage from the present felicity; on th eother hand you did not put your faith in alien mercenaries. Still you needed soldiers before the hour of crisis, So what did you do? You found an army of your own for which the citizens were undisturbed. This possibility was provided for you by that plan for all the empire, according to which you count no one an alien when you accept him for any employment where he can do well and is then needed.
Who then have been assembled and how long? Going over the entire league, you looked about carefully for those who would perform this liturgy, and when you found them, you released them from the fatherland and gave them your own city. so that they became reluctant henceforth to call themselves by their original ethnics. Having made them fellow-citizens, you made them also soldiers, so that the men from this city would not be subject to the levy, and those performing military service would none the less be citizens, who together with their enrollment in the army had lost their own cities but from that very day had become your fellow-citizens and defenders.
Under your hegemony this is the contribution which all make to the armed forces, and no city is disaffected. You asked from each only as many as would cause no inconvenience to the givers and would not be enough by themselves to provide the individual city with a full quota of an army of its own, Therefore all cities are well pleased with the dispatch of these men to be their own representatives in the union army, while locally each city has no militia of its own men whatsoever, and for military protection they look nowhere but to you, because it is for this sole purpose that those who went out from the cities have been marshaled in good order.
And again, after you selected from everywhere the most competent men, you had a very profitable idea. It was this. You thought that when even those picked out for their excellent physiques and bodily superiority train for the festivals and the prize contests, then those who would be the contenders in the greatest engagements of real war, and victors in as many victories as one might chance to win in behalf of such an empire ought not to come together merely in a crisis. You thought that the latter, selected from all as the strongest and, especially, most competent, ought to train for a long while ahead of time so as to be superior the minute they took their stand.
So these men, once you eliminated the morally and the socially base, you introduced into the community of the ruling nation, not without the privileges I mentioned nor in such a way that they would envy those who stay in the city because they themselves were not of equal rights at the start, but in such a way that they would consider their share of citizenship as an honor. Having found and treated them thus, you led them to the boundaries of the empire. There you stationed them at intervals, and you assigned areas to guard, some to some, others to others.
They account also for the plan which you devised and evolved in retard to the walls, which is worth comment now, One would call this city unwalled in the reckless manner of the Lacedaemonians nor again fortified with the splendor of Babylon or of any other city which before or after may have been walled in a more impressive style. On the contrary, you have made the fortification of Babylon seem frivolity and a woman's work indeed.
To place the walls around the city itself as if you were hiding her or fleeing from your subjects you considered ignoble and inconsistent with the rest of your concept, as if a master were to show fear of his own slaves. Nevertheless, you did not forget walls, but these you placed around the empire, not the city. And you erected walls splendid and worthy of you as far away as possible, visible to those within the circuit, but, for one starting from the city, an outward journey of months and years if he wished to see them.
Beyond the outermost ring of the civilized world, you drew a second line, quite as one does in walling a town, another circle, more widely curved and more easily guarded. Here you built the walls to defend youand then erected towns bordering upon them, some in some parts, others elsewhere, filling them with colonists, giving these the comfort of arts and crafts, and in general establishing beautiful order.
An encamped army like a rampart encloses the civilized world in a ring. The perimeter of this enclosure, if a survey were made, would not be ten parasangs, nor twenty, nor a little more, nor a distance one could say offhand, but as far as from the settled area of Aethiopia to the Phasis and from the Euphrates in the interior to the great outermost island toward the West; all this one can call a ring and circuit of of the walls.
They have not been built with asphalt or baked brick nor do they stand there gleaming with stucco. Oh, but these ordinary works too exist at their individual places—yes, in very great number, and, as Homer says of the palace wall, "fitted dose and accurately with stones, and boundless in size and gleaming more brilliantly than bronze".
But the ring, much greater and more impressive, in every way altogether unbreachable and indestructible, outshines them all, and in all time there has not been a wall so firm. For it is a barrier of men who have never acquired the habit of flight. It is they who defend these ordinary walls. They have perfected in the employment of all the tools of war exercises which bind them to one another in that union of the Myrmidons which Homer in the passage cited compared to the wall: a formation of helmets so close that an arrow cannot pass; a platform of shields raised overhead which would support in mid-air racetracks so much firmer than those constructible in town that even horsemen could race upon them, "a bronze plain," as one will then truthfully clam to see, for it is this in particular which deserves of Euripides; a line of breastplates so clinging to one another that if one ordered the man between two others to take his place with only light arms, the shields on either side would come half way and meet to cover him; and a shower of javelins, as it were, falling from heaven in a solid mass. Such are the the parallel harmonies or systems of defence which curve around you, that circle of the fortifications at individual points, and that ring of those who keep watch over the whole world.
