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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 XI - The Commonwealth and its Economy


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Page 32

Money-Dealing and Commerce

The most brilliant, or rather the only brilliant, side of Roman private economics was money-dealing and commerce. First of all stood the leasing of the domains and of the taxes, through which a large, perhaps the larger, part of the income of the Roman state flowed into the pockets of the Roman capitalists. The money- dealings, moreover, throughout the range of the Roman state were monopolized by the Romans; every penny circulated in Gaul, it is said in a writing issued soon after the end of this period, passes through the books of the Roman merchants, and so it was doubtless everywhere.

The co-operation of rude economic conditions and of the unscrupulous employment of Rome's political ascendency for the benefit of the private interests of every wealthy Roman rendered a usurious system of interest universal, as is shown for example by the treatment of the war-tax imposed by Sulla on the province of Asia in 670, which the Roman capitalists advanced; it swelled with paid and unpaid interest within fourteen years to sixfold its original amount. The communities had to sell their public buildings, their works of art and jewels, parents had to sell their grown-up children, in order to meet the claims of the Roman creditor: it was no rare occurrence for the debtor to be not merely subjected to moral torture, but directly placed upon the rack.

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