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HISTORICAL SKETCH OF JESUS AND THE
TINETEEN hundred years ago the whole civilized world
known to the ancients bowed beneath the sceptre of the Emperor of Rome. Everywhere from Britain to Æthiopia the Roman eagles had marked the track of victory. The Atlantic Ocean and the African desert had interposed impassable natural barriers to the West and South ; the Rhine and Danube formed a northern frontier against the Barbarians. In the East alone the invincible legions had been baffled, for the Parthian or new Persian monarchy contested with varying fortune of war the possession of the district of the Euphrates, and the wandering tribes of north-western Arabia were troublesome neighbors whom it was easy to defeat but impossible to subdue. For this reason Syria and Phænicia were generally occupied by a very considerable military force.
The whole of this enormous area was divided into provinces (conquered territories ) of Rome, and was ruled by governors. The only exception was furnished by Middle and Southern Italy ; for about a century before the commencement of our era the inhabitants of these districts, sword in hand, had extorted from the citizens of Rome the concession of equal rights, and now stood under the immediate government of the Roman Senate. But even in the East there were some few people who were still dignified with the name of allies, and allowed to retain their own princes as vassals of Rome. These people, though bound to pay tribute and serve in the army, still preserved the shadow of independence. Originally the title of Roman citizen was only allowed to a foreigner