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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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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 141

The Roman Capitalists in the Provinces

But still worse, if possible, and still less subject to any control was the havoc committed by the Italian men of business among the unhappy provincials. The most lucrative portions of the landed property and the whole commercial and monetary business in the provinces were concentrated in their hands. The estates in the transmarine regions, which belonged to Italian grandees, were exposed to all the misery of management by stewards, and never saw their owners; excepting possibly the hunting-parks, which occur as early as this time in Transalpine Gaul with an area amounting to nearly twenty square miles. Usury flourished as it had never flourished before.

The small landowners in Illyricum, Asia, and Egypt managed their estates even in Varro's time in great part practically as the debtor-slaves of their Roman or non-Roman creditors, just as the plebeians in former days for their patrician lords. Cases occurred of capital being lent even to urban communities at four per cent per month. It was no unusual thing for an energetic and influential man of business to get either the title of envoy(81) given to him by the senate or that of officer by the governor, and, if possible, to have men put at his service for the better prosecution of his affairs; a case is narrated on credible authority, where one of these honourable martial bankers on account of a claim against the town of Salamis in Cyprus kept its municipal council blockaded in the town-house, until five of the members had died of hunger.

81. This is the so-called "free embassy" (-libera legatio-), namely an embassy without any proper public commission entrusted to it.

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