THE ROMAN DECADENCE.
THE great service of the Roman Empire to the nations of Western Europe ultimately caused its own great weakness. It had brought the Gauls, the British, the Spaniards, and the west and south Germans within the pale of civilization, but it could not leaven so large a mass of population with its own culture without suffering a corresponding loss of vitality and without sacrificing the standards of perfection in literature, in art, and in public taste which it had either inherited or transferred from the older Greek culture of the eastern Mediterranean.
The history of the beginnings of the empire and its art is not a history of evolution or development (outside of politics) so much as it is a history of diffusion and of transfer. The arch with its borrowed Greek decorative adjuncts spread from Italy all over Western Europe (Fig. 36). The style of Roman-Greek sculpture was found in Hungary and in Britain (Figs. 33, 35), but there was a certain loss of quality involved in these transfers. The Roman Italian himself was a borrower, as we have seen, therefore he could not lend too lavishly to others without encroaching on his own resources. In the very beginnings of the empire the party of reaction against the policy of favoring the provincials had instinctively foreseen these results. Caesar was assassinated because he had admitted Gauls and Spaniards to the Roman Senate. In this policy