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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 51

But the attempt now to carry out these legal claims of the state was far from being politically warranted by the circumstance that the distribution of the domains neither infringed the existing constitution nor involved a violation of right. Such objections as have been now and then raised in our day, when a great landlord suddenly begins to assert in all their compass claims belonging to him in law but suffered for a long period to lie dormant in practice, might with equal and better right be advanced against the rogation of Gracchus.

These occupied domains had been undeniably in heritable private possession, some of them for three hundred years; the state's proprietorship of the soil, which from its very nature loses more readily than that of the burgess the character of a private right, had in the case of these lands become virtually extinct, and the present holders had universally come to their possessions by purchase or other onerous acquisition. The jurist might say what he would; to men of business the measure appeared to be an ejection of the great landholders for the benefit of the agricultural proletariate; and in fact no statesman could give it any other name.

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