Once long ago Darius, with Artaphernes and Datis, succeeded in destroying one city on one island by dragging a net over its territory to catch the citizens. In a manner of speaking you too used a net; you dragged it over the whole civilized world. But having done so, you now preserve all the cities by means of the very citizens you caught, the strangers whom they share with you. When you selected them, as I said, from all, you led them out, providing the men who showed quality with expectations that they would have no regret. The man who at any time might hold the first rank would not be from the nobility, and the man of second rank would not be from the second class and so on throughout the the rest of the order. Each man would hold the post that was due in the sense that not words but deeds would here distinguish the men of quality. And of these things you gave illustrious examples. Consequently they all think unemployment a disaster and think that engagements are occasions for the fulfillment of their prayers, and against the enemy they are of one mind but in relation to each other they art perpetual rivals for preference, and they alone of mankind pray to meet with enemies.
Accordingly, upon seeing the training and organization of the military, one will think that the opponents in the words of Homer, "were they ten or twenty times as many," would soon be completely routed and in single combats overcome. And one who looks into the system of recruitment and replacement will express and feel what the king of Egypt meant when Camhyses was plundering the country and pillaging the sanctuaries. Standing upon the walls of Thebes, the Egyptian held out to him a clod of earth and a up of water from the Nile; therewith he signified that as long as Cambyses was unable to carry away Egypt itself with the river Nile and to drag it oft as plunder, he had not yet received the wealth of the Egyptians, but while revere and land remained the Egyptians would soon have just as much again and the wealth of Egypt would never run out. So also concerning your military system one is justified in thinking and stating that as long as none can move the land itself from its foundation and leave the land itself a vacuum on departure, as long as the civilized world must remain in place, there is no way to make the wealth in your multitude of soldiers run out, for you have as many as you want arriving from all the civilized world.
In respect to military science, furthermore, you have made all men look like children. For you did not prescribe exercises for soldiers and officers to victory over the enemy only, but for victory over themselves first. Therefore, every day the soldier lives in discipline and no one ever leaves the post assigned to him, hut as in some permanent chorus he knows and keeps his position and the subordinate does not on that account envy him who has a higher rank, but he himself rules with precision those whose superior he his.
It seems a pity that others have already said it first about the Lacedaemonians that, but for a few, their army consisted in commanders of commanders. It was a proper phrase to have been kept for you and to have been applied to your case first, whereas the right occasion had not yet come when the author brought it forth. However. the Lacedaemonian army may well have been so small that there was nothing incredible in even all of them being commanders, But merely to name the branches and nationalities of your armed forces would not be easy. In these many units your soldiers, beginning with one who examines everything and looks after all—nations, cities, armies, are themselves leaders, through all the intermediate grades I could not mention, down to one in command of four or even two men. Like a spinning of thread which is continuously drawn from many filaments into fewer and fewer strands, the many individuals of your rovers are always drawn together into fewer and fewer formations; and so they reach their complete integration through those who are at each point placed in command, one over others, each of these over others still, and so on. Does this not rise above Man's power of organization?
The Roman Mixed Constitution:
An impulse comes over me to change the Homeric line a little at the end and say, "Such within, I ween, is of Olympian Zeus the" empire. For when one ruler rules so many, and when his agents and envoys, much inferior to him but much superior to those over whom they watch, perform all commands quietly without noise and confusion, and envy is absent, and all actions everywhere are full of justice and respect, and the reward of virtue escapes no one, does not this epic tone seem right, this version of the line?
It appears to me that in this state you have established a constitution not at all like any of those among the rest of mankind. Formerly there seemed to be three constitutions in human society. Two were tyranny and oligarchy, or kingship and aristocracy, since they were known under two names each according to the view one took in interpreting the character of the men in control. A third category was known as democracy whether the leadership was good or bad. The cities had received one or the other constitution as choice or chance prevailed for each. Your state, on the other hand, is quite dissimilar; it is such a form of government as if it were a mixture of all the constitutions without the bad aspects of any one. That is why precisely this form of constitution has prevailed. So when one looks at the strength of the People and sees how easily they get all that they want and ask, he will deem it a complete democracy except for the faults of democracy. When he looks at the Senate sitting as a council and keeping the magistracies, he will think that there is no aristocracy more perfect than this. When he looks at the Ephor and Prytanis. who presides over all of these, him from whom it is possible for the People to get what they want and for the Few to have the magistracies and power, he will see in this one, the One who holds the most perfect monarchic rule, One without a share in the vices of a a tyrant and One elevated above even kingly dignity.
