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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 111

That those extravagant habits of the Roman world of quality rested throughout on credit, is shown by the fact that the monthly interest in Rome was once suddenly raised from four to eight per cent, through the borrowing of the different competitors for the consulship. Insolvency, instead of leading in due time to a meeting of creditors or at any rate to a liquidation which might at least place matters once more on a clear footing, was ordinarily prolonged by the debtor as much as possible; instead of selling his property and especially his landed estates, he continued to borrow and to present the semblance of riches, till the crash only became the worse and the winding-up yielded a result like that of Milo, in which the creditors obtained somewhat above four per cent of the sums for which they ranked.

Amidst this startlingly rapid transition from riches to bankruptcy and this systematic swindling, nobody of course gained so much as the cool banker, who knew how to give and refuse credit. The relations of debtor and creditor thus returned almost to the same point at which they had stood in the worst times of the social crises of the fifth century; the nominal landowners held virtually by sufferance of their creditors; the debtors were either in servile subjection to their creditors, so that the humbler of them appeared like freedmen in the creditor's train and those of higher rank spoke and voted even in the senate at the nod of their creditor-lord; or they were on the point of declaring war on property itself, and either of intimidating their creditors by threats or getting rid of them by conspiracy and civil war.

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