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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 37


One of the most important consequences of this mercantile spirit, which displayed itself with an intensity hardly conceivable by those not engaged in business, was the extraordinary impulse given to the formation of associations. In Rome this was especially fostered by the system already often mentioned whereby the government had its business transacted through middlemen: for from the extent of the transactions it was natural, and it was doubtless often required by the state for the sake of greater security, that capitalists should undertake such leases and contracts not as individuals, but in partnership. All great dealings were organized on the model of these state-contracts. Indications are even found of the occurrence among the Romans of that feature so characteristic of the system of association--a coalition of rival companies in order jointly to establish monopolist prices.(26)

26. In the remarkable model contract given by Cato (141) for the letting of the olive harvest, there is the following paragraph:--

"None [of the persons desirous to contract on the occasion of letting] shall withdraw, for the sake of causing the gathering and pressing of the olives to be let at a dearer rate; except when [the joint bidder] immediately names [the other bidder] as his partner. If this rule shall appear to have been infringed, all the partners [of the company with which the contract has been concluded] shall, if desired by the landlord or the overseer appointed by him, take an oath [that they have not conspired in this way to prevent competition]. If they do not take the oath, the stipulated price is not to be paid." It is tacitly assumed that the contract is taken by a company, not by an individual capitalist.

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