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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


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

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Page 20

The objection of the pious believer, that the god of the Stoic had neither sex nor age nor corporeality and was converted from a person into a conception, had a meaning in Greece, but not in Rome. The coarse allegorizing and moral purification, which were characteristic of the Stoical doctrine of the gods, destroyed the very marrow of the Greek mythology; but the plastic power of the Romans, scanty even in their epoch of simplicity, had produced no more than a light veil enveloping the original intuition or the original conception, out of which the divinity had arisen--a veil that might be stripped off without special damage.

Pallas Athene might be indignant, when she found herself suddenly transmuted into the conception of memory: Minerva had hitherto been in reality not much more. The supernatural Stoic, and the allegoric Roman, theology coincided on the whole in their result. But, even if the philosopher was obliged to designate individual propositions of the priestly lore as doubtful or as erroneous--as when the Stoics, for example, rejecting the doctrine of apotheosis, saw in Hercules, Castor, and Pollux nothing but the spirits of distinguished men, or as when they could not allow the images of the gods to be regarded as representations of divinity--it was at least not the habit of the adherents of Zeno to make war on these erroneous doctrines and to overthrow the false gods; on the contrary, they everywhere evinced respect and reverence for the religion of the land even in its weaknesses.

The inclination also of the Stoa towards a casuistic morality and towards a systematic treatment of the professional sciences was quite to the mind of the Romans, especially of the Romans of this period, who no longer like their fathers practised in unsophisticated fashion self-government and good morals, but resolved the simple morality of their ancestors into a catechism of allowable and non-allowable actions; whose grammar and jurisprudence, moreover, urgently demanded a methodical treatment, without possessing the ability to develop such a treatment of themselves.

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