Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

soldiers' strength among the friendly Gauls, and then at their request made war upon the tribe whose town bequeathed its name, if not its site, to the Turin of modern times. It was commonly forgotten that he had been invited to the Po by the discontented Gauls, of whom the Insubres were the foremost clan, and that their guides would naturally lead him first to their own cantons, before they urged him to attack their neighbours.

To sum up then, it seems most probable, nay almost certain that the route adopted by the Roman writer was that from the Drôme to the Durance, and across the Mont Genèvre, the Alpes Cottiæ of the Roman Empire. It is also probable, though less evident, that Polybius believed the army to have made a longer circuit by the Rhone and the Tarentaise, across the Graian Alps, or what is now the Little St Bernard. If the two historians really are at issue, there is little doubt whose authority should stand the higher, as the earlier had higher qualities as an historian, and had made more special studies on this subject. General probabilities also are in favour of the easier, the lower, the better known, and the more favourably placed of the two passes. If any however prefer to think that the two accounts can be forced into agreement,—and most critics hitherto have assumed that this is possible—then it should be remembered that definite data in the form of proper names occur only in the account of Livy, and the problem must be to reconcile the earlier conditions in Polybius with the outlet through the Mont Genèvre. With the narrative of Livy we may probably connect the account of Varro above quoted, which distinguishes the route of Hannibal from that across the Graian Alps, and which may be due to reasoning from like data. He carries Pompeius by a different road to Spain, as does Sallust also in the fragment (Hist. III. 3) where he puts into that general's mouth the words Per Alpes iter, aliud atque Hannibal, nobis opportunius patefeci. But the statements in these cases are too vague to be critically handled.

It only remains now to deal with a third route—that over the Mont Cenis—which has found learned champions to advocate its claims. It should be stated at the outset that it is not certainly referred to by any ancient author, and there is no good evidence that it was known or used before the eighth century of our era when Pepin marched across it; but this is not of course conclusive, for Hannibal may have been guided over a pass that was else scarcely known, and Latin writers say too little of the Alps to enable us to reason surely from their silence in this case. But it is important to observe that the natural construction of our authors fails to suit the theory, at least in the form in which it is presented by its chief supporters, M. Larauza, Dr Ukert and Mr Ellis. These writers,

though differing in details, agree in the main features of the route, which they assume to have passed along the Southern bank of the Isère, across the Drac and the Romanche, and up the Val de Gresivaudan, at some point of which the beginning of the mountain ground is reckoned which extends over the heights that part the valleys of the Arc and of the Doria. They agree also in the attempt to reconcile the statements of both the ancient authors, by correcting them pretty freely where they see the need. In this we may note especially the following points.

1. It is supposed that Polybius mistook the Isère for the Rhone, though he travelled himself over the ground, and stated that the army kept near the latter river till they began to climb the heights.

2. The Allobroges, who are recorded as the native tribes with which the invaders came into collision in their way up to the Alps, are commonly assigned to the North of the Isère, which was afterwards the insula Allobrogum. The theory be. fore us transfers them without the slightest evidence, to the southern bank, assuming that they had no definite borders, or that the name itself was quite a vague one, loosely used for Gallic tribes, and possibly still lingering in the Allevard near St Jean de Maurienne.

3. The march along the Isère inverts the description of Polybius. In the earlier stages the Carthaginians must have moved over rugged country ill suited for their horse, and ex. posed to native onsets, while the easier ground comes higher up in the Val de Gresivaudan, and no definite point can be agreed on to suit the measurement of distance given.

4. The passage of the Romanche would have been formidable in the face of the Gauls, who are described as repelled only by the cavalry or by the succour of a friendly chieftain.

5. The Druentia of Livy must be explained to be the Drac, which the track in question crossed, while it lay far away from the Durance, for which Druentia is the undoubted name in ancient times, known as it was as the line of communication across the Alps with Spain.

6. The character of the Mont Cenis itself has been com. pared minutely with the narrative before us, and with some forcing of the text it has been shown that the measurements of time and distance may possibly be verified. We need not stay to discuss these attempts. It is not difficult to find some features of resemblance in almost every pass to the scenes and incidents described upon the march, and if they were the only data we might well despair of any definite conclusion. White rocks can be found also near the road, such as that de la Barmette in one account, or the rock of Baune according to another, and there are dangerous spots in the descent where the road might easily be swept away, and old snow lie long unmelted.

7. One argument indeed has been insisted on, that here alone could a point of view be found upon the summit, commanding an extensive prospect of the Italian plain, such as that which Hannibal is said to have had before him, when he tried to revive the drooping courage of his soldiers. The spot in question is not however on the road itself, but on a ridge which was little likely to have tempted the weary men to needless efforts through the snow for the sake of a fine view. Nor was the actual prospect of importance for the general's appeal. The phrase of Polybius on which stress has been laid (évápyela) more probably refers to the moral weight of evidence that Italy was within easy reach, than to any actual picture stretched out before the eyes.

The language of Livy is too definite indeed to be mistaken, in promontorio quodam, ubi longe ac late prospectus erat, consistere jussis militibus Italiam ostentat....XXI. 35. 7. But we must remember that Livy had little knowledge of the Alps; that he may easily have given a different colouring to the account of the general's address which he found in the old annalists; and that he was thinking more of rhetorical effect than of strict accuracy of local statements.

