Hereafter there was another hunger to be appeased besides that for food and land; a hunger for conquest, for vengeance, and for glory for the Gallic name. National pride was born.
For years they hovered like wolves about Rome. But skill and superior intelligence tell in the centuries. It took long—and cost no end of blood and treasure; but two hundred years from the capture of Rome, the Gauls were driven out of Italy, and the Alps pronounced a barrier set by nature herself against barbarian encroachments.
Italy was not the only country suffering from the destroying footsteps of the Western Kelts. There had been long before an overflow of a tribe in Northern Gaul (the Kymrians), which had hewed and plundered its way south and eastward; until at the time of Alexander (B.C. 340) it was knocking at the gates of Macedonia.
Stimulated by the success at Rome fifty years earlier, they were, with fresh insolence, demanding “land,” and during the centuries which followed, the Gallic name acquired no fresh lustre in Greece. Half-naked, gross, ferocious, and ignorant, sometimes allies, but always a scourge, they finally crossed the Hellespont (B.C. 278), and turned their attention to Asia Minor. And there, at last, we find them settled in a province called Gallicia, where they lived without amalgamating with the people about them, and four hundred years after Christ were speaking the language of their tribal home in what is now Belgium. And these were the Galatians—the “foolish Galatians,” to whom Paul addressed his epistle; and we have followed up this Gallic thread simply because it mingles with the larger strand of ancient and sacred history with which we are all so familiar.
It is not strange that Roman courage became a byword. The fibre of Rome was toughened by perpetual strain of conflict. Even while she was struggling with Gaul and with the memories of the Carthaginian wars still fresh at Rome, the Goths were at her gates—their blows directed with a solidity superior to that of the barbarians who had preceded them. Where the Gauls had knocked, the Goths thundered.
Again the city was invaded by barbarian feet, and again did superior training and intelligence drive back the invading torrent and triumph over native brute force.
Such, in brief outline, was the condition of the centuries just before the Christian era.
It is easy now to read the meaning of these agitated centuries, and to recognize the preparation for the passing of the old and the coming of the new.
The making of a nation is not unlike bread or cake making. One element is used as the basis, to which are added other component parts, of varying qualities, and the result we call England, or Germany, or France. The steps by which it is accomplished, the blending and fusing of the elements, require centuries, and the process makes what we call—history.