7 OCTOBER 1882, Page 13


TUNE'S HISTORY OP ROME.* WE wrote, some years ago, when reviewing the third volume of this history, that Dr. Ihne was attempting a task beyond his powers. In and by itself, his performance is creditable enough ; but it directly and even ostentatiously challenges comparison with the far better work of a far greater historian, and we are neither surprised nor sorry to find that its author has abruptly desisted from an unequal contest. Such, at least, is the inter- pretation which we give to the fact that Dr. Ihne closes his history at the death of Sulla. It is needless to say that his title-page has now become a misnomer, and ought to be altered. This, however, is a trifle ; and we do not feel in the least called upon to discuss the reason which he gives for stopping where he does. Dean Merivale, he says, in his History of the .Romans under the Empire, very properly makes the death of * The History of Rome. By Wilhelm Ihne. Vols. IV. and V. London : Long- mans, Green, and 00. 1:c3. Sulla his starting-point. Granted, but is that a reason why The History of Rome should terminate at the death of Salta, ? Clearly not, yet Dr. Ihne's wisdom in stopping where he does is none the less to be commended. His inferiority to Mommsen is more marked than ever in his present volumes, and his grow- ing consciousness of that inferiority is visible in his peevish notes, and in other signs of dissent for dissenting's sake from the opinions of his great predecessor. Of these we shall speak further on. At present, to commence with the beginning, we must deal with a portion of Dr. Ihne's preface,—first, be- cause it raises a question of more importance and interest to the general reader than matters of disputed evidence ; secondly, because upon its solution the raison d'art; of this history appears in a great measure to turn. "After ascertaining the facts of history," says Dr. Ihne, we approach the more deli- .cate task of appreciating the political and moral principles by which individual men and whole nations were actuated. There is a class of historians and critics who object to pronouncing a judgment of men and events. They would confine history to a simple narrative of events, without comment, or even the expression of assenting or dissenting feelings. This has been called objective history, and it has been commended as history written ' sine ira et studio.' I do not profess to have aimed at such an ideal, nor do I think that those who can write history without having their feelings engaged upon one or the other side can be true historians. A man incapable of feeling sym- pathy or aversion should not deal with the investigation, cer- tainly not with the delineation, of the acts of moral agents. And, indeed, experience shows that only those histories are pro- ductive of great and lasting effects which glow with the moral warmth of the writer." Now, there can be no mistake about the object of these remarks, though we may remind Dr. Ihne that the " moral warmth " of Thucydides and Gibbon is scarcely one of their strongest characteristics. But Mr. E. A. Freeman, in one of his brilliant historical essays, has denied—we quote from memory—the existence of a moral sense in Mommsen. This we regard as an exaggeration ; and in another essay, Mr. Freeman supplies us with a weapon to use against any very close application of Dr. Ihne's theory. Dr. Arnold's views, he says, were never unfair, but the keenness of his moral sense sometimes (made him unjust. We fail to appreciate this distinction. But the remarkable fact which we wish to insist upon is this. In his present volumes, at all events, Dr. Ihne appears to us to be further out than Mommsen in his moral judgments. The latter, indeed, never preaches ; but the awful deterioration, for instance, in the char- acter of Marius comes out much more clearly in his stern, brief narrative of that celebrated man's death, than in Dr. Ihne's diluted and quasi-apologetic comments. The man who had been his country's idol in his first and her laughing-stock in his sixth consulship; found himself the mark for her curses when he entered on his seventh. Brave and honest to the core by nature, the hapless victim of ill-weaved ambition and ungovernable passions had then become the crack-brained leader of a band of reckless scoundrels. He appears to have felt this himself. His days were passed in scenes of wild excitements, and night brought no sleep to his uneasy couch. He flew for relief to the wine-cup ; fever intervened, and after a few days' illness he died.

Dr. Ihne gives himself much trouble to throw doubts on this account, as if a drinking-bout more or less could heighten or lessen the guilt of a frenzied old ruffian's butcheries. Yet these, it seems, were not so bad as they are thought to be. " They were committed," we are told, "when Marius was half- mad from the sufferings and indignities he had endured, when, perhaps, he hardly knew what he was doing; and he may, in the opinion of humane judges, gain by comparison with Saila." Now, if the writer who tells us this had branded Sulla's pro- scriptions as Niebuhr branded them, such a remark as this might pass. As it is, we are left in some doubt as to whether Dr. Ihne does not think that the Roman people were right in forgetting and forgiving, as he says they did, Sulla's merciless atrocities, in their feeling of admiration and gratitude for the real benefits which they had received, from the "greatest man whom Rome had, so far, produced." On the " moral warmth " of such a judgment as this, it is unnecessary to speak, but the sentence which we have italicised suggested another critic- ism. Dr. Ihne, it seems to us, has here and elsewhere tried, so to speak, to outroar Mommsen with Mommsen's own thunder. The force and originality of the latter's description of Sulla are inimit- able; its accuracy and justice are far from unimpeachable. But. Dr. Ihne does not tone down his rival's too brilliant picture of the " Don Juan of politics." Incidentally, and no doubt un- wittingly, he rather heightens it, by needlessly exaggerating Sulla's military abilities. That they were great is certain, but they were not greater than those of Marius, and nothing can be more unfair or misleading than remarks like the following :— "The most signal services rendered by Marius were his victorious campaigns against the Teutones and Cimbri. But these wild hordes knew nothing of the military art ; they acted without plan and con- cert, and were strangers to the discipline of the Roman Legions. The victory which was gained over them was due more to the superiority of Roman tactics and equipment than to the strategy of the Com- mander-in-Chief. Saila, on the other hand, was met in Greece by enemies of a different stamp. The Generals whom he had to oppose were men who had made the art of war a study, and who had been trained in the traditions and experience of Greek and Macedonian masters. Archelaus and Neoptolemus, Motrophanes, Dromichaetes, and Dorilans were men of a very different order from those Bar- barian captains whose excellence consisted in their huge bones and powerful muscles, or in their agility in leaping over teams of horses. They acted upon a preconcerted plan in carrying out the orders of a king who wielded an immense power, and conducted all their opera- tions from a central point."

