Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Constantinople Home Page  

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 V - The Struggle of Parties During the Absence of Pompeius


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 3

A strange caricature of his ancestor--the gray-haired farmer whom hatred and anger made an orator, who wielded in masterly style the plough as well as the sword, who with his narrow, but original and sound common sense ordinarily hit the nail on the head--was this young unimpassioned pedant from whose lips dropped scholastic wisdom and who was everywhere seen sitting book in hand, this philosopher who understood neither the art of war nor any other art whatever, this cloud-walker in the realm of abstract morals. Yet he attained to moral and thereby even to political importance. In an utterly wretched and cowardly age his courage and his negative virtues told powerfully on the multitude; he even formed a school, and there were individuals--it is true they were but few--who in their turn copied and caricatured afresh the living pattern of a philosopher.

On the same cause depended also his political influence. As he was the only conservative of note who possessed if not talent and insight, at any rate integrity and courage, and was always ready to throw himself into the breach whether it was necessary to do so or not, he soon became the recognized champion of the Optimate party, although neither his age nor his rank nor his intellect entitled him to be so. Where the perseverance of a single resolute man could decide, he no doubt sometimes achieved a success, and in questions of detail, more particularly of a financial character, he often judiciously interfered, as indeed he was absent from no meeting of the senate; his quaestorship in fact formed an epoch, and as long as he lived he checked the details of the public budget, regarding which he maintained of course a constant warfare with the farmers of the taxes.

For the rest, he lacked simply every ingredient of a statesman. He was incapable of even comprehending a political aim and of surveying political relations; his whole tactics consisted in setting his face against every one who deviated or seemed to him to deviate from the traditionary moral and political catechism of the aristocracy, and thus of course he worked as often into the hands of his opponents as into those of his own party. The Don Quixote of the aristocracy, he proved by his character and his actions that at this time, while there was certainly still an aristocracy in existence, the aristocratic policy was nothing more than a chimera.

Previous / First / Next Page of this Chapter

Do you see any typos or other mistakes? Please let us know and correct them

The History of Old Rome: Contents ||| The Medieval West | The Making of Europe | Constantinople Home Page

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Receive updates :

Learned Freeware

Reference address :