Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Constantinople Home Page  

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 50

But in all political questions the primary assembly in the Roman Forum remained alone entitled to act; and it is obvious at a glance, that this assembly was no longer, in its composition or in its collective action, what it had been when all the persons entitled to vote could exercise their privilege as citizens by leaving their farms in the morning and returning home the same evening. Moreover the government--whether from want of judgment, from negligence, or from any evil design, we cannot tell--no longer as formerly enrolled the communities admitted to the franchise after 513 in newly instituted election-districts, but included them along with others in the old; so that gradually each tribe came to be composed of different townships scattered over the whole Roman territory.

Election-districts such as these, containing on an average 8000--the urban naturally having more, the rural fewer --persons entitled to vote, without local connection or inward unity, no longer admitted of any definite leading or of any satisfactory previous deliberation; disadvantages which must have been the more felt, since the voting itself was not preceded by any free debate. Moreover, while the burgesses had quite sufficient capacity to discern their communal interests, it was foolish and utterly ridiculous to leave the decision of the highest and most difficult questions which the power that ruled the world had to solve to a well-disposed but fortuitous concourse of Italian farmers, and to allow the nomination of generals and the conclusion of treaties of state to be finally judged of by people who understood neither the grounds nor the consequences of their decrees.

In all matters transcending mere communal affairs the Roman primary assemblies accordingly played a childish and even silly part. As a rule, the people stood and gave assent to all proposals; and, when in exceptional instances they of their own impulse refused assent, as on occasion of the declaration of war against Macedonia in 554,(42) the policy of the market-place certainly made a pitiful opposition--and with a pitiful issue--to the policy of the state.

42. Cf. III. VIII. Declaration of War by Rome

Previous / First / Next Page of this Chapter

Do you see any typos or other mistakes? Please let us know and correct them

The History of Old Rome: Contents ||| The Medieval West | The Making of Europe | Constantinople Home Page

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Receive updates :

Learned Freeware

Reference address :