II.

THE ROMANS IN ROUMANIA.

(A.D. 106-274.)

THE Roman province of Dacia, which was constituted upon the ruins of the kingdom of Decebalus, was considerably larger than modern Roumania. For the Dacian realm had included Transylvania and other portions of what is now the Austro- Hungarian Dual Monarchy, and the circumference of the province was thirteen hundred miles. The fact is of more than antiquarian importance, for the so-called " Daco-Roumanian " movement, which has lately given so much trouble to Austrian statesmen, is based upon the racial and historical unity of the Roumanians of Transylvania and the Roumanians of the kingdom.

The ravages of war had decimated the natives, and in order to people so large an area it was necessary to import colonists from the Roman Empire. Trajan summoned to Dacia the veterans of his legions, the landless proletarians of Rome, the venturesome inhabitants of Spain and Gaul. Italy doubtless 19 20 THE ROMANS IN ROUMANIA. furnished the bulk of the immigrants, for at the present day the Roumanian language is closely akin to Latin. Some colonists were attracted by glowing reports of the Dacian gold mines, others expected to find their El Dorado in the administration of the new province. Lawyers and doctors were, of course, necessary to the civilisation of the "poor barbarians," and both professions were overcrowded at Rome. It is not necessary to assume, as some writers have done, that the Romans regarded Dacia much as our forefathers regarded Botany Bay, and that the ancestors of the present Roumanians were convicts. We can easily imagine that there would be a general rush for lands in the newly-conquered country, and possibly the first settlers were not drawn from the first families of the Imperial City. The new arrivals intermarried with the survivors of the Dacian race, and the offspring of these Daco-Roman alliances perpetuated the characteristics of both parents. Hence it is that after a period of sixteen centuries, we find the curious phenomenon of a nation speaking a "soft bastard Latin" of its own, and bearing in its life and in its history the traces of its Latin origin, yet separated by hundreds of miles from any other branch of the Latin race.

The peace, which followed the triumph of the Roman arms, assisted the amalgamation of the new and the old elements in the population. Those Dacians, who had left their country rather than live under the foreign yoke, gradually returned, when they saw that their fellow-countrymen were 21 ROMAN CULTURE IN DACIA. well treated by the conquerors. The famous edict of the Emperor Caracalla, which extended the citizenship of Rome to every inhabitant of the Empire, placed the "barbarian" on an equal footing with the true-born Roman in the eye of the law, and reconciled him to the loss of his independence. Commerce and agriculture flourished, new mines were opened, new towns rose with the rapidity of a western city in America. Palaces, roads, baths, all the usual appendages of Roman life, sprang into existence. Dacia merited the epithet of "blessed," which was ascribed to her on Roman medals; all over Roumania the indelible marks of the Roman occupation can be seen at this day. The Roman monuments in the academy at Bucharest show what a hold Latin civilisation had gained on the country during the 168 years of the Roman occupation. The national religion, which might have been a dangerous obstacle to the progress of Roman ideas, became merged in the elastic creed of the conquerors. The mysterious grotto of Zalmoxis was closed; the solemn banquets of his worshippers ceased; and Jupiter took the place of the Dacian deity in the religious life of the people. All over Dacia the language of the Romans was spoken before a generation had elapsed. It was not the Latin of Cicero or Tacitus, but the homely idiom of the populace and the peasantry, modified by an admixture of Dacian words. Much as in Gaul the Celtic idiom disappeared before the Latin, so in Roumania the conquerors introduced their own speech. A mediæal Pope fourteen hun 22 THE ROMANS IS ROUMANIA. dred years later remarked that the people of Wallachia "even now speak the Roman language;" and the German poet, Martin Opitz, who flourished early in the seventeenth century, describes them as "almost made on the Roman model." Those who are acquainted with Latin or Italian will even nowaclays find many familiar phrases in the Roumanian language. Apa (water) is practically the same as the Latin aqua and Italian acqua. Pane (bread) is the same in both Italian and Roumanian; auru (gold) is the Latin aurum; por.tu (harbour), the Latin portus; cina (supper), the Latin and Italian cena; mesa (table), the Latin mensa; vino (wine), verde (green), strada (street), and sera (evening), appear in precisely the same form in both languages- that of modern Rome and that of modern Roumania. Hundreds of words in daily use at Bucharest display their Latin origin in every letter, or else conceal it beneath the thinnest of disguises. The wonder is that, after such a long lapse of time, the language should have degenerated so little from its prototype.

