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74

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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74 ROMAN DA YS.
in the discovery and disentanglement of the theoretic
knot in practical questions that came up ; and this he
often did in a manner that bore witness, one may almost
say, of philosophic gifts. Tacitus has given us a notable
proof of this. The leading citizens of Gallia Comata,
who owned the right of Roman citizenship, and whose
language and education had long been Roman, urged
that they were entitled to apply for and be appointed tc
offices of state in Rome. The demand excited bitterness
and vehement opposition, not only among the multitude
of senators and knights, but even we may safely say,
among the common people of the capital ;
for in spite of
all divisions of rank and class, even at that period every
street boy born within the city walls, pretended to greater
consequence than the foremost citizens of the provincial
towns. There was in truth a hierarchical arrangement,
supported by tradition though no longer applied in
political life, of the lands and peoples tributary to Rome,
in which the Italians took the first place, the Greeks the
second, the Gauls the third, and so down to the Egyp-
tians, who were commonly put lowest. They questioned
now, in Rome, whether men whose fathers had been bar-
barians, and the fiercest foes of the city on the Tiber,
should force their way into the senate itself, and humble
the descendants of Romulus, by wearing the purple-
bordered toga. The call to rights of blood, of race,
of " nationality," echoed as loudly then as in our own
day. Claudius called the senate together, then, and
made a speech to the fathers, rebellious listeners, to
demonstrate that Rome was not, nor ever had been,
what they were pleased to imagine—a society built upon
the basis of nationality. He reminded them of the
Sabine origin of his own very ancient race, of the deriva-

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