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 XII - Nationality, Religion, and Education


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 15

Carneades at Rome

It was accordingly only a natural result, that the first contact of Greek philosophy with the Roman nation equally firm in faith and adverse to speculation should be of a thoroughly hostile character. The Roman religion was entirely right in disdaining alike the assaults and the reasoned support of these philosophical systems, both of which did away with its proper character. The Roman state, which instinctively felt itself assailed when religion was attacked, reasonably assumed towards the philosophers the attitude which a fortress assumes towards the spies of the army advancing to besiege it, and as early as 593 dismissed the Greek philosophers along with the rhetoricians from Rome.

In fact the very first debut of philosophy on a great scale in Rome was a formal declaration of war against faith and morals. It was occasioned by the occupation of Oropus by the Athenians, a step which they commissioned three of the most esteemed professors of philosophy, including Carneades the master of the modern sophistical school, to justify before the senate (599). The selection was so far appropriate, as the utterly scandalous transaction defied any justification in common sense; whereas it was quite in keeping with the circumstances of the case, when Carneades proved by thesis and counter-thesis that exactly as many and as cogent reasons might be adduced in praise of injustice as in praise of justice, and when he showed in the best logical form that with equal propriety the Athenians might be required to surrender Oropus and the Romans to confine themselves once more to their old straw huts on the Palatine.

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 :