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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 8

In an abandoned age, when cowardice and insubordination had relaxed all the bonds of social order, the legitimate commonwealths might have taken a pattern from this state--the mongrel offspring of distress and violence--within which alone the inviolable determination to stand side by side, the sense of comradeship, respect for the pledged word and the self-chosen chiefs, valour and adroitness seemed to have taken refuge. If the banner of this state was inscribed with vengeance against the civil society which, rightly or wrongly, had ejected its members, it might be a question whether this device was much worse than those of the Italian oligarchy and the Oriental sultanship which seemed in the fair way of dividing the world between them.

The corsairs at least felt themselves on a level with any legitimate state; their robber-pride, their robber-pomp, and their robber-humour are attested by many a genuine pirate's tale of mad merriment and chivalrous bandittism: they professed, and made it their boast, to live at righteous war with all the world: what they gained in that warfare was designated not as plunder, but as military spoil; and, while the captured corsair was sure of the cross in every Roman seaport, they too claimed the right of executing any of their captives.

Its Military-Political Power

Their military-political organization, especially since the Mithradatic war, was compact. Their ships, for the most part -myopiarones-, that is, small open swift-sailing barks, with a smaller proportion of biremes and triremes, now regularly sailed associated in squadrons and under admirals, whose barges were wont to glitter in gold and purple. To a comrade in peril, though he might be totally unknown, no pirate captain refused the requested aid; an agreement concluded with any one of them was absolutely recognized by the whole society, and any injury inflicted on one was avenged by all.

Their true home was the sea from the pillars of Hercules to the Syrian and Egyptian waters; the refuges which they needed for themselves and their floating houses on the mainland were readily furnished to them by the Mauretanian and Dalmatian coasts, by the island of Crete, and, above all, by the southern coast of Asia Minor, which abounded in headlands and lurking-places, commanded the chief thoroughfare of the maritime commerce of that age, and was virtually without a master. The league of Lycian cities there, and the Pamphylian communities, were of little importance; the Roman station, which had existed in Cilicia since 652, was far from adequate to command the extensive coast; the Syrian dominion over Cilicia had always been but nominal, and had recently been superseded by the Armenian, the holder of which, as a true great-king, gave himself no concern at all about the sea and readily abandoned it to the pillage of the Cilicians.

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