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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 50

The Domain Question Viewed in Itself

Let us endeavour to form a judgment regarding these momentous events. The appointment of an official commission, which had to counteract the dangerous diminution of the farmer-class by the comprehensive establishment of new small holdings from the whole Italian landed property at the disposal of the state, was doubtless no sign of a healthy condition of the national economy; but it was, under the existing circumstances political and social, suited to its purpose. The distribution of the domains, moreover, was in itself no political party-question; it might have been carried out to the last sod without changing the existing constitution or at all shaking the government of the aristocracy.

As little could there be, in that case, any complaint of a violation of rights. The state was confessedly the owner of the occupied land; the holder as a possessor on mere sufferance could not, as a rule, ascribe to himself even a bonafide proprietary tenure, and, in the exceptional instances where he could do so, he was confronted by the fact that by the Roman law prescription did not run against the state. The distribution of the domains was not an abolition, but an exercise, of the right of property; all jurists were agreed as to its formal legality.

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