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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 85

The Populace There

These evils arose in some measure necessarily from the very nature of a capital; others more accidental and perhaps still more grave were associated with them. There has never perhaps existed a great city so thoroughly destitute of the means of support as Rome; importation on the one hand, and domestic manufacture by slaves on the other, rendered any free industry from the outset impossible there. The injurious consequences of the radical evil pervading the politics of antiquity in general--the slave-system--were more conspicuous in the capital than anywhere else. Nowhere were such masses of slaves accumulated as in the city palaces of the great families or of wealthy upstarts.

Nowhere were the nations of the three continents mingled as in the slave-population of the capital-- Syrians, Phrygians and other half-Greeks with Libyans and Moors, Getae, and Iberians with the daily-increasing influx of Celts and Germans. The demoralization inseparable from the absence of freedom, and the terrible inconsistency between formal and moral right, were far more glaringly apparent in the case of the half or wholly cultivated--as it were genteel--city-slave than, in that of the rural serf who tilled the field in chains like the fettered ox. Still worse than the masses of slaves were those who had been de jure or simply de facto released from slavery-- a mixture of mendicant rabble and very rich parvenus, no longer slaves and not yet fully burgesses, economically and even legally dependent on their master and yet with the pretensions of free men; and these freedmen made their way above all towards the capital, where gain of various sorts was to be had and the retail traffic as well as the minor handicrafts were almost wholly in their hands. Their influence on the elections is expressly attested; and that they took a leading part in the street riots, is very evident from the ordinary signal by means of which these were virtually proclaimed by the demagogues--the closing of the shops and places of sale.

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