The three passes hitherto described are very far from being all of those whose rival claims have been supported. Almost every height which could possibly be crossed, and some indeed that are quite impassable for any but practised mountaineers, have been at some time advocated as the pass of Hannibal. Some routes have been disposed of by a fuller knowledge of the rugged country which lies between the Drac, the Romanche, and the Durance, and which until lately was almost unexplored, and ill described upon the maps. Some hopelessly conflict with the main data of the ancient authors, and the books or pamphlets written in their defence are only monuments of misplaced ingenuity and learning. None of these seems now to call for serious discussion.

It should be stated in conclusion that the claims of the Little St Bernard, or the Graian Alps, to be the pass intended by Polybius were recognized by General Melville in 1775, whose view was expanded by M. de Luc in 1818. Messrs Cramer and Wickham in the Dissertation of 1820 supported the same theory, and Mr Law in his masterly work upon the subject seems to have proved decisively that the evidence points to that conclusion, while Livy's pass must be the Mont Genèvre. Niebuhr and Mommsen have accepted the authority of Polybius in favour of the Graian Alps.

APPENDIX II.

EXCURSUS ON THE ROMAN RELIGION IN RELATION TO THE PRODIGIES IN LIVY XXI. 62 AND XXII. 10'.

We must turn to the Antiquarians of Rome, rather than to the historians or the poets, if we would learn the characteristic features of the old Italian Worship, for in later days they were so overlaid by the exotic growth of Greek religion that it was not easy to recognize their earlier forms.

The Latin husbandman was deeply impressed by the sense of his dependence on the powers of earth and sky: at every turn his path was crossed by some supernatural being on whose influence, whether kindly or malign, his weal or woe was subject. He analysed by cool reflection all the processes of daily life from the cradle to the grave, and for every incident within the family or social circle, for every detail of husbandry he found some guardian Power which he worshipped as divine. The names, harsh and uncouth as they may seem to us, carried their meaning on their face, and expressed the limits of the powers assigned; they were at first probably but Attributes of the One Great Unknown; the Jupiter or Divus pater, who moved in mysterious ways through Nature. The deities of Italy were never dressed up in human shapes by fancy, and artless hymns were the only forms of poetry which grew out of their worship. But the ritual needed for it was laborious and complex; all the details as gathered in the course of ages by tradition had to be punctiliously observed, else prayers and offerings were deemed null and void. In the family the house-father taught his children; in larger groups the brotherhoods (sodalicia) passed on from hand to hand the saving knowledge, while for the State priestly guilds (collegia), which never could die out, kept in their custody the sacred lore, which like the fire upon the city's hearth, burnt always with a steady flame. Of these, the College of the Pontiffs was even in the earliest age of Rome the supreme guardian of the State Religion. It scarcely dealt with the spiritual life of the family and smaller social groups; it left to others the purely ministerial functions of the priest; its duty was to guard, to harmonize, and to interpret the Public Code

1 Compare Bouche-Leclercq, Les Pontifes de l'Ancienne Rome; Preller, Römische Mythologie.

of Sacred Law. It knew the time-honoured methods by which each Power Divine must be approached; it alone had access to the ancient formularies of prayer, and all the nice rules of sacrificial usage.

None but the Pontiffs could be trusted to draw up the Calendar from year to year, and determine all the questions of casuistry which were suggested by its fasts and feasts. For the worship of the Romans was full of Pharisaic scruples. The slightest deviation from old usage might vitiate a long round of ceremonial forms, and the whole service must begin afresh, or the jealous Power might withhold its favour. In Cato's work on Agriculture we find the author not content with rules of close economy and skilful farming; he must also add a sort of Liturgy or Common Prayer-Book for the use of the labourers upon the farm, and the rubrics, extracted as they doubtless were from the text-books of the Pontiffs, help to show us how labori. ously painstaking was the temper of Roman worship. But with all its scrupulous care it could not but go wrong at times, the Sacred College therefore was called on to provide a remedial machinery to soothe the anger of the offended Powers. Was it a case merely of some ceremonial neglect ? the mistake observed might be corrected, the faulty service be repeated (instaurare), the compensation made for the offence, and the expiation (piaculum) was held to be completed. This was indeed no absolution for a guilty conscience, for the forms prescribed dealt only with the outer act, and gave no promises of peace to minds diseased.

Often however no human eye had noted what was wrong, and it was left then for the gods to give their warnings through unearthly signs (prodigia). If the signs were given on private ground it rested with the owner of the land to set his house in order ; but if the place was public ground, then the portent was a matter for the State (publicum prodigium), who must accept the charge (suscipere), and take the needful steps through her officials (procurare prod.) to satisfy the gods and set the public mind at rest. Here again was a wide field opened for the action of the Pontiffs. Others might shudder only in their ignorant panic, but they must learn to recognize the voice which spoke in portents, must turn over their old books and profit by the inductions of the past, must be ready, if they only could, to provide the state with their Authorized Version of God's Word to man. For this purpose, after due scrutiny of evidence, and rejection of the ill-attested (quia sin. guli auctores erant Livy v. 15. 1), the prodigies were chronicled with care from year to year in the priestly records, from which Livy drew so largely for his history. To isolate them from each other might mislead the student, rather they must be regarded as the scattered phrases of the message sent from

« AnteriorContinuar »