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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 XIII - Faith and Manners


The Original Greek New Testament

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 10

The National Religion and Unbelief

The extent to which the old simple faith still retained a living hold on the Italians is shown very clearly by the admiration or astonishment which this problem of Italian piety excited among the contemporary Greeks.

On occasion of the quarrel with the Aetolians it was reported of the Roman commander-in-chief that during battle he was solely occupied in praying and sacrificing like a priest; whereas Polybius with his somewhat stale moralizing calls the attention of his countrymen to the political usefulness of this piety, and admonishes them that a state cannot consist of wise men alone, and that such ceremonies are very convenient for the sake of the multitude.

Religious Economy

But if Italy still possessed--what had long been a mere antiquarian curiosity in Greece--a national religion, it was already visibly beginning to be ossified into theology. The torpor creeping over faith is nowhere perhaps so distinctly apparent as in the alterations in the economy of divine service and of the priesthood. The public service of the gods became not only more tedious, but above all more and more costly.

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