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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


II. From the Abolition of the Monarchy in Rome to the Union of Italy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

CHAPTER III - The Equalization of the Orders, and the New Aristocracy


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Page 10

Attempts at Counterrevolution

The nobility, in spite of the most obstinate resistance, only sustained loss after loss; and their exasperation increased as their power decreased. Attempts were doubtless still made directly to assail the rights secured by agreement to the commons; but such attempts were not so much the well-calculated manoeuvres of party as the acts of an impotent thirst for vengeance. Such in particular was the process against Maelius as reported by the tradition--certainly not very trustworthy--that has come down to us.

Spurius Maelius, a wealthy plebeian, during a severe dearth (315) sold corn at such prices as to put to shame and annoy the patrician store-president (-praefectus annonae-) Gaius Minucius. The latter accused him of aspiring to kingly power; with what amount of reason we cannot decide, but it is scarcely credible that a man who had not even filled the tribunate should have seriously thought of sovereignty. Nevertheless the authorities took up the matter in earnest, and the cry of "King" always produced on the multitude in Rome an effect similar to that of the cry of "Pope" on the masses in England.

Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, who was for the sixth time consul, nominated Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who was eighty years of age, as dictator without appeal, in open violation of the solemnly sworn laws.(5)

5. Cf. II. II. The Valerio-Horatian Laws

Maelius, summoned before him, seemed disposed to disregard the summons; and the dictator's master of the horse, Gaius Servilius Ahala, slew him with his own hand. The house of the murdered man was pulled down, the corn from his granaries was distributed gratuitously to the people, and those who threatened to avenge his death were secretly made away with. This disgraceful judicial murder--a disgrace even more to the credulous and blind people than to the malignant party of young patricians--passed unpunished; but if that party had hoped by such means to undermine the right of appeal, it violated the laws and shed innocent blood in vain.

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