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A History of Rome to 565 A. D. by Boak

The second the development of the law by the jurists


The demands of public life in Rome had already created a native oratory. A speech delivered by Appius Claudius in 279 B. C. had been written down and published, as were several funeral orations from the close of the third century. But it was Cato who first published a collection of his speeches, about one hundred and fifty in number, which enjoyed a great reputation. A new impulse to this branch of literature was given by the introduction of the systematic study of rhetoric under the influence of Greek orators and teachers.

*Juristic writings.* In the field of jurisprudence the Romans at this period, were but little subject to Greek influences. The codification of the law in the fifth century B. C. had been followed by the introduction of new principles and forms of action, chiefly through the praetor's edict. The necessity arose of harmonizing the old law and the new, and of systematizing the various forms of legal procedure. Roman juristic literature begins with Sextus Aelius Paetus (consul in 198 B. C.), surnamed Catus "the shrewd," who compiled a work which later generations regarded as "the cradle of the law." It was in three parts; the first contained an interpretation of the XII Tables, the second the development of the law by the jurists, and the third new methods of legal procedure. A knowledge of the law had always been highly esteemed at Rome and the position of a jurist consult, that is, one who was consulted on difficult legal problems,

was one of especial honor. Consequently the study of the law, together with that of oratory, formed the regular preparation for the Roman who aimed at a public career.

*Religion.* Greek religion, like Greek literature, had attained a more advanced stage than that of Rome, and possessed a rich mythology when the Romans had barely begun to ascribe distinct personalities to their gods. Hence there came about a ready identification between Greek and Roman divinities to whom similar powers were ascribed and the wholesale adoption of Greek mythological lore. By the close of the third century B. C. there was formally recognized in Rome a group of twelve greater divinities who were identical with the twelve Olympic gods of Greece. There ensued also a rapid neglect of the minor Latin divinities whose place was taken by those of Greek origin. The old impersonal Roman deities had given place to anthropomorphic Hellenic conceptions. This is reflected in the acceptance of Greek types for the plastic representations of the gods, a strong demand for which arose with the acquaintance of the works of art carried off from Syracuse and other Greek cities. An important factor in this hellenization of the Roman religion was the influence of the Sibylline Books, a collection of Greek oracles imported from Cumae in the days of the Roman kings and consulted in times of national danger.

*The decree of the Senate against Bacchanalian societies: 186 B. C.* But Greek influence in the sphere of religion went deeper than the identification of Greek and Roman divinities, for the emotional cult of Bacchus with its mystic ceremonies and doctrines made its way into Italy where religious associations for its celebration were formed even in Rome itself. The demoralizing effects of this worship called forth a senatorial investigation which resulted, as we have seen, in the suppression of these associations. A similar action was taken with regard to the Chaldean astrologers, banished from Italy in 139 B. C.

*The worship of the Great Mother.* Of a different character was the cult of the Great Mother officially introduced into Rome in the year 204 B. C. This was in essence a native nature worship of Asia Minor, disguised with a veneer of Hellenism. It was the first of the so-called Oriental cults to obtain a footing in the Roman world.

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