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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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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 V - The Peoples of the North


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Page 37

The Roman Opposition - Warfare of Prosecutions

If the torpid organism of the Roman polity could still of itself reach a crisis of wholesome reaction, that reaction could not but set in now, when, by one of the marvellous pieces of good fortune, in which the history of Rome is so rich, the danger was sufficiently imminent to rouse all the energy and all the patriotism of the burgesses, and yet did not burst upon them so suddenly as to leave no space for the development of their resources. But the very same phenomena, which had occurred four years previously after the African defeats, presented themselves afresh. In fact the African and Gallic disasters were essentially of the same kind.

It may be that primarily the blame of the former fell more on the oligarchy as a whole, that of the latter more on individual magistrates; but public opinion justly recognized in both, above all things, the bankruptcy of the government, which in its progressive development imperilled first the honour and now the very existence of the state. People just as little deceived themselves then as now regarding the true seat of the evil, but as little now as then did they make even an attempt to apply the remedy at the proper point.

They saw well that the system was to blame; but on this occasion also they adhered to the method of calling individuals to account--only no doubt this second storm discharged itself on the heads of the oligarchy so much the more heavily, as the calamity of 649 exceeded in extent and peril that of 645. The sure instinctive feeling of the public, that there was no resource against the oligarchy except the -tyrannis-, was once more apparent in their readily entering into every attempt by officers of note to force the hand of the government and, under one form or another, to overturn the oligarchic rule by a dictatorship.

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