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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 VII - The Revolt of the Italian Subjects, and the Sulpician Revolution


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Page 63

The difficulty which the oligarchy felt in governing with the comitia was lessened rather than increased by the unlimited admission of the freedmen, who were to a very great extent personally and financially dependent on the ruling families and, if rightly used, might quite furnish the government with a means of controlling the elections more thoroughly than before.

This measure certainly, like every other political favour shown to the proletariate, ran counter to the tendencies of the aristocracy friendly to reform; but it was for Rufus hardly anything else than what the corn-law had been for Drusus--a means of drawing the proletariate over to his side and of breaking down with its aid the opposition against the truly beneficial reforms which he meditated.

It was easy to foresee that this opposition would not be slight; that the narrow-minded aristocracy and the narrow-minded bourgeoisie would display the same stupid jealousy after the subduing of the insurrection as they had displayed before its outbreak; that the great majority of all parties would secretly or even openly characterize the partial concessions made at the moment of the most formidable danger as unseasonable compliances, and would passionately resist every attempt to extend them.

The example of Drusus had shown what came of undertakingto carry conservative reforms solely in reliance on the majority of the senate; it was a course quite intelligible, that his friend who shared his views should attempt to carry out kindred designs in opposition to that majority and under the forms of demagogism. Rufus accordingly gave himself no trouble to gain the senate over to his views by the bait of the jury courts.

He found a better support in the freedmen and above all in the armed retinue--consisting, according to the report of his opponents, of 3000 hired men and an "opposition-senate" of 600 young men from the better class--with which he appeared in the streets and in the Forum.

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