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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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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 XII - The Management of Land and of Capital


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Page 11

Nothing is more characteristic of the spirit of Cato and those who shared his sentiments than the way in which they inculcated the observance of the holiday in the letter, and evaded it in reality, by advising that, while the plough should certainly be allowed to rest on these days, the slaves should even then be incessantly occupied with other labours not expressly prohibited. On principle no freedom of movement whatever was allowed to them--a slave, so runs one of Cato's maxims, must either work or sleep--and no attempt was ever made to attach the slaves to the estate or to their master by any bond of human sympathy. The letter of the law in all its naked hideousness regulated the relation, and the Romans indulged no illusions as to the consequences. "So many slaves, so many foes," said a Roman proverb.

It was an economic maxim, that dissensions among the slaves ought rather to be fostered than suppressed. In the same spirit Plato and Aristotle, and no less strongly the oracle of the landlords, the Carthaginian Mago, caution masters against bringing together slaves of the same nationality, lest they should originate combinations and perhaps conspiracies of their fellow-countrymen. The landlord, as we have already said, governed his slaves exactly in the same way as the Roman community governed its subjects in the "country estates of the Roman people," the provinces; and the world learned by experience, that the ruling state had modelled its new system of government on that of the slave-holder.

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