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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


IV. The Revolution

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 II - The Reform Movement and Tiberius Gracchus


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Page 20

The difference between Italian and Sicilian slavery is very clearly apparent from the fact, that the slaves of the Mamertine community, which lived after the Italian fashion, were the only slaves who did not take part in the Sicilian servile revolt of 619-622.

The abyss of misery and woe, which opens before our eyes in this most miserable of all proletariates, may be fathomed by those who venture to gaze into such depths; it is very possible that, compared with the sufferings of the Roman slaves, the sum of all Negro sufferings is but a drop. Here we are not so much concerned with the hardships of the slaves themselves as with the perils which they brought upon the Roman state, and with the conduct of the government in confronting them. It is plain that this proletariate was not called into existence by the government and could not be directly set aside by it; this could only have been accomplished by remedies which would have been still worse than the disease.

The duty of the government was simply, on the one hand, to avert the direct danger to property and life, with which the slave-proletariate threatened the members of the state, by an earnest system of police for securing order; and on the other hand, to aim at the restriction of the proletariate, as far as possible, by the elevation of free labour. Let us see how the Roman aristocracy executed these two tasks.

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