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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 XI - The Old Republic and the New Monarchy


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Page 105

The very rich Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus promised to twenty thousand soldiers four -iugera- of land each, out of his own property; the estate of Pompeius amounted to 70,000,000 sesterces (700,000 pounds); that of Aesopus the actor to 20,000,000 (200,000 pounds); Marcus Crassus, the richest of the rich, possessed at the outset of his career, 7,000,000 (70,000 pounds), at its close, after lavishing enormous sums on the people, 170,000,000 sesterces (1,700,000 pounds). The effect of such poverty and such riches was on both sides an economic and moral disorganization outwardly different, but at bottom of the same character.

If the common man was saved from starvation only by support from the resources of the state, it was the necessary consequence of this mendicant misery--although it also reciprocally appears as a cause of it--that he addicted himself to the beggar's laziness and to the beggar's good cheer. The Roman plebeian was fonder of gazing in the theatre than of working; the taverns and brothels were so frequented, that the demagogues found their special account in gaining the possessors of such establishments over to their interests. The gladiatorial games--which revealed, at the same time that they fostered, the worst demoralization of the ancient world--had become so flourishing that a lucrative business was done in the sale of the programmes for them; and it was at this time that the horrible innovation was adopted by which the decision as to the life or death of the vanquished became dependent, not on the law of duel or on the pleasure of the victor, but onthe caprice of the onlooking public, and according to its signal the victor either spared or transfixed his prostrate antagonist.

The trade of fighting had so risen or freedom had so fallen in value, that the intrepidity and the emulation, which were lacking on the battle fields of this age, were universal in the armies of the arena and, where the law of the duel required, every gladiator allowed himself to be stabbed mutely and without shrinking; that in fact free men not unfrequently sold themselves to the contractors for board and wages as gladiatorial slaves. The plebeians of the fifth century had also suffered want and famine, but they had not sold their freedom; and still less would the jurisconsults of that period have lent themselves to pronounce the equally immoral and illegal contract of such a gladiatorial slave "to let himself be chained, scourged, burnt or killed without opposition, if the laws of the institution should so require" by means of unbecoming juristic subtleties as a contract lawful and actionable.

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