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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


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

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 I - Marcus Lepidus and Quintus Sertorius


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Men of Ruined Fortunes - Men of Ambition

To all these sections of the opposition there was added the whole body of men of ruined fortunes. All the rabble high and low, whose means and substance had been spent in refined or in vulgar debauchery; the aristocratic lords, who had no farther mark of quality than their debts; the Sullan troopers whom the regent's fiat could transform into landholders but not into husbandmen, and who, after squandering the first inheritance of the proscribed, were longing to succeed to a second--all these waited only the unfolding of the banner which invited them to fight against the existing order of things, whatever else might be inscribed on it.

From a like necessity all the aspiring men of talent, in search of popularity, attached themselves to the opposition; not only those to whom the strictly closed circle of the Optimates denied admission or at least opportunities for rapid promotion, and who therefore attempted to force their way into the phalanx and to break through the laws of oligarchic exclusiveness and seniority by means of popular favour, but also the more dangerous men, whose ambition aimed at something higher than helping to determine the destinies of the world within the sphere of collegiate intrigues. On the advocates' platform in particular--the only field of legal opposition left open by Sulla--even in the regent's lifetime such aspirants waged lively war against the restoration with the weapons of formal jurisprudence and combative oratory: for instance, the adroit speaker Marcus Tullius Cicero (born 3rd January 648), son of a landholder of Arpinum, speedily made himself a name by the mingled caution and boldness of his opposition to the dictator.

Such efforts were not of much importance, if the opponent desired nothing farther than by their means to procure for himself a curule chair, and then to sit in it in contentment for the rest of his life. No doubt, if this chair should not satisfy a popular man and Gaius Gracchus should find a successor, a struggle for life or death was inevitable; but for the present at least no name could be mentioned, the bearer of which had proposed to himself any such lofty aim.

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