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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 107

Still more irrational than these villa-palaces were the palatial sepulchres, several of which still existing at the present day attest what a lofty pile of masonry the rich Roman needed in order that he might die as became his rank. Fanciers of horses and dogs too were not wanting; 24,000 sesterces (240 pounds) was no uncommon price for a showy horse. They indulged in furniture of fine wood--a table of African cypress-wood cost 1,000,000 sesterces (10,000 pounds); in dresses of purple stuffs or transparent gauzes accompanied by an elegant adjustment of their folds before the mirror--the orator Hortensius is said to have brought an action of damages against a colleague because he ruffled his dress in a crowd; in precious stones and pearls, which first at this period took the place of the far more beautiful and more artistic ornaments of gold--it was already utter barbarism, when at the triumph of Pompeius over Mithradates the image of the victor appeared wrought wholly of pearls, and when the sofas and the shelves in the dining-hall were silver-mounted and even the kitchen-utensils were made of silver.

In a similar spirit the collectors of this period took out the artistic medallions from the old silver cups, to set them anew in vessels of gold. Nor was there any lack of luxury also in travelling. "When the governor travelled," Cicero tells us as to one of the Sicilian governors, "which of course he did not in winter, but only at the beginning of spring-- not the spring of the calendar but the beginning of the season of roses-- he had himself conveyed, as was the custom with the kings of Bithynia, in a litter with eight bearers, sitting on a cushion of Maltese gauze stuffed with rose-leaves, with one garland on his head, and a second twined round his neck, applying to his nose a little smelling bag of fine linen, with minute meshes, filled with roses; and thus he had himself carried even to his bed chamber."

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