We have seen in what sort of a home a Roman dwelt in town or country. Meanwhile it goes without saying that the non-Roman or non-Romanized populations of the empire were living in houses and amid furniture of their own special type--Greek, Syrian, Egyptian, or as the case might be. They were also living their lives after their own fashion in respect of dress, meals, occupations, and amusements.
We may now look at the manner in which a typical Roman might spend an ordinary day in the metropolis, and endeavour to form some clear idea of the outward aspects of such a life. In the first instance our Roman shall be a man of the senatorial aristocracy, blessed with both high position and ample means, but one who, for the time being, holds no public office, whether as a governor, a military commander, a Minister of Roads or Water Supply, an officer of the Exchequer, or of Justice. Instead of referring to him awkwardly as "our citizen," we will call him Silius. The same name may be borne by a large number of other persons, for it is the name of an early Roman family which in course of time may have divided into several branches or "houses," answering to each other very much as the "Worcestershire" So-and-Sos may answer to the "Hampshire" So-and-Sos, except that the distinction in the Roman case is not territorial. Our Silius will therefore naturally bear further names to distinguish him. One will be the special appellation of his own "house" or branch, derived in all probability from its first distinguishing member. Let us assume, for instance, that he is a Silius Bassus. As, again, there are probably a number of other persons belonging to the same branch and entitled to the same two designations, he will possess a "front name," answering to our "Christian" name, and he shall be called for our purposes Quintus Silius Bassus. It is the middle name of the three which is regarded as the name, but when there is no danger of mistake our friend may be addressed or written of as either Silius or Bassus. In private life among his intimates he prefers to be called Quintus. The individual name, family name, and branch name were frequently followed by others, but at least these three are regularly owned by any Roman with claims to old descent. To us, however, he will be Silius.
He lives, let us say, in one of the larger town-houses on the Caelian Hill, looking across the narrow valley towards the Palatine, somewhere near the modern church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. It is before day-break that the loud bell has awakened the household slaves and set them to their work. In the road below and away in the city the carts, which are forbidden during the full daytime, are still rumbling with their loads of produce or building-material. All night long the less happily housed inhabitants have tolerated this noise, together with the droning and grating of the mills grinding the corn in the bakers' shops. It is however, now approaching dawn, and imperial Rome, which goes to sleep late, wakes early. No few Romans, even of the highest classes, have already been up for an hour or two, reading by lamplight, writing letters or dictating them to an amanuensis, who takes them down rapidly in a form of shorthand. Out in the streets the boys are on their way to school, the poorer ones carrying their own lanterns--at least if it is the time of year when the days are short--their writing-tablets and their reading-books, probably Virgil and Horace, who were standard authors serving in the Roman schools as Shakespeare and Pope do in our own. Boys of well-to-do parents are accompanied by an elderly slave of stern demeanour. In the distance are heard the sounds of the first hammers and the cries of the venders of early breakfasts.
Silius rises, and with the help of a valet, who is of course a slave, dresses himself. His household barber--another slave--shaves him, trims his hair in the approved style and cleans his nails. At this date clean shaving was the rule. Every emperor from Augustus to Hadrian, fifty years later than Nero, was clean shaven, and the fashion set by emperors was followed as closely by the contemporary Roman as "imperials" and "ram's-horn" moustaches have been imitated in later times. The hair was kept carefully neither too long nor too short. Only in time of mourning was it permitted to grow to a negligent length. By preference it should be somewhat wavy, but there was no parting. Dandies had their hair curled with the tongs and perfumed, so at to smell "all over the theatre." If they were bald, they wore a wig; sometimes they actually had imitation hair painted across the bare part of the scalp. If nature had given them the wrong colour, they corrected it with dye. If the exposed parts of the body were hairy, they plucked out the growth with tweezers or used depilatories. But these were the dandies, and we need not assume Silius to have been one of them.
It is to be a day of some formality, and Silius will therefore attire himself accordingly. In other words, he will put on the typical Roman garb. Of whatever else this may consist, it will comprise a band round the middle, a woolen--less often a linen--tunic with or without sleeves, and over this the voluminous woollen toga; on the feet will be shoes. Of further underwear a Roman used as much or as little as he chose. If, like the Emperor Augustus, he felt the cold, he might indulge in several shirts and also short hose. Such practices, however, were commonly regarded as coddling. Breeches were worn at this date only by soldiers serving in northern countries, where they had picked up the custom from the "barbarians." Mufflers were used by persons with a tender throat.
