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tre. Nay, the knights, the noblemen, and even senators themselves, at last, were not ashamed to assume this profession ; so than an edict of Augustus was necessary to prevent senators from becoming gladiators. Nor was this all. Roman ladies, and even those of high rank, became, by attending these exhibitions, so lost to all that tenderness and timidity, which are supposed to characterize the sex, as to assume the habit and weapons of combatants, and contest with men, on the ensanguined arena.
This has been animadverted upon by Juvenal, with his appropriate severity. By Cicero, however, these entertainments were thought scarce worthy of reprehension. Crudele gladiatorum spectaulum et inhumanum nonnullis videri solet: et haud scio an ita sit, ut nunc fit. “ To some, this public show of gladiators, appears cruel and inhuman. Perhaps, as the thing is now managed, it may be so.”
That such an author should have spoken in such terms, of an institution, calculated to deaden the best sensibilities of the heart, and to substitute in their place a brutal ferocity, shows at once the imperious influence of custom, and the inadequacy of gentile philosophy, even in the most elevated minds, to fix the standard of morality.
V. It is well known, that under the Roman government, extreme severity might be exercised towards insolvent debtors.
From the account contained in the second book of Livy, it appears, that the creditor had power, not only of taking from the debtor all his possessions, but likewise of maiming and torturing his body.
Restraints, were, indeed, at a late period, imposed on the cruelty and rapacity of usurers, whereby it was provided, that no debtors should be kept in irons or bonds; but that the goods of the debtor, not his person, should be given up to his creditors.
After a certain number of citations, we are told, that the law granted to the debtor thirty days of grace to raise the sum, for which he was accountable. After the thirty days had expired, if the debtor had not discharged the debt, he was led to the prætor, who delivered him over to the mercy of his creditors. These hound him and kept him in chains for the space of sixty days. Afterwards, for three market days succesively, the debtor was brought to the tribunal of the pretor. Then a public crier proclaimed in the forum the debt, for which the prisoner was detained. It often happened, that rich persons redeemed the prisoner by paying his debts. But if no person appeared in his behalf, after the third day, the creditor had a right to inflict the punishment, appointed by the law. The law may be translated into the following words. “Let him on the third market day, be punished with death, or sold beyond the Tiber, as a slave.”
VI. It will give some further knowledge of the moral state of the ancient heathen, to consider their treatment of slaves. That a large proportion of the population consisted of slaves, is well known. Throughout almost all Greece, says the Abbe Barthelemy, quoting from Athenæus, the number of slaves infinitely exceeds that of citizens. A similar, but more definite account is given by Mitford. (Trav. of Ana. 1 242. Vide Tacit.
Vide Tacit. p. 425—6.) In Lacedæmon, slaves were treated with great severity. Nothing, it appears, could exceed their cruelty to their slaves, who cultivated their grounds for them, and performed all their works and manufactures. These slaves had no justice done them, says Dr. Leland, whatever insults or injuries they suffered. Among the Spartan youth, it was customary, not only to hunt wild beasts, but to lie in abush for the Helots, or slaves. Thus were these unhappy men, to whom the State was so much indebted, attacked and slain, for the purpose of rendering their masters' sons adroit in the use of arms.
There is another passage in the Lacedæmonian history, which clearly shows how much reason the Helots had to complain, not only of the cruelty, but also of the perfidy of their masters.
When, in the midst of the Peloponesian war, the Spartans had cause to entertain fears of the Helots, proclamation was made, that such as thought themselves worthy of meriting by good conduct in arms, the honor of freemen, should present themselves before the magistrate. Two thousand presented themselves, and were all secretly slain! (Mitford 1. 292. Thucyd. 1. 360.)
Herodotus informs us, that the Scythians, praised as they have been for their innocence, put out the eyes of their slaves.
Nor does it appear, that slavery at Rome assumed a milder aspect than that at Sparta. It was not unusual, we are informed, for masters to put their old, sick, and infirm slaves, on an island in the Tyber, where they were suffered to per ish. (Lel. 11. 67.) Masters had an absolute power over their slaves. (Juv. vi. 219.) They might scourge, or put them to death at pleasure. (See Herod. iii. 53. and Potter's Ant. art. Helots) When the former of these punishments was inflicted, the slave was suspended with a weight tied to his feet, that he might not move them.
When they were punished capitally, it was commonly by crucifixion.
Even this dreadful punishment according to Juvenal, might result from caprice, or a sudden gust of passion in a profligate mistress.
The following account I find quoted by three respectable authors. Vedius Pollio, an intimate friend of Augustus, literally fed his fishes with the flesh of his slaves. “ This cruelty was discovered, when one of his servants broke a glass in the presence of the emperor, who had been invited to a feast. The master ordered the servant to be seized. But he threw himself at the feet of the emperor, begging him to interpose, and not suffer him to be devoured by fishes. Upon this, the causes of his apprehensions were examined; and Augustus, astonished at the barbarity of his favorite, caused the servant to be dismissed, all the fish ponds to be filled up, and the chrystal glasses of Pollio to be broken to pieces."
Here, you will observe, that this horrible punishment was to have been inflicted for no greater crime, than the casual breaking of a piece of furniture:- That this Vedius Pollio lived in the Augustan age, when Roman literature and refinement were carried to the greatest perfections : And that though the emperor ordered that his fish should be destroy. ed, and his glasses broken, the favorite received no other punishment.
We may form some opinion of the extent of human sufferings, occasioned by slavery in the Roman Empire, if, in addition to these facts, we consider, that a single individual, seven years before the christian æra, had slaves to the number of four thousand one hundred and sixteen; and that if any one of these made an unsuccessful attempt to regain his liberty, he was marked on the forehead, with a red hot iron,
In another lecture, by divine permission, the subject will be resumed; and further proof will be exhibited of the moral degradation of the heathen, whether of ancient or moda ern times.
In this lecture, the subject of the last, will be further pursued. Additional evidence will be exhibited, of the corrupt state of morals, prevailing among pagans, whether of ancient or modern times. And,
I. We notice the crime of unchastity.
After what has been already said on the moral character of heathen divinities, and on the nature of those rites, which were observed in their worship, much evidence will not be required to convince you, that chastity, as inculcated by christianity, and by every rational system of moral philosophy, made no very conspicuous figure in the pagan character. For this reason, as well as for others, not less obvious, you will neitheç expect nor desire, that a long series of proofs should be adduced.
That both the Greeks and Romans suffered to pass without censure, and openly tolerated those connexions, which christianity pronounces criminal, and for which, it declares, that the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience, is well known. That, which was allowed by such philosophic statesman, as Solon and Cato, would not be likely to be scrupled by an ignorant, unbridled populace.
Alluding to licentious intercourse among persons, who had not acknowledged the sacredness of hymenial obligations, Cicero in his oration for Cælius, makes the following extraor