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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 XI - The Government and the Governed


The Original Greek New Testament

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 38

The Provinces

But by far the most important institution which this epoch introduced into the Roman commonwealth, and that at the same time which involved the most decided and fatal deviation from the course hitherto pursued, was the new provincial magistracies. The earlier state-law of Rome knew nothing of tributary subjects: the conquered communities were either sold into slavery, or merged in the Roman commonwealth, or lastly, admitted to an alliance which secured to them at least communal independence and freedom from taxation.

But the Carthaginian possessions in Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain, as well as the kingdom of Hiero, had paid tribute and rent to their former masters: if Rome was desirous of retaining these possessions at all, it was in the judgment of the short-sighted the most judicious, and undoubtedly the most convenient, course to administer the new territories entirely in accordance with the rules heretofore observed. Accordingly the Romans simply retained the Carthagino-Hieronic provincial constitution, and organized in accordance with it those provinces also, such as Hither Spain, which they wrested from the barbarians. It was the shirt of Nessus which they inherited from the enemy.

Beyond doubt at first the Roman government intended, in imposing taxes on their subjects, not strictly to enrich themselves, but only to cover the cost of administration and defence; but they already deviated from this course, when they made Macedonia and Illyria tributary without undertaking the government or the guardianship of the frontier there. The fact, however, that they still maintained moderation in the imposition of burdens was of little consequence, as compared with the conversion of their sovereignty into a right yielding profit at all; the fall was the same, whether a single apple was taken or the tree was plundered.

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