It is not strange that you alone made these distinctions and discoveries how to govern both in the world and in the city itself. For you alone are rulers, so to speak, according to nature. Those others, who preceded you established an arbitrary, tyrannical rule. They became masters and slaves of each other in turn, and as rulers they were a spurious crew. They succeeded each other as if advancing to the position in a ball game. Macedonians had a period of enslavement to Persians, Persians to Medes, Medes to Assyrians, but as long as men have known you, all have known you as rulers. Since you were free right from the start and had begun the game as it were in the rulers' position, you equipped yourselves with all that was helpful for the position of rulers, and you invented a constitution such as no one ever had before, and for all things fixed rules and fixed periods.
Roman Civilization and Concord:
I should not perhaps be bringing it up at the wrong moment if I now expressed a thought which for a long time has occurred to me, and, rising to my very lips, has often forced itself upon me, but so s far always been pushed aside by the argument. How far you surpass all in total extent of your empire and in firmness of grip and plan of civil administration forth in what has already been said: but now, it seems to me that one would not miss the mark if he said the following: all those of the past who ruled over a very large part of the earth ruled, as it were, naked bodies by themselves, mere persons composing the ethnic groups or nations.
For when were there so many cities both inland and on the coast, or when have they been so beautifully equipped with everything? Did ever a man of those who lived then travel across country as we do, counting the cities by days and by days on the same day through two or three cities as if passing through sections of merely one? Hence the the inferiority of those who lived in former times appears, because the past is so much surpassed, not only in the element element at the head of the empire, but also in cases where identical groups have been ruled by others and by you. Those whom the others ruled did not as individuals have the equality of civil rights and privileges, but against the primitive organization of an ethnic group in that time one can set the municipal organization of group's city of today. It might very well be said that while the others have been kings, as it were, of open country and strongholds. you atone are rulers of civilized communities.
Now all the Greek cities rise up under your leadership, and the monuments which are dedicated in them and all their embellishments and comforts redound to your honor like beautiful suburbs. The coasts and interiors have been filled with cities, some newly founded, others increased under and by you.
Ionia, the much contested, freed of garrisons and of satraps, is visible to all, first in beauty. She has now advanced beyond herself by as much as she formerly seemed to surpass the other lands in elegance and grace. Alexander's great and noble city by Egypt has become a glory of your hegemony, like a necklace or armlet among a wealthy lady's other possessions.
Taking good care of the Hellenes as of your foster parents. you constantly hold your hand over them, and when they are prostrate, you raise them up. You release free and autonomous those of them who were the noblest and the leaders of yore, and you guide the others moderately with much consideration and forethought. The barbarians you educate, rather mildly or sternly according to the nature that each has, because it is right that those who are rulers of men be not inferior to those who are trainers of horses. and that they have tested their natures and guide them accordingly.
As on holiday the whole civilized world lays down the arms which were its ancient burden and has turned to adornment and all glad thoughts with power to realize them. All the other rivalries have left the cities, and this one contention holds them all, how each city may appear most beautiful and attractive. All localities are full of gymnasia, fountains, monumental approaches, temples, workshops, schools, and one can say that the civilized world, which had been sick from the beginning, as it were, has been brought by the right knowledge to a state of health. Gifts never cease from you to the cities, and it is not possible to determine who the major beneficiaries have been, because kindness is the same to all.
Cities gleam with radiance and charm, and the whole earth has been beautified like a garden. Smoke rising from plains and fire signals for friend and foe have disappeared, as if a breath had blown them away, beyond land and sea. Every charming spectacle and an infinite number of festal games have been introduced instead. Thus like an ever-burning sacred fire the celebration never ends, but moves around from time to time and people to people, always somewhere, a demonstration justified by the way all men have fared. Thus it is right to pity only those outside your hegemony, if indeed there are any, because they lose such blessings.
It is you again who have best proved the general assertion, that Earth is mother of all and common fatherland. Now indeed it is possible for Hellene or non-Hellene, with or without his property, to travel wherever he will, easily. just as if passing from fatherland to fatherland. Neither Cilician Gates nor narrow sandy approaches to Egypt through Arab country. nor inaccessible mountains, nor immense stretches of river, nor inhospitable tribes of barbarians cause terror, but for security it suffices to be a Roman citizen, or rather to be one of those united under your hegemony.
