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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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Page 35

Development of Rome as A Great City

But while neither an opulent urban middle class nor a strictly close body of capitalists grew up in Rome, it was constantly acquiring more and more the character of a great city. This is plainly indicated by the increasing number of slaves crowded together in the capital (as attested by the very serious slave conspiracy of 335), and still more by the increasing multitude of freedmen, which was gradually becoming inconvenient and dangerous, as we may safely infer from the considerable tax imposed on manumissions in 397(37) and from the limitation of the political rights of freedmen in 450.(38)

37. Cf. II. III. Laws Imposing Taxes

38. Cf. II. III. The Burgess Body

For not only was it implied in the circumstances that the great majority of the persons manumitted had to devote themselves to trade or commerce, but manumission itself among the Romans was, as we have already said, less an act of liberality than an industrial speculation, the master often finding it more for his interest to share the profits of the trade or commerce of the freedman than to assert his title to the whole proceeds of the labour of his slave. The increase of manumissions must therefore have necessarily kept pace with the increase of the commercial and industrial activity of the Romans.

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