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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


III. From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States

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 VI - The War under Hannibal from Cannae to Zama


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Page 67

When there was no longer money in the exchequer for the celebration of the national festivals and the repairs of the public buildings, the companies which had hitherto contracted for these matters declared themselves ready to continue their services for a time without remuneration (540). A fleet was even fitted out and manned, just as in the first Punic war, by means of a voluntary loan among the rich (544). They spent the moneys belonging to minors; and at length, in the year of the conquest of Tarentum, they laid hands on the last long-spared reserve fund (164,000 pounds).

The state nevertheless was unable to meet its most necessary payments; the pay of the soldiers fell dangerously into arrear, particularly in the more remote districts. But the embarrassment of the state was not the worst part of the material distress. Everywhere the fields lay fallow: even where the war did not make havoc, there was a want of hands for the hoe and the sickle. The price of the -medimnus- (a bushel and a half) had risen to 15 -denarii- (10s.), at least three times the average price in the capital; and many would have died of absolute want, if supplies had not arrived from Egypt, and if, above all, the revival of agriculture in Sicily(4) had not prevented the distress from coming to the worst.

4. Cf. III. VI. Sicily Tranquillized

The effect which such a state of things must have had in ruining the small farmers, in eating away the savings which had been so laboriously acquired, and in converting flourishing villages into nests of beggars and brigands, is illustrated by similar wars of which fuller details have been preserved.

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