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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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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 VIII - Law, Religion, Military System, Economic Condition, Nationality


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In actions regarding property, the decision as to what constituted possession, which hitherto had been left to the arbitrary caprice of the magistrate, was subjected gradually to legal rules; and, alongside of the law of property, a law of possession was developed--another step, by which the magisterial authority lost an important part of its powers. In criminal processes, the tribunal of the people, which hitherto had exercised the prerogative of mercy, became a court of legally secured appeal.

If the accused after hearing (-quaestio-) was condemned by the magistrate and appealed to the burgesses, the magistrate proceeded in presence of these to the further hearing (-anquisitio-) and, when he after three times discussing the matter before the community had repeated his decision, in the fourth diet the sentence was confirmed or rejected by the burgesses. Modification was not allowed.

A similar republican spirit breathed in the principles, that the house protected the burgess, and that an arrest could only take place out of doors; that imprisonment during investigation was to be avoided; and that it was allowable for every accused and not yet condemned burgess by renouncing his citizenship to withdraw from the consequences of condemnation, so far as they affected not his property but his person-principles, which certainly were not embodied in formal laws and accordingly did not legally bind the prosecuting magistrate, but yet were by their moral weight of the greatest influence, particularly in limiting capital punishment.

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