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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 XIII - Literature and Art


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 44

His conception of relations is everywhere dreadfully jejune and destitute of imagination: his contemptuous and over-wise mode of treating religious matters is altogether offensive. The narrative, preserving throughout an intentional contrast to the usual Greek historiography with its artistic style, is doubtless correct and clear, but flat and languid, digressing with undue frequency into polemical discussions or into biographical, not seldom very self- sufficient, description of his own experiences.

A controversial vein pervades the whole work; the author destined his treatise primarily for the Romans, and yet found among them only a very small circle that understood him; he felt that he remained in the eyes of the Romans a foreigner, in the eyes of his countrymen a renegade, and that with his grand conception of his subject he belonged more to the future than to the present Accordingly he was not exempt from a certain ill-humour and personal bitterness, which frequently appear after a quarrelsome and paltry fashion in his attacks upon the superficial or even venal Greek and the uncritical Roman historians, so that he degenerates from the tone of the historian to that of the reviewer.

Polybius is not an attractive author; but as truth and truthfulness are of more value than all ornament and elegance, no other author of antiquity perhaps can be named to whom we are indebted for so much real instruction. His books are like the sun in the field of Roman history; at the point where they begin the veil of mist which still envelops the Samnite and Pyrrhic wars is raised, and at the point where they end a new and, if possible, still more vexatious twilight begins.

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