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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 VI - Retirement of Pompeius and Coalition of the Pretenders


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Page 21

Neither the simple civil power, as Gaius Gracchus possessed it, nor the arming of the democratic party, such as Cinna though in a very inadequate fashion had attempted, was able to maintain a permanent superiority in the Roman commonwealth; the military machine fighting not for a party but for a general, the rude force of the condottieri--after having first appeared on the stage in the service of the restoration--soon showed itself absolutely superior to all political parties. Caesar could not but acquire a conviction of this amidst the practical workings of party, and accordingly he matured the momentous resolution of making this military machine itself serviceable to his ideals, and of erecting such a commonwealth, as he had in his view, by the power of condottieri.

With this design he concluded in 683 the league with the generals of the opposite party, which, notwithstanding that they had accepted the democratic programme, yet brought the democracy and Caesar himself to the brink of destruction. With the same design he himself came forward eleven years afterwards as a condottiere. It was done in both cases with a certain naivete--with good faith in the possibility of his being able to found a free commonwealth, if not by the swords of others, at any rate by his own. We perceive without difficulty that this faith was fallacious, and that no one takes an evil spirit into his service without becoming himself enslaved to it; but the greatest men are not those who err the least. If we still after so many centuries bow in reverence before what Caesar willed and did, it is not because he desired and gained a crown (to do which is, abstractly, as little of a great thing as the crown itself) but because his mighty ideal--of a free commonwealth under one ruler--never forsook him, and preserved him even when monarch from sinking into vulgar royalty.

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