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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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Page 7

Want of Leaders - Coterie-Systems

The more everything ultimately depended on the personality of the leading men on both sides, it was the more unfortunate that both, strictly speaking, lacked leaders. The politics of thisperiod were thoroughly under the sway of the coterie-system in its worst form. This, indeed, was nothing new; close unions of families and clubs were inseparable from an aristocratic organizationof the state, and had for centuries prevailed in Rome. But it was not till this epoch that they became all-powerful, for it was only now (first in 690) that their influence was attested rather than checked by legal measures of repression.

All persons of quality, those of popular leanings no less than the oligarchy proper, met in Hetaeriae; the mass of the burgesses likewise, so far as they took any regular part in political events at all, formed according to their voting-districts close unions with an almost military organization, which found their natural captains and agents in the presidents of the districts, "tribe- distributors" (-divisores tribuum-). With these political clubs everything was bought and sold; the vote of the elector especially, but also the votes of the senator and the judge, the fists too which produced the street riot, and the ringleaders who directed it--the associations of the upper and of the lower ranks were distinguished merely in the matter of tariff. The Hetaeria decided the elections, the Hetaeria decreed the impeachments, the Hetaeria conducted the defence; it secured the distinguished advocate, and in case of need it contracted for an acquittal with one of the speculators who pursued on a great scale lucrative dealings in judges' votes.

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