[Illustration: FIG. 59.--PATRICIAN SHOES.]
[Illustration: FIG. 60.--ROMAN IN THE TOGA.]
Inasmuch as Silius is of senatorial rank, his tunic, which will show through the open front of his toga, bears the broad inwoven stripe of purple running down the middle, and his shoes--which otherwise might be of various colours, such as yellow with red laces--are black, fastened by cross straps running somewhat high up the leg and bearing a crescent of silver or ivory upon the instep. The stripe, the shoes, and the crescent mark his senatorial standing. That which marks him as a citizen at all is the toga--an article of dress forbidden to any inhabitant of the empire who could not call himself in the full sense "_Civis Romanus_." It was a cumbrous and heavy garment (when spread out it formed an oval of about 15 feet by 12), with which no man who wanted to work or travel or simply to be comfortable would hamper himself. St. Paul was a Roman citizen, but, if he ever wore a toga at all, it would only be when he desired to bring his citizenship home to a Roman court, and we should probably be quite mistaken in imagining that he travelled about with a toga in his baggage, or, as the Authorised Version calls it, his "carriage." When out of town, in his country-seat or when amusing himself at home in the city, especially in the warmer weather, the Roman cast off his toga with a sigh of relief. In the provincial towns of Italy, though theoretically as much in demand, this blanket-like covering was little used by any man except on the most formal public and religious occasions, and, as a poet says, "when dead," for then the toga was indispensable. Nevertheless at Rome it was the necessary dress for all men of position when appearing in any sort of public life. The Roman emperors insisted upon its use in all places of public amusement--the theatre, circus, or amphitheatre. In a court of justice the president certainly could not "see" a pleader unless he wore it. You cannot be present at a formal social ceremony--a wedding, a betrothal, a coming of age, a levée--without this outward and visible mark of respect. Nor was it sufficient that you should wear it. It must be properly draped and must fall to the right point, which, in front, was aslant over the lower part of the shin, while behind it fell to the heel. Your wardrobe slave must see that it has been kept properly folded and pressed. If you claimed to be a gentleman, and were not in mourning and not an official, it must be simply and scrupulously white. Poorer people might wear a toga of a duller or dark-grey wool, which would better conceal a stain and require to go less frequently to the fuller. The same dull hue was also worn in time of mourning, or as an ostentatious token of a gloomy spirit, as for example, when one of your friends was in peril of condemnation in the law-courts, or when you fancied that some serious injustice was being done or threatened to your social order. The only person privileged to wear a toga of true purple was the emperor. On the whole the Roman dress was very simple; far more so than in mediaeval times or the days of Elizabeth or Charles II. Velvet and satin were not yet known, furs hardly so, and there were very few changes of fashion.
Silius will also wear at least one large signet-ring as well as his plain ring of gold, but he will leave it to the dandies to load their fingers with half-a-dozen and to keep separate sets for winter and summer. When Quintilian, in his Training of the Orator, touches upon the subject of rings, he recommends as requisite for good form that "the hand should not be covered with rings, and especially should they not come below the middle joint." A handkerchief will be carried, but only to wipe away perspiration.
Having finished his dressing, he may choose this time for taking his morning "snack," corresponding to the coffee and roll or tea and bread-and-butter of modern times. It is but a light repast of wine or milk, with bread and honey, or a taste of olives or cheese or possibly an egg. Schoolboys seem to have often eaten a sort of suet dumpling. In the strength of this meat our friend will go till mid-day.
