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HISTORY OF ROME
FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE ESTABLISHMENT
OF THE EMPIRE.
BY HENRY G. LIDDELL, D.D.,
DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD; LATE HEAD MASTER OF WESTMINST ER SCHOOL.
This work was begun some years ago, chiefly for the purpose of imparting to the Upper Forms in Schools some knowledge of the altered aspect which Roman History has assumed. It was laid aside, mainly, because notices appeared of several works written with a similar purpose ; and was resumed in accordance with the opinion of friends who had a good right to form a judgment upon the matter. It has imperceptibly assumed larger dimensions, and the character of the book is considerably changed from that which it was originally intended to bear. A History of Rome, suited to the wants of general readers of the present day, does not in fact exist, and certainly is much wanted : whether this work will in any way supply the want is for others to say.
The task has been executed under some disadvantages. My days were for the most part fully occupied; and what time I had to spare was liable to be broken in upon in many ways. When I came to revise the whole for the Press, I found the effects of this interrupted labour in various errors and repetitions ; and I cannot but fear that much of this original taint may still be detected. But I hope, after all deductions, that I may have put into the Reader's hand a book in some measure free from the reproach cast by a great living writer upon all compendious Histories,-namely, that they are Histories in which nothing of History remains except the Proper Names.
The difficulty inseparable from a work of this kind lies in the treatment of the Early History. Since what may be called If I may
“ The Revolution of Niebuhr," it has been customary to give an abstract of his conclusions, with little attention to the evidence upon which they rest.
which they rest. But the acute and laborious criticisms of many scholars, chiefly German, have greatly modified the faith which the present generation is disposed to place in Niebuhr's authoritative dicta; and in some cases there may be observed a disposition to speak lightly of his services. say anything of myself, I still feel that reverence for the great Master which I gained in youth, when we at Oxford first applied his lamp to illuminate the pages of Livy. No doubt many of the results which he assumes as positive are little better than arbitrary assertions. But I conceive that his main positions are still unshaken, or rather have been confirmed, by examination and attack. If, however, they were all abandoned, it will remain true for ever, that to him is due the new spirit in which Roman History has been studied ; that to him must be referred the origin of that new light which has been thrown upon the whole subject by the labours of his successors. In a work like this, dissertation is impossible; and I have endeavoured to state only such results of the new criticism as seem to be established. If the young reader has less of positive set before him to learn, he will at all events find less that he will have to unlearn.
Far the greater part of this work was printed off before the appearance of Sir George Cornewall Lewis's • Inquiry into the Credibility of Early Roman History.' Much labour might be saved by adopting his conclusions, that Roman History deserves little or no attention till the age at which we can securely refer to contemporaneous writers, and that this age cannot be carried back further than the times of Pyrrhus. It is impossible to speak too highly of the fullness, the clearness, the patience, the judicial calmness of his elaborate argument. But while his conclusions may be conceded in full for almost all the Wars and Foreign Transactions of early times, we must yet claim attention for the Civil History of Rome in the first ages of the Republic. There is about it a consistency of progress, and a clearness of intelligence, that would make its fabrication more wonderful than its transmission in a half-traditionary form. When tradition rests solely on memory, it is fleeting and uncertain ; but when it is connected with customs, laws, and institutions, such as those of which Rome was justly proud, and to which the ruling party clung with desperate tenacity, its evidence must doubtless be carefully sifted and duly estimated, but ought not altogether to be set aside.
I have made free use of the works of modern writers. Among the works of our English labourers in this field it is almost superfluous to notice Dr. Arnold's History of the early times of the Republic, Mr. Merivale’s of the last age, and Bishop Thirlwall's account of the dealings of Rome with Macedon and Greece. Among foreign Scholars, I should be ungrateful if I omitted to mention Becker's admirable work on Roman Antiquities, with Marquhardt's Continuation (to which I am largely indebted for the Chapters on Constitutional History), the two works of K. W. Nitzsch on Polybius and the Gracchi, the volume of M. de Mérimée on the period of the Social War and the First Civil Wars, and Drumann's elaborate Biographies. I have not been studious to add Notes for the purpose of authenticating facts, except when the fact stated seemed specially to require it: otherwise such references only have been made as may serve to excite interest or impart instruction.