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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


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Page 35

In fact if Gracchus, as his words and still more his works plainly testify, aimed at the overthrow of the government of the senate, what other political organization but the -tyrannis- remained possible, after overthrowing the aristocratic government, in a commonwealth which had outgrown primary assemblies and for which parliamentary government did not exist? Dreamers such as was his predecessor, and knaves such as after-times produced, might call this in question; but Gaius Gracchus was a statesman, and though the formal shape, which that great man had inwardly projected for his great work, has not been handed down to us and may be conceived of very variously, yet he was beyond doubt aware of what he was doing.

Little as the intention of usurping monarchical power can be mistaken, as little will those who survey the whole circumstances on this account blame Gracchus. An absolute monarchy is a great misfortune for a nation, but it is a less misfortune than an absolute oligarchy; and history cannot censure one who imposes on a nation the lesser suffering instead of the greater, least of all in the case of a nature so vehemently earnest and so far aloof from all that is vulgar as was that of Gaius Gracchus. Nevertheless it may not conceal the fact that his whole legislation was pervaded in a most pernicious way by conflicting aims; for on the one hand it aimed at the public good, while on the other hand it ministered to the personal objects and in fact the personal vengeance of the ruler.

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