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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 II - Rule of the Sullan Restoration


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Page 69

But the ten years of the rule of the restoration after Sulla's death formed the golden age both for the buccaneers at sea and for bands of a similar character on land, above all in the Italian peninsula, which had hitherto been comparatively well regulated. The land could hardly be said any longer to enjoy peace. In the capital and the less populous districts of Italy robberies were of everyday occurrence, murders were frequent. A special decree of the people was issued--perhaps at this epoch-- against kidnapping of foreign slaves and of free men; a special summary action was about this time introduced against violent deprivation of landed property. These crimes could not but appear specially dangerous, because, while they were usually perpetrated by the proletariate, the upper class were to a great extent also concerned in them as moral originators and partakers in the gain.

The abduction of men and of estates was very frequently suggested by the overseers of the large estates and carried out by the gangs of slaves, frequently armed, that were collected there: and many a man even of high respectability did not disdain what one of his officious slave-overseers thus acquired for him as Mephistopheles acquired for Faust the lime trees of Philemon. The state of things is shown by the aggravated punishment for outrages on property committed by armed bands, which was introduced by one of the better Optimates, Marcus Lucullus, as presiding over the administration of justice in the capital about the year 676,(25) with the express object of inducing the proprietors of large bands of slaves to exercise a more strict superintendence over them and thereby avoid the penalty of seeing them judicially condemned. Where pillage and murder were thus carried on by order of the world of quality, it was natural for these masses of slaves and proletarians to prosecute the same business on their own account; a spark was sufficient to set fire to so inflammable materials, and to convert the proletariate into an insurrectionary army. An occasion was soon found.

25. These enactments gave rise to the conception of robbery as a separate crime, while the older law comprehended robbery under theft.

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