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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 V - The Struggle of Parties During the Absence of Pompeius


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Page 38

Cicero would gladly have rejected the hazardous suggestion; indifferent as in itself the legal question might be to the advocate, he knew well how very useful it is to an advocate to be called liberal, and he showed little desire to separate himself for ever from the democratic party by shedding this blood. But those around him, and particularly his genteel wife, urged him to crown his services to his country by this bold step; the consul like all cowards anxiously endeavouring to avoid the appearance of cowardice, and yet trembling before the formidable responsibility, in his distress convoked the senate, and left it to that body to decide as to the life or death of the four prisoners.

This indeed had no meaning; for as the senate was constitutionally even less entitled to act than the consul, all the responsibility still devolved rightfully on the latter: but when was cowardice ever consistent? Caesar made every exertion to save the prisoners, and his speech, full of covert threats as to the future inevitable vengeance of the democracy, made the deepest impression. Although all the consulars and the great majority of the senate had already declared for the execution, most of them, with Cicero at their head, seemed now once more inclined to keep within the limits of the law. But when Cato in pettifogging fashion brought the champions of the milder view into suspicion of being accomplices of the plot, and pointed to the preparations for liberating the prisoners by a street-riot, he succeeded in throwing the waverers into a fresh alarm, and in securing a majority for the immediate execution of the transgressors.

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