Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Constantinople Home Page  

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 X - The Sullan Constitution


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 71

We do not go too far when we assert that the long-undermined Roman commonwealth must have necessarily fallen to pieces, had not Sulla by his intervention in Asia and Italy saved its existence. It is true that the constitution of Sulla had as little endurance as that of Cromwell, and it was not difficult to see that his structure was no solid one; but it is arrant thoughtlessness to overlook the fact that without Sulla most probably the very site of the building would have been swept away by the waves; and even the blame of its want of stability does not fall primarily on Sulla. The statesman builds only so much as in the sphere assigned to him he can build.

What a man of conservative views could do to save the old constitution, Sulla did; and he himself had a foreboding that, while he might doubtless erect a fortress, he would be unable to create a garrison, and that the utter worthlessness of the oligarchs would render any attempt to save the oligarchy vain. His constitution resembled a temporary dike thrown into the raging breakers; it was no reproach to the builder, if some ten years afterwards the waves swallowed up a structure at variance with nature and not defended even by those whom it sheltered. The statesman has no need to be referred to highly commendable isolated reforms, such as those of the Asiatic revenue-system and of criminal justice, that he may not summarily dismiss Sulla's ephemeral restoration: he will admire it as a reorganization of the Roman commonwealth judiciously planned and on the whole consistently carried out under infinite difficulties, and he will place the deliverer of Rome and the accomplisher of Italian unity below, but yet by the side of, Cromwell.

Previous / First / Next Page of this Chapter

Do you see any typos or other mistakes? Please let us know and correct them

The History of Old Rome: Contents ||| The Medieval West | The Making of Europe | Constantinople Home Page

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Receive updates :

Learned Freeware

Reference address :