As he has no very early call to the imperial court upon the Palatine, he will now proceed to hold his own reception of morning callers. For this purpose he will come out to the spacious hall, which has been already described as the most essential part of a Roman house, and will there establish himself in the opening of the recess or bay which has also been described as a kind of reception-room or parlour. Before he arrives, the hall has been swept and polished by the brooms and sponges of the slaves, under the direction of a foreman. The number of Silius' household slaves is very great. Very many Romans of course owned no slave at all; many had but one or two; but it was considered that a person of anything like respectable means could hardly do with less than ten. Silius will probably employ several times that number. We have mentioned the valet, the barber, the wardrobe-keeper, and the amanuensis. We must add to these the cooks, the pastry-makers, the waiters, the room-servants, the doorkeeper, the footmen, messengers, litter-carriers, the butler and pantrymen. Some of the superior slaves have drudges of their own. The librarian, accountant, and steward are all slaves. Even the family physician or architect may be a slave. Many of these men may be persons of education and talent. Their one deficiency is that they are not free. Many of them are in colour and feature indistinguishable from the people outside; most, however, show their origin in their foreign physique. They are Phrygians, Cappadocians, Syrians, Jews, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Numidians, Spaniards, Gauls, Germans, Thracians, and Greeks. Their master either inherited them from his father or friends, or he bought them in the slave-market. For whatever reason they became slaves--whether as prisoners of war, by birth, through debt, through condemnation for some offence, by kidnapping like that practised by the Corsairs or the modern Arabs, or through being sold by their own parents--they had become the Property of slave-dealers, who picked them up in the depots on the Black Sea or at Delos or Alexandria, and brought them to Rome. There they were stripped and exposed for sale, the choicer specimens in a select part of a fashionable shop, the more ordinary types in the auction mart, where they were placed upon a stand or stone bench, were labelled with their age, nationality, defects, and accomplishments, and were sold either under a guarantee or without one. For an ordinary room-slave Silius, or his agent for him, has paid perhaps £20; for a servant of more special skill, such as a particularly soft-handed barber, perhaps £50; the price of a muleteer who was "too deaf to overhear private conversation in a carriage" might thereby be enhanced to £150; for a slave with educational or artistic accomplishments--a good reader, reciter, secretary, musician, or actor--he may have paid some hundreds. If he is a man of morbid tastes, and affects a particular kind of dainty favourite, he may go as far as a thousand. Curly-haired pages and amusing dwarfs are generally dear. It is the business of the house-steward to see that each slave receives his daily or monthly rations of corn, a trifling sum of money for other needs, and perhaps an allowance of thin wine. Many a slave also received a considerable number of "tips" from guests, as well as perquisites and presents from his master. With economy he was thus enabled to purchase his own freedom. The master might also in some cases provide the slave with the essentials of his dress, to wit, a coarse tunic, a rough cloak, and a pair of shoes or sabots.
Over all these persons, so long as they are slaves, the owner possesses absolute power. He can box their ears, or condemn them to hard labour--making them, for instance, work in chains upon his lands in the country or in a sort of prison-factory--or he may punish them with blows of the rod, the lash, or the knout; he can brand them upon the forehead if they are thieves or runaways, or in the end, if they prove irreclaimable, he can crucify them. Branded slaves who afterwards became free and rich sought to conceal the marks by wearing patches. There were inevitably some instances in which masters proved so intolerably cruel that their slaves were driven to murder them. To prevent any conspiracy of the kind the law ordained that, when a master was so killed, the slaves should one and all be put to death. It is gratifying to learn that in the reign of Nero the whole populace sided with a body of slaves in this predicament and prevented the law from being carried out.
[Illustration: FIG. 61.--SLAVE IN FETTERS.]
But, being a typical Roman, Silius has a strong sense of justice; moreover he values public opinion as well as his own. Also, being a typical Roman, he behaves with strictness and for the most part with a distinct haughtiness of manner, graduated, no doubt, according to the standing of the individual. When, as was often the case, he did not even know the name of a slave whom he came across in hall or peristyle, he frequently addressed him as "Sirrah" or "Sir" or "You, Sir." To the waiter at table and for ordinary commands, where the master affects no ceremony, the commonest term is "boy," precisely as that word is used in the East or garçon in French. If Silius knew the actual appellation assigned to the slave when bought and was disposed to be kindly, he accosted him by it, calling him "Syrian," or "Thracian," or "Croesus," or by his proper Greek or Egyptian name. The slave, unlike the Roman citizen, owned but one name, and the shorter the better.
