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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 5

It was no accidental catastrophe which patriotism and genius might have warded off; it was ancient social evils--at the bottom of all, the ruin of the middle class by the slave proletariate--that brought destruction on the Roman commonwealth. The most sagacious statesman was in the plight of the physician to whom it is equally painful to prolong or to abridge the agony of his patient. Beyond doubt it was the better for the interests of Rome, the more quickly and thoroughly a despot set aside all remnants of the ancient free constitution, and invented new forms and expressions for the moderate measure of human prosperity for which in absolutism there is room: the intrinsic advantage, which belonged to monarchy under the given circumstances as compared with any oligarchy, lay mainly in the very circumstance that such a despotism, energetic in pulling down and energetic in building up, could never be exercised by a collegiate board.

But such calm considerations do not mould history; it is not reason it is passion alone, that builds for the future. The Romans had just to wait and to see how long their commonwealth would continue unable to live and unable to die, and whether it would ultimately find its master and, so far as might be possible, its regenerator, in a man of mighty gifts, or would collapse in misery and weakness.

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