The Roman World
The Roman World
"We hold a vaster Empire than has been." Such is the proud motto which was widely displayed by the British Empire, even on its postage-stamps, at a time not so very long ago when imperialism was a policy to glory in, not a source of grievance to other nations. Rome might have chosen a similar device. No Empire before hers had covered so vast an area, not even the Empire of the Persian Achæmenidæ, which had a shorter existence and included half desert regions with a scanty population. Alexander's cannot be considered, for it fell to pieces almost as soon as it was established, whereas the Empire of Rome preserved its unity and almost its whole extent for some three and a half centuries. The Arab invasions gave a vast dominion to Islam, but it was an ephemeral dominion shared between several caliphs. The Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages was merely a fiction outside the German bloc. As for the colonial conquests of more recent times, they have brought great, though scattered, territories under the rule of a single European State: some of them, peopled by emigrants, seem no more than fragments detached from the mother country; while others, that have resisted assimilation, present types of society in which there is a sharp contrast between master and subject. Such a colonizing State may set before itself the ideal of diminishing this contrast, but we have not yet seen Asiatics or Africans playing a leading part in the metropolis itself, whereas, even before Caracalla extended the right of citizenship to the whole Empire, the throne of the Cæsars had been occupied by the Spaniard Trajan and the Numidian Severus, while Syrian and Illyrian Emperors were to follow. As a prelude to complete fusion, Rome had at any rate welcomed the best provincials with open arms from the very beginning.
Moreover, this Roman Empire, like the Empire of the Achæmenidæ and the Russian State today, was geographically . . .