If the victories of Marius were so entirely due to his soldiery, what is to be said of the five great defeats, culminating in a day of carnage second. only to Cannae, which the Roman armies had met with from these depreciated Barbarians, before their career was checked at Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae P Sulla, no doubt, had enormous difficulties to contend with. Mithridates was master of the sea, and the • Roman General was in much the same position as Napoleon would have been in Italy, if a sud- den revolution at Paris had restored the Bourbons while he was besieging Mantua. On the other hand, Sulla's adversaries were, on the whole, contemptible. The influence of Mithridates on his Generals was worse than that of the Aulic Council on the Generals of Austria ; and the Asiatic hosts which Sulla cut to pieces at Chaeronea and Orchomenus were weaker and not stronger fighters than the Barbarians of the North. Arche- laus may or may not have been a capable leader. The success of Palafox at Saragossa gives us no warrant for supposing that he could have led. the Spaniards to victory on the plains of (Deana. And it is strange that Dr. Ihne, after quoting Appian's express statement that the defeat of Chaeronea was due to the incapacity of Archelaus, should still speak of the latter as the "able Archelaus," and dwell upon the "consummate general- ship" displayed by Sulla in overthrowing so "respectable an opponent."

Another and a stronger instance, perhaps, of the false position in which Dr. Ihne has placed himself will be found in the many pages which he has devoted to the Vestal-Virgin scandalalla B.C., and to the Bacchanal scandal, 186 B.C. Each of these affairs is dismissed by Mommsen in a few concise and pregnant sentences. Each is made the theme of a long-winded and unsatisfactory discussion by Dr. Ihne. We must quote the strange conclusion which he draws from a series of irrelevant hypotheses with regard to the last of these scandals ;— " The Bacchanalia in Rome were not, as they are usually repre- sented, a horrible plot for the destruction of State and family ; not a deliberate ()ionisation for licentiousness and murder, but an attempt, though a vain attempt, to escape from the desolation of a religion of unmeaning forms which offered no comfort to the heart, no peace to the conscience, no scope for higher religions aspirations, no means of rising to a religious life which exalts man from the mechanical formalism of worn-out ceremonies to spiritual excitement, to enthusiasm, to a forgetfulness of self, and to a longing for union with God," If Dr. Ihne chooses to believe all this, believe it he may. But the rowdy votaries of the disreputable cult which he would fain whitewash sought "self-forgetfulness," "spiritual excite- ment," "union," &c., by means which made them social posts; and it is they, rather than the people who lived to stamp them out, who should be spoken of as the victims of a " mental epidemic."

The career of Caius Gracchus is of especial interest at the present day, when evils analogous to those which he vainly and not too wisely tried to cure are beginning to make themselves felt in England. We have no hesitation in accepting Mom m- sen's view of this celebrated man, in preference to the "dia- metrically opposite" view propounded by Dr. Ihne. The elder Gracchus went for reform, the younger for revolution ; and it seems to us as improbable that the latter would- have been contented with a tribuneship subject to annual election, as Napoleon would have been with a First Consulship on similar terms. None the less is it clear that this was the

weakest, though not the worst spot in the schemes of Caius Gracchus. The perpetual dictatorship which Cessar won with the sword could be kept by the sword. The perpetual tribune- ship, which Gracchus dreamed of, would have gone down before the first gust of unpopularity,—

" Velut minute magno Depronsa navis in marl vesaniento vento.".

In strict justice to Dr. Ihue, we should notice that in no other portion of his work does he sink so immeasurably below Momm- sen as in that which deals with Roman literature. Nor is this at all wonderful. For a critic who tells us that "at the period of the Renaissance people began to study the classical poets of the best time," and that "the result was the studied and correct, but less original, productions of the Classical school, such as Milton's Paradise Lost, Racine's Phaedra, Klopstock'e Iffessias, and Goethe's Iplvigenia," gives us a pretty fair gauge of his capa- city for handling such a topic. Readers who care to test that capacity still further, may do so by glancing at the note in which (Vol. IV., p. 288) Dr. Ihno defends, or rather impugns, his own thesis that "what is but half-understood, often makes upon the half-educated a far deeper impression than what is altogether plain and comprehensible."

" In all modern poetry," he says, " English, French, German, Italian, there is an apparatus of Greek mythology which must be sorely puzzling to the majority of readers. The good-sense of our own time begins at last to discredit these false jewels." Dr. Ihue does not often write so crudely and carelessly as here. His history is the respectable work of a respectable, but some- what captious writer ; and it is the author's misfortune rather than his fault that this history must fail to meet with the recognition which, under other conditions, it would readily and deservedly obtain. But to this conclusion come we must. No student of Roman history can afford to neglect Mommsen, and any one who has studied Mommsen may, and probably should, since life is short, neglect to study Dr. Ihne. " Il meglio l'inimico del bone."