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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 VII - The Subjugation of the West


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Page 130

Vercingetorix Executed

Five years afterwards he was led in triumph through the streets of the Italian capital, and, while his conqueror was offering solemn thanks to the gods on the summit of the Capitol, Vercingetorix was beheaded at its foot as guilty of high treason against the Roman nation. As after a day of gloom the sun may perhaps break through the clouds at its setting, so destiny may bestow on nations in their decline yet a last great man. Thus Hannibal stands at the close of the Phoenician history, and Vercingetorix at the close of the Celtic. They were not able to save the nations to which they belonged from a foreign yoke, but they spared them the last remaining disgrace--an inglorious fall.

Vercingetorix, just like the Carthaginian, was obliged to contend not merely against the public foe, but also and above all against that anti-national opposition of wounded egotists and startled cowards, which regularly accompanies a degenerate civilization; for him too a place in history is secured, not by his battles and sieges, but by the fact that he was able to furnish in his own person a centre and rallying-point to a nation distracted and ruined by the rivalry of individual interests. And yet there can hardly be a more marked contrast than between the sober townsman of the Phoenician mercantile city, whose plans were directed towards one great object with unchanging energy throughout fifty years, and the bold prince of the Celtic land, whose mighty deeds and high- minded self-sacrifice fall within the compass of one brief summer.

The whole ancient world presents no more genuine knight, whether as regards his essential character or his outward appearance. But man ought not to be a mere knight, and least of all the statesman. It was the knight, not the hero, who disdained to escape from Alesia, when for the nation more depended on him than on a hundred thousand ordinary brave men. It was the knight, not the hero, who gave himself up as a sacrifice, when the only thing gained by that sacrifice was that the nation publicly dishonoured itself and with equal cowardice and absurdity employed its last breath in proclaiming that its great historical death-struggle was a crime against its oppressor. How very different was the conduct of Hannibal in similar positions! It is impossible to part from the noble king of the Arverni without a feeling of historical and human sympathy; but it is a significant trait of the Celtic nation, that its greatest man was after all merely a knight.

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