was the solid foundation of the greatestrnand most benign empire the world hasrnever known. Modern Christians who railrnagainst the inhumanity of infanticide orrnsexual perversity in the ancient worldrnouglit to take a good look around themrnbefore presuming to quarrel with Gibbon’srnjudgment that the age of the Antoninesrnwas “the period in the history ofrnthe world during which the condition ofrnthe human race was most happy andrnprosperous.” hi that period the empirernreached its greatest extent, but so farrnfrom being a monolithic and top-heavyrnstate apparatus, the Roman empire was arnpatchwork of provinces, colonies, andrnalliances in which imperial power wasrnexerted largely to defend the inhabitantsrnfrom foreign invasion and to administerrna fairer legal system than the conqueredrnpeoples had ever known. The basis ofrnRoman power was the autonomous andrnquasi-sovereign household, and most ofrnthe everyday business of governmentrnwas carried on locally by local citizens.rnWhen Trajan wished to provide for poorrnchildren, he simply instructed local communitiesrnto buy enough land that wouldrnenable them to grow the necessary food,rnand while the empire flourished, itrnstayed out of personal life and most localrnbusiness. St. Paul paid a backhandedrncompliment to the pagans when he declaredrnthat whoever does not take care ofrnthe members of his own household isrnworse than an unbeliever.rnRoman citizenship was defined by liberty,rnnot by subjection. If fathers wouldrnnot whip their sons for fear of makingrnthem servile, the Roman authoritiesrncould not torture a citizen or invade hisrnhousehold on some petty pretext. Thisrnadmirable and humane system of governmentrndid not last forever. Unsettledrnby barbarian invasions and dynastic contests,rnthe rulers turned increasingly tornmilitary models and command structures.rnThe patria potestas was weakenedrnaround the edges, local governmentsrnwere more and more subordinate to thernimperial administration, and the conceptrnof active citizenship was degradedrnin direct proportion as citizenship wasrnextended to all parts of the Romanrnwodd. What had been, in the days ofrnPaul of Tarsus, a cherished prize to bernwon was reduced to an empty name likernthe term “American,” which only requiresrna piece of paper and a pair of bluernjeans. If it is too late for Americans to restorerntheir old republican notion ofrnAmerican citizenship, then it may berntime to examine the Roman alternative.rnEven under a Caligula or Nero, most Romanrncitizens were free to mind theirrnown business and govern their ownrnautonomous households, with little orrnno interference. The empire had slaves,rnyes, but it also had free men, and if wernno longer have slavery in name, we havernlong since given up liberty in fact.rnThomas Fleming is the editor ofrnChronicles.rnJohnson inrnHis Timernby Frank BrownlowrnDr. Johnson & Mr. Savagernby Richard HolmesrnNew York: Pantheon Books;rn260 pp., $23.00rnEvery well-read person used tornknow Johnson’s Lives of thernPoets, and, knowing that collection,rnknew who Richard Savage was—or atrnleast knew who Richard Savage toldrnpeople he was.rnRichard Savage was a minor poet andrnconvicted murderer, a charming rascalrnand rackety man about town entirelyrnlacking normal instincts of prudencernand self-preservation. Judged as materialrnfor a book, he was a striking examplernof the way life not only imitates fiction,rnbut can become virtually indistinguishablernfrom it. Savage claimed with obsessivernpertinacity to be the illegitimate sonrnof Eari Rivers and Anne, Lady Macclesfield.rnHe told everyone he met thatrnhis alleged mother had disowned andrnabused him, and over a period of aboutrn25 years he made her life miserable withrnlibel, blackmail, and the threat ofrnviolence. Written down and publishedrnby Savage and his friends, the storyrnacquired the convincing objectivity ofrnprint.rnSuch claims to identity, originating inrnthe paranoias and anxieties of life, arernfascinating. Passionately believed by thernclaimant and his supporters, they resist-rnTo order these books, (24hrs, 365 days)rnplease call (800) 962-6651 (Ext. 5200)rn”The Camp of the Saintsrnis one of the most disturbing novels of the late twentiethrncentury.” —Matthew Connelly and Paul KennedyrnThe Atlantic Monthly, December 1994rnBack in print:rnThe prophetic novel about thernend of the Western World, firstrnpublished in France in 1973.rn”Raspail’s book examines the core ofrnracism and the frightening monster ofrnoverpopulation. His symbolic prophecy isrnextreme… but mounting Third Worldrnpressure must be relieved or disaster canrnbe expected.rnLeslie SowersrnThe Houston PostrnPaperback, 311 pages VISA and MC Acceptedrn$9.95 plus $2.50 s&h Call: 1-800-352-4843rnFAX: (616) 347-1185 (Mich, residents add 6% sales tax)rnTHE SOCIAL CONTRACT PRESS • SWA E. Mitcliell St.* Petoskey, MI 49770rnMAY 199.5/37rnrnrn