We meet, as is only natural, with many examples of great trust and confidence between master and slave, and, in the case of the superior types, no few instances of great kindness and consideration. Pliny speaks of his "long friendship" for a cultivated slave named Zosimus, whom he set free, and whom, because he was liable to consumption, he sent to Egypt and the Riviera for the good of his health. A faithful or very useful slave could make tolerably sure of being some day emancipated with all due form and ceremony, either during the master's lifetime or by his last will and testament. In such a case he became a Roman citizen of the rank known as "freedman," and after the second generation there was nothing to prevent his descendants from aspiring to any position open to any other Roman. Sometimes even his son attained to public office. On attaining his citizenship the freedman became entitled to "the three names," and it was the rule that he should adopt the family name of his master. A freedman of Silius is himself a Silius. Also by preference he will be a Quintus Silius; but he will not be a Bassus. The third name will still, for his own lifetime, be such as to mark him for what he is. Moreover, though free, he is himself still bound to pay a dutiful respect to his former master's family, but beyond this he is at his own disposal and in possession of every right in regard to person and property. Many such men were extremely skilful in trade and made themselves rich enough to vie with the Roman aristocracy in outward show. The freedmen of the Emperor, who occupied positions of influence at court as chamberlains, stewards, private secretaries and the like, and were the powers behind the throne, became enormously wealthy. Their houses were adorned with the finest marble columns, the most richly gilded ceilings, and the most costly works of art; the choicest fruits ripened under glass in their forcing-houses, and, when they died, their monuments were among the most sumptuous by the side of the great highways. "Freedmen's wealth" became a proverb. They were occasionally even appointed to those minor governorships held by "agents" of Caesar, and the Felix of the New Testament was himself a freedman of Nero's predecessor and brother to one of the richest and most influential of the class. In the provincial cities of Italy freedmen, though they were not themselves eligible for the ordinary offices, might in return for acts of munificence be admitted to what may be called an inferior grade of knighthood--a sort of C.M.G.--styled the "Order of Augustus." They thus became notables of their own town in a way of which they were sufficiently proud, as the Pompeian inscriptions show. It was part of the shrewdness of Augustus to kill two birds with one stone, by erecting a provincial order directly attached to the cult of the Emperor, and by encouraging the local self-made man to spend money liberally upon the embellishment and comfort of his own municipality.
Well, Silius, meeting with or escorted by various slave attendants, passes from the inner rooms through the passage into the hall and finds waiting for him a throng of visitors known as his "clients" or dependants. The position of these persons is somewhat remarkable. They are commonly free Roman citizens of the "genteel" middle class, who openly admit that they depend for the bulk of their living upon the patronage of the noble or the rich. The custom arose from a very old condition of things, under which certain classes of citizens, not being entitled to appear in the law-courts or in public business on their own behalf, put themselves under the protection of a person so entitled, who, in return for certain acts of support and deference, appeared as their advocate and champion. At a later time, even though their rights had become complete, men might still seek counsel, legal advice, and advocacy from a person of influence and eloquence. In return they paid him the honour of escort in the streets, supported him in his candidature for public office, applauded his speeches, and exercised on his behalf such influence as they possessed. The standing of a prominent Roman was apt to be measured by the number and quality of the persons thus attaching themselves to him. If next it is remembered that very few money-making occupations were looked upon with favour by the Romans, and that the higher orders were for the most part very rich, it will be obvious that there would grow up the custom of the patron making liberal presents to his dependants--money gifts, or gifts of small properties and of useful articles--as well as of inviting them to his table. The clients themselves brought little presents on the patron's birthday or some other special occasion, but these were merely the sprats to catch the whale. It gradually resulted that the patronage extended by the aristocrat or plutocrat was mainly one of a direct pecuniary nature. As in other cases where a dubious custom develops gradually, there ceased to be any shame in this relation. Many members of the middle class, impoverished and earning practically no other income, lived the life of genteel paupers. They would attend the morning reception of a grandee, either bringing with them, or causing a slave to bring, a small basket, or even a portable cooking-stove, in which they carried off doles of food distributed through his servants. The scene must have borne no slight resemblance to that of the charity "soup-kitchen." In process of time, however, this practice became inconvenient for all parties, and most of the patrons compounded for such doles by making a fixed payment, still called the "little basket," amounting perhaps to a shilling in modern weight of money for each day of polite attention on the part of a recognised "client." If a client was acknowledged by more than one patron, so much the better for the amount of his "little baskets." In some cases the dole was paid to each visitor at the morning call; in others only after the work of the patron's day was done and when he had gone to the elaborate bath which preceded his dinner in the later part of the afternoon. By this means the complimentary escort duty was secured until that time.
