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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 IV - The Rule of the Restoration


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Page 19

The Second Sicilian Slave-War

But the chief seat of these fearful commotions was once more Sicily with its plantations and its hordes of slaves brought thither from Asia Minor. It is significant of the greatness of the evil, that an attempt of the government to check the worst iniquities of the slaveholders was the immediate cause of the new insurrection. That the free proletarians in Sicily were little better than the slaves, had been shown by their attitude in the first insurrection;(8) after it was subdued, the Roman speculators took their revenge and reduced numbers of the free provincials into slavery.

8. Cf. IV. II. Insurrections of the Slaves

In consequence of a sharp enactment issued against this by the senate in 650, Publius Licinius Nerva, the governor of Sicily at the time, appointed a court for deciding on claims of freedom to sit in Syracuse. The court went earnestly to work; in a short time decision was given in eight hundred processes against the slave-owners, and the number of causes in dependence was daily on the increase. The terrified planters hastened to Syracuse, to compel the Roman governor to suspend such unparalleled administration of justice; Nerva was weak enough to let himself be terrified, and in harsh language informed the non-free persons requesting trial that they should forgo their troublesome demand for right and justice and should instantly return to those who called themselves their masters. Those who were thus dismissed, instead of doing as he bade them, formed a conspiracy and went to the mountains.

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