Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897).djvu/57

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

placed on an entirely new basis by Mommsen and his school.[1] The Römisches Staatsrecht is a fabric for whose rearing was needed not only improved scholarship but an extensive Epigraphy collection of epigraphic material. The Corpus of Latin Inscriptions is the keystone of the work.

Hence Gibbon's first chapters are somewhat "out of date". But on the other hand his admirable description of the change from the Principate to absolute Monarchy, and the system of Diocletian and Constantine, is still most valuable. Here inscriptions are less illustrative, and he disposed of much the same material as we, especially the Codex Theodosianus. New light is badly wanted, and has not been to any extent forthcoming, on the respective contributions of Diocletian and Constantine to the organization of the new monarchy. Verona List of Provinces As to the arrangement of the provinces we have indeed a precious document in the Verona List (published by Mommsen), which, dating from 297 A.D., shows Diocletian's reorganization. The modifications which were made between this year and the beginning of the fifth century when the Notitia Dignitatum was drawn up, can be largely determined not only by lists in Rufus and Ammianus, but, as far as the eastern provinces are concerned, by the Laterculus of Polemius Silvius. Thus, partly by critical method applied to Polemius, partly by the discovery of a new document, we are enabled to rectify the list of Gibbon, who adopted the simple plan of ascribing to Diocletian and Constantine the detailed organization of the Notitia. Otherwise our knowledge of the changes of Diocletian has not been greatly augmented; but our clearer conception of the Principate and its steady development towards pure monarchy has reflected

  1. The first volume of Mr. Pelham's history of the Empire, which is expected shortly, will show, when compared with Menvale, how completely our knowledge of Roman institutions has been transformed within a very recent period.