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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 22


While the revolt thus spread after an alarming manner in the interior of the island, a second broke out on the west coast. It was headed by Athenion. He had formerly been, just like Cleon, a dreaded captain of banditti in his native country of Cilicia, and had been carried thence as a slave to Sicily. He secured, just as his predecessors had done, the adherence of the Greeks and Syrians especially by prophesyings and other edifying impostures; but skilled in war and sagacious as he was, he did not, like the other leaders, arm the whole mass that flocked to him, but formed out of the men able for warfare an organized army, while he assigned the remainder to peaceful employment.

In consequence of his strict discipline, which repressed all vacillation and all insubordinate movement in his troops, and his gentle treatment of the peaceful inhabitants of the country and even of the captives, he gained rapid and great successes. The Romans were on this occasion disappointed in the hope that the two leaders would fall out; Athenion voluntarily submitted to the far less capable king Tryphon, and thus preserved unity among the insurgents. These soon ruled with virtually absolute power over the flat country, where the free proletarians again took part more or less openly with the slaves; the Roman authorities were not in a position to take the field against them, and had to rest content with protecting the towns, which were in the most lamentable plight, by means of the militia of Sicily and that of Africa brought over in all haste.

The administration of justice was suspended over the whole island, and force was the only law. As no cultivator living in town ventured any longer beyond the gates, and no countryman ventured into the towns, the most fearful famine set in, and the town-population of this island which formerly fed Italy had to be supported by the Roman authorities sending supplies of grain. Moreover, conspiracies of the town- slaves everywhere threatened to break out within, while the insurgent armies lay before, the walls; even Messana was within a hair's breadth of being conquered by Athenion.

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