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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 VIII - The East and King Mithradates


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Granting that during the death-struggle of the republic it was easier to offer resistance to Rome than in the times of Scipio or Trajan, and that it was only the complication of the Asiatic events with the internal commotions of Italy which rendered it possible for Mithradates to resist the Romans twice as long as Jugurtha did, it remains nevertheless true that before the Parthian wars he was the only enemy who gave serious trouble to the Romans in the east, and that he defended himself against them as the lion of the desert defends himself against the hunter. Still we are not entitled, in accordance with what we know, to recognize in him more than the resistance to be expected from so vigorous a nature. But, whatever judgment we may form as to the individual character of the king, his historical position remains in a high degree significant.

The Mithradatic wars formed at once the last movement of the political opposition offered by Greece to Rome, and the beginning of a revolt against the Roman supremacy resting on very different and far deeper grounds of antagonism--the national reaction of the Asiatics against the Occidentals. The empire of Mithradates was, like himself, Oriental; polygamy and the system of the harem prevailed at court and generally among persons of rank; the religion of the inhabitants of the country as well as the official religion of the court was pre-eminently the old national worship; the Hellenism there was little different from the Hellenism of the Armenian Tigranids and the Arsacids of the Parthian empire.

The Greeks of Asia Minor might imagine for a brief moment that they had found in this king a support for their political dreams; his battles were really fought for matters very different from those which were decided on the fields of Magnesia and Pydna. They formed--after a long truce--a new passage in the huge duel between the west and the east, which has been transmitted from the conflicts at Marathon to the present generation and will perhaps reckon its future by thousands of years as it has reckoned its past.

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