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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 1211 Compare Niebuhr


of their more enlightened neighbors. [1211] A wise Ephesian was driven by envy from his native country: before he could reach the shores of Latium, he had observed the various forms of human nature and civil society: he imparted his knowledge to the legislators of Rome, and a statue was erected in the forum to the perpetual memory of Hermodorus. [13] The names and divisions of the copper money, the sole coin of the infant state, were of Dorian origin: [14] the harvests of Campania and Sicily relieved the wants of a people whose agriculture was often interrupted by war and faction; and since the trade was established, [15] the deputies who sailed from the Tyber might return from the same harbors with a more precious cargo of political wisdom. The colonies of Great Greece had transported and improved the arts of their mother country. Cumae and Rhegium, Crotona and Tarentum, Agrigentum and Syracuse, were in the rank of the most flourishing cities. The disciples of Pythagoras applied philosophy to the use of government; the unwritten laws of Charondas accepted the aid of poetry and music, [16] and Zaleucus framed the republic of the Locrians, which stood without alteration above two hundred years. [17] From a similar motive of national pride, both Livy and Dionysius are willing to believe, that the deputies of Rome visited Athens under the wise and splendid administration of Pericles; and the laws of Solon were transfused into the twelve tables. If such an embassy had indeed been received from the Barbarians of Hesperia, the Roman name would have been familiar to the Greeks before the reign of Alexander; [18] and the faintest evidence would have been explored and celebrated by the curiosity of succeeding times. But the Athenian monuments are silent; nor will it seem credible that the patricians should undertake a long and perilous navigation to copy the purest model of democracy. In the comparison of the tables of Solon with those of the Decemvirs, some casual resemblance may be found; some rules which nature and reason have revealed to every society; some proofs of a common descent from Egypt or Phoenicia. [19] But in all the great lines of public and private jurisprudence, the legislators of Rome and Athens appear to be strangers or adverse at each other.

[Footnote 11: Compare Livy (l. iii. c. 31--59) with Dionysius Halicarnassensis, (l. x. p. 644--xi. p. 691.) How concise and animated is the Roman--how prolix and lifeless the Greek! Yet he has admirably judged the masters, and defined the rules, of historical composition.]

[Footnote 12: From the historians, Heineccius (Hist. J. R. l. i. No. 26) maintains that the twelve tables were of brass--aereas; in the text of Pomponius we read eboreas; for which Scaliger has substituted roboreas, (Bynkershoek, p. 286.) Wood, brass, and ivory, might be successively employed. Note: Compare Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 349, &c.--M.]

[Footnote 1211: Compare Niebuhr, 355, note 720.--M. It is a most important question whether the twelve tables in fact include laws imported from Greece. The negative opinion maintained by our author, is now almost universally adopted, particularly by Mm. Niebuhr, Hugo, and others. See my Institutiones Juris Romani privati Leodii, 1819, p. 311, 312.--W. Dr. Arnold, p. 255, seems to incline to the opposite opinion. Compare some just and sensible observations in the Appendix to Mr. Travers Twiss's Epitome of Niebuhr, p. 347, Oxford, 1836.--M.]


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