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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 43

Cato the leader of the reform party expresses himself still more emphatically than the comedian. "Lending money at interest," he says in the preface to his treatise on agriculture, "has various advantages; but it is not honourable. Our forefathers accordingly ordained, and inscribed it among their laws, that the thief should be bound to pay twofold, but the man who takes interest fourfold, compensation; whence we may infer how much worse a citizen they deemed the usurer than the thief." There is no great difference, he elsewhere considers, between a money-lender and a murderer; and it must be allowed that his acts did not fall short of his words--when governor of Sardinia, by his rigorous administration of the law he drove the Roman bankers to their wits' end.

The great majority of the ruling senatorial order regarded the system of the speculators with dislike, and not only conducted themselves in the provinces on the whole with more integrity and honour than these moneyed men, but often acted as a restraint on them. The frequent changes of the Roman chief magistrates, however, and the inevitable inequality in their mode of handling the laws, necessarily abated the effort to check such proceedings.

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