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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 78

The earlier constitution was throughout based on it; even the reform of 513 had merely restricted the privileges of the men of wealth. But since that year there had occurred an immense financial revolution, which might well justify a raising of the electoral census. The new timocracy thus changed the letter of the constitution only to remain faithful to its spirit, while it at the same time in the mildest possible form attempted at least to check the disgraceful purchase of votes with all the evils therewith connected.

Lastly, the regulations in favour of debtors and the resumption of the schemes of colonization gave express proof that Sulla, although not disposed to approve the impetuous proposals of Sulpicius, was yet, like Sulpicius and Drusus and all the more far-seeing aristocrats in general, favourable to material reforms in themselves; as to which we may not overlook the circumstance, that he proposed these measures after the victory and entirely of his own free will.

If we combine with such considerations the fact, that Sulla allowed the principal foundations of the Gracchan constitution to stand and disturbed neither the equestrian courts nor the largesses of grain, we shall find warrant for the opinion that the Sullan arrangement of 666 substantially adhered to the status quo subsisting since the fall of Gaius Gracchus; he merely, on the one hand, altered as the times required the traditional rules that primarily threatened danger to the existing government, and, on the other hand, sought to remedy according to his power the existing social evils, so far as either could be done without touching ills that lay deeper.

Emphatic contempt for constitutional formalism in connection with a vivid appreciation of the intrinsic value of existing arrangements, clear perceptions, and praiseworthy intentions mark this legislation throughout. But it bears also a certain frivolous and superficial character; it needed in particular a great amount of good nature to believe that the fixing a maximum of interest would remedy the confused relations of credit, and that the right of previous deliberation on the part of the senate would prove more capable of resisting future demagogism than the right of veto and religion had previously been.

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