The Dacians gradually lost, under the influence of Western civilisation, those fierce characteristics which had made them the terror of the provinces beyond the Danube. Occasionally, we hear of disturbances, and in one instance, during the reign of Antoninus Pius, of a serious revolt. But, generally speaking, after about the year 120, when Hadrian meditated the withdrawal of his legions from Dacia and the destruction of Trajan's bridge across the Danube, the Roman occupation was firmly established in the 23 FIRST GOTHIC INVASION. country. Hadrian's scheme of evacuation was due to his desire to keep the barbarians out of Moesia, and his successors for the next century and a half followed the alternative policy of making Dacia an outpost of the Empire against the attacks of savage hordes. Three great military roads, still visible in many places, united the principal towns of the province ; while a fourth, called by Trajan's name, traversed the depths of the Carpathians and entered Transylvania by the Turnu Rosa or Rothenthurm Pass. Two legions were usually stationed in Dacia, and their headquarters, together with the seat of government, were fixed at Apulum, the modern Karlsburg in Transylvania. On the ruins of the old Dacian capital of Sarmizegethusa rose the stately Roman town of Ulpia Trajana, whose memory is still preserved by a few carved stones and a heap of broken pillars.

With the advent of the third century the in- cursions of the barbarians became more threatening. Caracalla, about 212, defeated a horde of invaders, and erected as a trophy of victory the town of KarakaI, which still preserves his name. The "tower of Severus," Turnu-Severin, on the Danube, marks the defeat of the tribes of Quadi and Marcomanni a few years later. But a more deadly enemy now appeared upon the frontiers. In 247 we hear of the first invasion of the Goths. Some writers, relying on the similarity of the names, have put forward the theory that these Goths were none other than the Getæ or Dacians, the direct lineal descendants of the people, who had withdrawn 24 THE ROMANS IN ROUMANIA. from Dacia at the time of the Roman conquest. Byron has adopted it in the famous passage, where he calls upon the Goths to avenge the Dacian gladiator, "butchered to make a Roman holiday." The idea is picturesque, and it is in accordance with the requirements of poetic justice that the third and fourth generations of Roman colonists should suffer for their forefathers' deeds at the hands of a Dacian tribe. But there is no real proof of the hypothesis, and the connection between Goths and Getæ rests upon mere theory. From this year the old historians of Roumania date the decline of the province. At first, however, the Goths simply used Dacia as a stepping-stone to Mœsia, on the other side of the Danube, and did not tarry by the way. But they soon found the one province as attractive as the other, and between 247 and 268 there were six invasions, one of which cost a Roman Emperor his life. The shrewdest Romans already regarded their Dacian province as lost, and a Roman pretender attempted for a moment amid the general confusion to claim descent from Decebalus, and revive the Dacian kingdom in his own person. The scheme failed, and the great victory of the Emperor Claudius over the Goths at Naissus, the modern Nisch in Servia, in 269, while it rid Mœsia of their presence, left Dacia still at their mercy. The Roman legions, entrenched in the natural fastnesses of the Carpathians, could protect themselves, but were powerless to save the peaceful inhabitants of the plains. The next Emperor, Aurelian, resolved to evacuate the province, which he could no longer 25 EVACUATION OF DACIA. hold, and fall back upon the Danube as his first line of defence. About the year 274 the Roman garrisons withdrew across the river, and took with them all the Daco-Roman colonists who cared to follow them. South of the Danube, in parts of what are now Servia and Bulgaria, a new home preserved under the name of "Aurelian's Dacia," or Dacia Aureliani, the memory of the old. Dacia, north of the Danube, had been the last province to be added to the Roman Empire and the first to go. Yet the Roman influence had not ceased with the Roman occupation. Many of the inhabitants preferred to remain behind, dreading, in the phrase of Gibbon, "exile more than a Gothic master." They were no longer a military outpost of the Empire, but they were in a sense the pioneers of Latin culture among their barbarous rulers. For a brief space we shall see Dacia, north of the Danube, once more incorporated with the Empire; but it never entirely lost, even in the darkest ages, the enduring traces of the Latin race.