Among the dependants were nearly all the genteel unemployed of Rome, including the Grub-Street men of letters, who in those days could make little, if anything, by their books, and who therefore sought the same kind of assistance as did our own literary rank and file in the early eighteenth century. When we read the authors of the period we are inevitably reminded of Samuel Johnson waiting in the ante-chamber of Lord Chesterfield, and of the flattering dedications of books which were so liberally or illiberally paid for by the recipients of such compliments. From his little flat, often a single room and practically an attic, in the tenement-house, the client would emerge before daylight, dressed de rigueur in his toga, which was often sadly worn and thin. He would make his way for a mile or more through the carts, the cattle, an the schoolboys, sometimes in fine weather, sometimes through the rain and cold, when the streets were muddy and slippery, and would climb the hill to his patron's door, joined perhaps on the way by other citizens bent on the same errand. Gathering in that open space or vestibule which has already been described, they waited for the janitor to open the door. If the doorkeeper of Silius was like the generality of his kind, he would take a flunkey's pleasure in keeping them waiting, and also, except in the case of those who had been wise enough to ease his manners with a "tip," or who were known to be in special favour, a flunkey's pleasure in exhibiting his contempt. Brought into the hall, they stood or sat about and conversed until Silius appeared. Then, according to an established order of precedence--which apparently depended on seniority of acquaintance, while again it might be affected by a douceur--they were presented one by one to the patron.
One must not expect a Roman noble to deign always to remember the names of humble persons--sometimes he actually did not--and therefore a slave, known as the "name-caller," announces each client in turn. The client says, "Good morning, Sir," and Silius replies, "Good morning, So-and-So," or "Good morning, Sir," or simply "Good morning." There is a shaking of hands, or, if the patron is a gracious gentleman and the client is of old standing, Silius may kiss him on the cheek and offer some polite inquiry or remark. A very haughty person might merely offer his hand to be kissed and perhaps not open his mouth at all, even if he condescended to look at you. But these habits were hardly so characteristic of our times as of a somewhat later date.
The reception over, the client obtains information as to the movements of his patron during the day. On the present occasion it appears that Silius himself is to proceed at once to pay his own morning homage to a still higher patron, His Highness Nero, who is at home on the Palatine Hill, and whose levée calls imperatively for the attendance of certain members of the aristocracy. At the palace there exists a roll of persons known as the "friends of Caesar"--a roll which depends solely on the favour of the emperor. Naturally it contains the names of a number of the highest senators and of the chief officers of the state, but a place in it is not gained simply by such positions, nor is it restricted to them. There may be a few knights and others on the list. To be removed from the roll is to be socially a marked man and a person to be avoided. Silius is, at least for the time being, one of the "friends." Nero is not yet in sufficient financial straits to require that Silius should be squeezed or sacrificed, nor has he chosen to take offence at something which a spy or informer has reported of him. Our friend therefore enjoys the entrée to the palace, and to the palace he goes.
It is a clear fine morning, and he has plenty of time. He therefore perhaps elects to go on foot. Learning this, a number of his clients form a procession. Some are honoured by walking at his side, a few go in advance and so clear a way through the crowd--which is already moving at the top of the Sacred Way--to the point where you turn off on the left and ascend to the entrance to the Palatine Hill. Some of the clients will walk behind, where also will be a lackey or two in waiting. On the way Silius may perhaps meet with Manlius, another noble, whom he probably greets with "Good morning, brother," and a kiss upon the cheek. This kissing, it may be remarked, ultimately became an intolerable nuisance, particularly among the middle classes, and the epigrammatist, after complaining of the cold noses and wet osculations of the winter-time, pleads to have the business at least put off till the month of April.
When it is a bad or sloppy day, Silius will decide to go in his litter, or Roman form of the palanquin. Being a senator he may use this conveyance, otherwise at this date he could not. There are also sedan chairs, but as yet there exists a prejudice against these as being somewhat effeminate. At this decision four, six, or eight tall fellows, slaves from Cappadocia or Germany by preference, clad in crimson liveries, thrust two long poles through the rings or the coloured leather straps which are to be found on the sides of the litter, and place these poles upon their shoulders. To all intents and purposes the litter is a couch with an arched roof above it, of the shape here indicated, but covered with cushions, which are often stuffed with down. Its woodwork is decorated with silver and ivory. The litter may either be carried open on all sides, or with curtains of coloured stuffs partially drawn, or it may be enclosed by windows of talc or glass. In the days when litters were in promiscuous use, persons who did not possess one, or perhaps the slaves to bear it, might hire such a vehicle from the "rank," after the modern manner of hiring a cab. In this receptacle Silius is carried amid the same procession as before.