Homer said, "Earth common of all," and you have made it come true. You have measured and recorded the land of the entire civilized world; you have spanned the rivers with all kinds of bridges and hewn highways through the mountains and filled the barren stretches with posting stations; you have accustomed all areas to a settled and orderly way of life. Therefore, I see on reflection that what is held to be the life before Triptolenms is really the life before your time,—a hard and boorish life, not far removed from that of the wild mountains. Though the citizens of Athens began the civilized life of today, this life in its turn has been firmly established by you, who came later but who, men say, are better.
There is no need whatsoever now to write a book of travels and to enumerate the laws which each country uses. Rather you yourselves have become universal guides for all; you threw wide all the gates of the civilized world and gave those who so wished the opportunity to see for themselves; you assigned common laws for all and you put an end to the which were amusing to describe but which, if one looked at them from the standpoint of reason, were intolerable; you made it possible to marry anywhere, and organized all the civilized world, as it were. into one family.
Before the rule of Zeus, as the poets say, the universe was full of strife, confusion and disorder, and when Zeus came to the rule he settled everything, and the Titans, forced back by Zeus and the gods who supported him departed to the lowest caverns of the earth. Thus one who reflects about the world before your time and about the condition of affairs in your period would come to the opinion that before your empire there had been confusion everywhere and things were taking a random course, but when you assumed the presidency, confusion and strife ceased, and universal order entered as a brilliant light over the private and public affairs of man, laws appeared and altars of gods received man's confidence.
For formerly they used to lay waste the world as if (like Cronos) they were mutilating their parents, and though they did not swallow their children (like Cronos), they destroyed each other's children and their own in their strife even at sanctuaries. But now a clear and universal freedom from all fear has been granted both to the world and to those who live in it. And it seems to me that they are wholly rid of evil treatment and have accepted the many incentives toward following good leadership, while the gods, beholding, seem to lend a friendly hand to your empire in its achievement and to confirm to you its possession—Zeus, because you tend for him nobly his noble creation, the civilized world; Hera, who is honored because of marriage rites properly performed; Athena and Hephaestus because of the esteem in which the crafts are held; Dionysius and Demeter, because their crops are not outraged; Poseidon because the sea has been cleansed for him of naval battles and has received merchant vessels instead of triremes. The chorus of Apollo, Artemis and the Muses never ceases to behold its servants in the theaters; for Hermes there are both international games and embassies. And when did Aphrodite ever have a better chance to plant the seed and enhance the beauty of the offspring, or when did the cities ever have a greater share in her blessings? It is now that the gracious favors of Asclepius and the Egyptian gods have been most generously bestowed upon mankind. Ares certainly has never been slighted by you. There is no fear that he will cause a general disturbance as when overlooked at the banquet of the Lapiths. On the contrary, he dances the ceaseless dance along the banks of the outermost rivers and keeps the weapons clean of blood. The all-seeing Helius, moreover, casting his light, saw no violence or injustice in your case and marked the absence of woes such as were frequent in former times. Accordingly, there is good reason why he looks and shines with most delight upon your empire.
Just as Homer did not fail to realize that your empire was to be, but foresaw it and made a prophecy of it in his epic, so Hesiod, were he as complete a poet and as prophetic, would not, I think, in listing the Generations of Men have begun with the Golden Race as he actually does. And having once made this beginning, he would not at least, in treating of the last, the Iron Race, have named as the time for its ruin to occur the hour "when those born with hoary temples being," but rather when your protectorate and empire come. That is the hour he would have named for the Iron tribe to perish on the earth. To Justice and Respect in that period he would have assigned a return amongst men. And he would have pitied those born before your time.
Your ways and institutions, which were really introduced by you, are ever held in honor and have become ever more firmly established. The present great governor like a champion in the games clearly excels to such an extent his own ancestors that it is not easy to declare by how much he excels men of a different stock. One would say that justice and law are in truth whatever he decrees. This too one can see clearly before all else, that the partners whom he has to help him rule, men like sons of his own, similar unto him, are more than had any of his predecessors.
But the trial which we undertook at the beginning of our speech is beyond any man's power, namely to compose the oration which would equal the majesty of your empire, for it would require just about as much time as time allotted to the empire, and that would be all eternity. Therefore it is best to do like those poets who compose dithyrambs and paeans, namely to add a prayer and so close the oration.
Let all the gods and the children of the gods be invoked to grant that this empire and this city flourish forever and never cease until stones float upon the sea and trees cease to put forth shoots in spring, and that the great governor and his sons be preserved and obtain blessings for all.
My bold attempt is finished. Now is the time to register your decision whether for better or for worse.