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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 X - Brundisium, Ilerda, Pharsalus, and Thapsus


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Page 89

The Aristocracy after the Battle of Pharsalus

In the same way as the client communities submitted to the victor of Pharsalus, the tail of the constitutional party--all who had joined it with half a heart or had even, like Marcus Cicero and his congeners, merely danced around the aristocracy like the witches around the Brocken--approached to make their peace with the new monarch, a peace accordingly which his contemptuous indulgence readily and courteously granted to the petitioners. But the flower of the defeated party made no compromise. All was over with the aristocracy; but the aristocrats could never become converted to monarchy. The highest revelations of humanity are perishable; the religion once true may become a lie, the polity once fraught with blessing may become a curse; but even the gospel that is past still finds confessors, and if such a faith cannot remove mountains like faith in the living truth, it yet remains true to itself down to its very end, and does not depart from the realm of the living till it has dragged its last priests and its last partisans along with it, and a new generation, freed from those shadows of the past and the perishing, rules over a world that has renewed its youth.

So it was in Rome. Into whatever abyss of degeneracy the aristocratic rule had now sunk, it had once been a great political system; the sacred fire, by which Italy had been conquered and Hannibal had been vanquished, continued to glow--although somewhat dimmed and dull--in the Roman nobility so long as that nobility existed, and rendered a cordial understanding between the men of the old regime and the new monarch impossible. A large portion of the constitutional party submitted at least outwardly, and recognized the monarchy so far as to accept pardon from Caesar and to retire as much as possible into private life; which, however, ordinarily was not done without the mental reservation of thereby preserving themselves for a future change of things. This course was chiefly followed by the partisans of lesser note; but the able Marcus Marcellus, the same who had brought about the rupture with Caesar,(35) was to be found among these judicious persons and voluntarily banished himself to Lesbos.

35. Cf. V. IX. Passive Resistance of Caesar

In the majority, however, of the genuine aristocracy passion was more powerful than cool reflection; along with which, no doubt, self-deceptions as to success being still possible and apprehensions of the inevitable vengeance of the victor variously co-operated.

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