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The Common People of Ancient Rome
Studies of Roman Life and Literature

written by "Abbott, Frank Frost, 1860-1924"
...t it in another way, if one politician won their support by giving them corn, why might not another increase his popularity by providing them with amusement and with the comforts of life? Presents of oil and clothing naturally follow, the giving of games and theatrical performances at the expense of the state, and the building of porticos and public baths. As the government and wealthy citizens assumed a larger measure of responsibility for the welfare of the citizens, the people became more and more dependent upon them and less capable of managing their own affairs. An indication of this change we see in the decline of local self-government and the assumption by the central administration of responsibility for the conduct of public business in the towns of Italy. This last consideration suggests another phase of Roman history which a study of paternalism would bring out—I mean the effect of its introduction on the character of the Roman people. The history of paternalism in Rome, when it is written, might approach the subject from several different points. If the writer were inclined to interpret history on the economic side, he might find the explanation of the change in the policy of the government toward its citizens in the introduction of slave labor which, under the Republic, drove the free laborer to the wall and made him look to the state for help, in the decline of agriculture, and the growth of capitalism. The sociologist would notice the drift of the people toward the cities and the sudden massing there of large numbers of persons who could not provide for themselves and in their discontent might overturn society. The historian who concerns himself with political changes mainly, would notice the socialistic legislation of the Gracchi and their political successors and would connect the growth of paternalism with the development of democracy. In all these explanations there would be a certain measure of truth. But I am...

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