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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 82

Disorganisation of Government

In the state, as in every organism, an organ which no longer discharges its functions is injurious. The nullity of the sovereign assembly of the people involved no small danger. Any minority in the senate might constitutionally appeal to the comitia against the majority. To every individual, who possessed the easy art of addressing untutored ears or of merely throwing away money, a path was opened up for his acquiring a position or procuring a decree in his favour, to which the magistrates and the government were formally bound to do homage.

Hence sprang those citizen-generals, accustomed to sketch plans of battle on the tables of taverns and to look down on the regular service with compassion by virtue of their inborn genius for strategy: hence those staff-officers, who owed their command to the canvassing intrigues of the capital and, whenever matters looked serious, had at once to get leave of absence -en masse-; and hence the battles on the Trasimene lake and at Cannae, and the disgraceful management of the war with Perseus. At every step the government was thwarted and led astray by those incalculable decrees of the burgesses, and as was to be expected, most of all in the very cases where it was most in the right.

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