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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 49

The decline of the national vigour less admits of proof; but it is stated by the writers on agriculture that flesh and milk disappeared more and more from the diet of the common people. At the same time the slave population increased, as the free population declined. In Apulia, Lucania, and the Bruttian land, pastoral husbandry must even in the time of Cato have preponderated over agriculture; the half-savage slave-herdsmen were here in reality masters in the house. Apulia was rendered so insecure by them that a strong force had to be stationed there; in 569 a slave-conspiracy planned on the largest scale, and mixed up with the proceedings of the Bacchanalia, was discovered there, and nearly 7000 men were condemned as criminals.

In Etruria also Roman troops had to take the field against a band of slaves (558), and even in Latium there were instances in which towns like Setia and Praeneste were in danger of being surprised by a band of runaway serfs (556). The nation was visibly diminishing, and the community of free burgesses was resolving itself into a body composed of masters and slaves; and, although it was in the first instance the two long wars with Carthage which decimated and ruined both the burgesses and the allies, the Roman capitalists beyond doubt contributed quite as much as Hamilcar and Hannibal to the decline in the vigour and the numbers of the Italian people. No one can say whether the government could have rendered help; but it was an alarming and discreditable fact, that the circles of the Roman aristocracy, well-meaning and energetic as in great part they were, never once showed any insight into the real gravity of the situation or any foreboding of the full magnitude of the danger.

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