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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 XII - Nationality, Religion, and Education


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Page 12

Greek Philosophy

Let us endeavour first to trace the tendency associating itself with Hellenism. The Greek nation, which bloomed and faded far earlier than the Italian, had long ago passed the epoch of faith and thenceforth moved exclusively in the sphere of speculation and reflection; for long there had been no religion there--nothing but philosophy.

But even the philosophic activity of the Greek mind had, when it began to exert influence on Rome, already left the epoch of productive speculation far behind it, and had arrived at the stage at which there is not only no origination of truly new systems, but even the power of apprehending the more perfect of the older systems begins to wane and men restrict themselves to the repetition, soon passing into the scholastic tradition, of the less complete dogmas of their predecessors; at that stage, accordingly, when philosophy, instead of giving greater depth and freedom to the mind, rather renders it shallow and imposes on it the worst of all chains--chains of its own forging.

The enchanted draught of speculation, always dangerous, is, when diluted and stale, certain poison. The contemporary Greeks presented it thus flat and diluted to the Romans, and these had not the judgment either to refuse it or to go back from the living schoolmasters to the dead masters. Plato and Aristotle, to say nothing of the sages before Socrates, remained without material influence on the Roman culture, although their illustrious names were freely used, and their more easily understood writings were probably read and translated. Accordingly the Romans became in philosophy simply inferior scholars of bad teachers.

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