[Illustration: FIG. 62.--LITTER.]
He will wear nothing on his head. On a journey, or when the sun was particularly strong in the roofless theatre or circus, he might put on a broad-brimmed hat, very much like that of the modern Italian priest. Instead of the hat it was common, when the weather so required, either to draw a fold of the toga over the head or to wear a hood closely resembling the monkish cowl. This might be either attached to a cloak or made separately for the purpose. The hood was also employed when, particularly in the evening, the wearer had either public or private reasons for concealing his identity as he moved abroad, commonly issuing in such cases from his side door. But on an ordinary day, and when attending a ceremony, the Roman head is bare. So also are the hands, for gloves are not yet in use.
On arriving at the palace--outside which there is generally standing a crowd of the curious or the snobs--Silius passes through the guards, Roman or German, at the doors, is taken in hand by the court slave or freedman who acts as usher, and himself goes through a process similar to that which his own clients have undergone. There are times, and just now they may be frequent, at which he will have to submit to a search, for fear he may be carrying a concealed weapon. If he is high in favour or position, he belongs to the batch of "first admittance," or first entrée. If not, he must be contented with "second." He will find that His Highness Nero, exacting as he may be concerning the costume of his callers, will not trouble to put on his own toga, as a more respectable emperor would have done, but will appear in anything he pleases, frequently a tunic or a wrapper of silk, relieved only by a handkerchief round the neck. Nor will his High Mightiness always condescend to lace his shoes. If he is in a good humour, he may bestow the kiss, remember your name, and call you "my very dear Silius." If he has been accustomed to do so, but omits the warmer greeting on this occasion, it may be taken as boding you no good. It is, however, very probable that in this year 64 he will refuse the kiss to almost every one of the senators, for he has already come openly to detest them. It will suffice if he so much as offers his hand to be saluted. Caligula, being a "god," had sometimes offered his foot, but only that crack-brained emperor had so far attempted this enormity.
[Illustration: FIG. 63.--READING A PROCLAMATION. (Pompeii.) The writing is upon a long board in front of equestrian statues.]
The day happens to be one on which the emperor has nothing further to say and requires no advice. Silius is therefore free to go his ways. There is also no meeting of the Senate, no festival, chariot-race, or show of gladiators. He has therefore only the ordinary day before him, and he proceeds, as practically every other caller does, towards the Forum and its neighbourhood. If on his way he meets with a great public official--a consul or a praetor--proceeding on duty, he politely makes way, and, if his head chances to be covered, he uncovers it. He loyally recognises the claims of that toga edged with purple, and of those lictors walking in front with the symbolic bundles of rods containing the symbolic axe. Whatever he may think of the men, he pays all respect to their office. The Forum is now full, the banking and money-changing are all aglow in the Basilica Aemilia, the loungers are playing their games of "three men in a row," or perhaps their backgammon, on the pavement of the outer colonnade of the Basilica of Julius. Groups are reading and discussing the columns of the "Daily News," which are either posted up or have been purchased from the professional copiers. This is an official, and therefore a censored, publication in clear manuscript, containing proclamations, resolutions of the senate, bulletins of the court, results of trials, the births and deaths registered in the city, announcements of public shows and sports, striking events, such as fires, earthquakes, and portents, and occasional advertisements. Silius may perhaps stop and read; more probably his slaves regularly purchase a copy for his private use. Criers are meanwhile bawling to you to come and see the Asiatic giant, or the mermen, or the two-headed baby. The old sailor who has been wrecked, or pretends to have been, is walking about with a harrowing picture of the scene painted on a board and is soliciting alms. The busybody is gossiping among little knots of people and telling, manufacturing, or magnifying the latest scandal, or the latest news from the frontier, from Antioch, from the racing-stables, the law-courts, or the palace. Perhaps Silius has a little banking business to do, and he enters the Basilica to give instructions as to sending a draft to Athens or Alexandria in favour of some friend or relative there who is in want of money, or whom he has instructed to make artistic or other purchases. In about seven days his correspondent will obtain the cash through a banker at Athens, or in about twelve or fourteen days at Alexandria.
