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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 27

The ideas, which lay at the foundation of Caesar's work, were so far not strictly new; but to him belongs their realization, which after all is everywhere the main matter; and to him pertains the grandeur of execution, which would probably have surprised the brilliant projector himself if he could have seen it, and which has impressed, and will always impress, every one to whom it has been presented in the living reality or in the mirror of history--to whatever historical epoch or whatever shade of politics he may belong--according to the measure of his ability to comprehend human and historical greatness, with deep and ever-deepening emotion and admiration.

At this point however it is proper expressly once for all to claim what the historian everywhere tacitly presumes, and to protest against the custom--common to simplicity and perfidy--of using historical praise and historical censure, dissociated from the given circumstances, as phrases of general application, and in the present case of construing the judgment as to Caesar into a judgment as to what is called Caesarism. It is true that the history of past centuries ought to be the instructress of the present; but not in the vulgar sense, as if one could simply by turning over the leaves discover the conjunctures of the present in the records of the past, and collect from these the symptoms for a political diagnosis and the specifics for a prescription; it is instructive only so far as the observation of older forms of culture reveals the organic conditions of civilization generally-- the fundamental forces everywhere alike, and the manner of their combination everywhere different--and leads and encourages men, not to unreflecting imitation, but to independent reproduction. In this sense the history of Caesar and of Roman Imperialism, with all the unsurpassed greatness of the master-worker, with all the historical necessity of the work, is in truth a sharper censure of modern autocracy than could be written by the hand of man.

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