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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 17

Euhemerism Not an Adequate Support

The historical version of the myths came far too rudely into collision with the popular faith, when it declared the gods directly to be men; Carneades called even their existence in question, and Epicurus denied to them at least any influence on the destinies of men. Between these systems and the Roman religion no alliance was possible; they were proscribed and remained so. Even in the writings of Cicero it is declared the duty of a citizen to resist Euhemerism as prejudicial to religious worship; and if the Academic and the Epicurean appear in his dialogues, the former has to plead the excuse that, while as a philosopher he is a disciple of Carneades, as a citizen and -pontifex- he is an orthodox confessor of the Capitoline Jupiter, and the Epicurean has even ultimately to surrender and be converted.

No one of these three systems became in any proper sense popular. The plain intelligible character of Euhemerism exerted doubtless a certain power of attraction over the Romans, and in particular produced only too deep an effect on the conventional history of Rome with its at once childish and senile conversion of fable into history; but it remained without material influence on the Roman religion, because the latter from the first dealt only in allegory and not in fable, and it was not possible in Rome as in Greece to write biographies of Zeus the first, second, and third.

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