Perhaps, however, one of his clients has asked for his help in a case at law, which is being tried either over the way in the Basilica of Julius, or round the corner to the right in the Forum of Augustus. If a man of study and eloquence, he may have consented to act as pleader--taking no fee, because he is merely performing a patron's duty. Noblesse oblige. In the year 64 a pleader who has taken up a cause for some one else than a dependant is allowed by law to charge a fee not exceeding £100, but the law says nothing, or at least can do no thing, as to the liberal presents which are offered him under some other pretext. If he is not to plead, Silius may at any rate have been requested to lend moral support by seating himself beside the favoured party and perhaps appearing as a witness to character. If he pleads in any complicated or technical case, it will generally be after careful consultation with an attorney or professional lawyer. Round the apse or recess in which the court sits there will stand a ring of interested spectators, and among them will be distributed as many as possible of his own dependants, who will religiously applaud his finely-turned periods and his witticisms. There was generally little chance of missing a Roman forensic witticism; its character was for the most part highly elaborate and its edge broad. In a later generation it was not rare for chance bystanders to be hired on the spot as claqueurs. The court itself consists of a large body of jurymen of position empanelled, not for the particular case, but for particular kinds of cases and for a period of time, and over these there presides one of the public officials annually elected for the judicial administration of Rome. The president sees that the proceedings are in accordance with the law, but the verdict is given entirely by the jury.
[Illustration: FIG. 64.--SEALED RECEIPT OF JUCUNDUS. Beside each seal is a signature; the writing in the hollow leaf is a summary of the receipt, which is itself shut between the two leaves bound with string.]
If there is no need for Silius to attend such a court, he may find many other demands upon his time. Among Romans of the higher classes etiquette was extremely exacting. Contemporaries themselves complain that social "duties" or "obligations" frittered away a large proportion of their day, and that they were kept perpetually "busy doing nothing." One man or woman is making a will, and asks you to be one of the witnesses to the signature and sealing; another is betrothing a son or daughter, and invites you to be present and attest the ceremony; another has a son of fifteen or sixteen concerning whom it is decided that he has now come of age, must put on the white toga of a man in the place of the purple-edged toga of the boy, and be led into the Forum in token of his new freedom; you must not omit the courtesy of attending. Another desires you to go with him before the magistrate while he emancipates a slave. Worst of all, perhaps, is the man who has written a poem or declamation, and who proposes to read it, or to get a professional elocutionist to read it, to his acquaintances. He has either hired a hall or borrowed a convenient room from a friend, and you are kindly invited to be present. We learn that these amateur authors did not permit their victims to forget the engagement, but sent them more than one reminder. At the reading or recitation it was your duty to applaud frequently, to throw complimentary kisses, and to exclaim in Greek, "excellent," "capital," "clever," "unapproachable," or "again," very much as we say "encore" in what we think is French, or "bravo" in Italian. The native Latin terms most commonly in use may perhaps be translated as "well said," "perfect," "good indeed," "divine," "a shrewd hit." On one occasion a certain Priscus was present at the reading of a poem, and it happened to open with an invocation to a Priscus. No sooner had the author begun, "Priscus, thou bidst me tell ..." than the man of that name called out "Indeed I don't." This "caused laughter" and "cast a chill over the proceedings." Pliny apologises for the man, as being a little light in the head, but he is manifestly tickled all the same. It is scarcely a wonder that the Roman was glad to escape from all these formalities of "toga'd Rome" to his country seat, or to the freer life of Baiae.
His business in the Forum accomplished, Silius returns to his house on the Caelian. As, on the slope of the Sacred Way, he passes the rich shops of the jewellers, florists, and perfumers, he may be tempted to make some purchase, which the attendant slaves will carry to the house. Arrived there, he will take his luncheon, a fairly substantial though by no means a heavy meal. He may perhaps be a married man. If nothing has yet been said about his wife, it is because in the higher Roman households the husband and wife owned their separate property, lived their own lives, and were almost equally free to spend their time in their own way, since marriage at this date was rather a contract than a union. If, however, he is a benedict, it is probable that at this meal the family will meet, no outside company being present. Silius himself reclines on a couch, the children are seated, and the wife may adopt either attitude. After this our friend will probably take a siesta, precisely as he might take it in Italy to-day. The practice was indeed not universal; nevertheless it was general. He will not go to bed, but will sleep awhile upon a couch in some quiet and darkened room. If he cannot sleep, or when he wakes, he may perhaps read or be read to. Where he will spend the afternoon till the bath and dinner is a matter of his own choice.
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