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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 XII - Religion, Culture, Literature, and Art


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Page 82

In the character of an author, on the other hand, he stands quite as low as in that of a statesman. He essayed the most varied tasks, sang the great deeds of Marius and his own petty achievements in endless hexameters, beat Demosthenes off the field with his speeches, and Plato with his philosophic dialogues; and time alone was wanting for him to vanquish also Thucydides. He was in fact so thoroughly a dabbler, that it was pretty much a matter of indifference to what work he applied his hand. By nature a journalist in the worst sense of that term--abounding, as he himself says, in words, poor beyond all conception in ideas--there was no department in which he could not with the help of a few books have rapidly got up by translation or compilation a readable essay.

His correspondence mirrors most faithfully his character. People are in the habit of calling it interesting and clever; and it is so, as long as it reflects the urban or villa life of the world of quality; but where the writer is thrown on his own resources, as in exile, in Cilicia, and after the battle of Pharsalus, it is stale and emptyas was ever the soul of a feuilletonist banished from his familiar circles. It is scarcely needful to add that such a statesman and such a -litterateur- could not, as a man, exhibit aught else than a thinly varnished superficiality and heart-lessness. Must we still describe the orator?

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