Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (30 November 1817 – 1 November 1903) was a German classical scholar, jurist and historian, generally regarded as the greatest classicist of the 19th century. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1902, and was also a prominent German politician, as a member of the Prussian and German parliaments.
- While the Macedonians proper on the lower course of the Haliacmon (Vistritza) and the Axius (Vardar), as far as the Strymon, were an originally Greek stock, whose diversity from the more southern Hellenes had no further significance for the present epoch, and while the Hellenic colonization embraced within its sphere both coasts -on the west with Apollonia and Dyrrachium, on the east in particular with the townships of the Chalcidian peninsula - the interior of the province, on the other hand, was filled with a confused mass of non-Greek peoples,[...] The Greek cities, which the Romans found existing, retained their organisation and their rights; Thessalonica, the most considerable of them, also freedom and autonomy. There existed a League and a Diet ('koinon') of the Macedonian towns, similar to those in Achaia and Thessaly. It deserves mention, as an evidence of the continued working of the memories of the old and great times, that still in the middle of the third century after Christ the diet of Macedonia and individual Macedonian towns issued coins on which, in place of the head and name of the reigning emperor, came those of Alexander the Great. The pretty numerous colonies of Roman burgesses which Augustus established in Macedonia, Byllis not far from Apollonia, Dyrrachium on the Adriatic, on the other coast Dium, Pella, Cassandreia, in the region of Thrace proper Philippi, were all of them older Greek towns, which obtained merely a number of new burgesses and a different legal position, and were called into life primarily by the need of providing quarters in a civilised and not greatly populous province for Italian soldiers who had served their time, and for whom there was no longer room in Italy itself. The granting of Italian rights certainly took place only to gild for the veterans their settlement abroad. That it was never intended to draw Macedonia into a development of Italian culture is evinced, apart from all else, by the fact that Thessalonica remained Greek and the capital of the country.
- The Provinces of the Roman Empire, vol.1, translated by W.P.Dickson, from the 1909 edition (Chicago, Ares Publishers, 1974), pp. 299–301.
The History of Rome 1854-6
- The Mediterranean Sea with its various branches, penetrating far into the great Continent, forms the largest gul of the ocean, and, alternately narrowed by islands or projections of the land and expanding to considerable breadth, at once separates and connects the three divisions of the Old World. The shores of this inland sea were in ancient times peopled by various nations, belonging in an ehtno-graphical and philological point of view to different races, but constituting in their historical aspect one whole. This historic whole has been usuallyo, but not very appropriately, entitled the history of the ancient world. It is in reality the history of the civilization among the Mediterranean nations; and as it passes before us in its successessive stages, it presents four great phases of development, - the history of the Coptic or Egyptian stock dwelling on the southern shore, the history of the Aramaean or Syrian Nation, which occupied the east coast and extended into the interior of Asia as far as the Euphrates and Tigris, and the histories of the twin-peoples, the Hellenes and the Italians, who received as their heritage the countries bordering on its European shores. Each of these histories was in its earlier stages connected with other regions and with other cycles of historical evolution, but each soon entered on its own peculiar career. The surrounding nations of alien or even of kindred extraction, - the Berbers and Negroes of Africa, the Arabs and Persians, and Indians of Asia, the Celts and Germs of Europe, - came into manifold contact with the peoples inhabiting the borders of the Mediterranean, but they neither imparted unto them nor received from them any influences of really decisive effect upon their respective destinies. So far, therefore, as cycles of culture admit of demarcation at all, we may regard that cycle as a unity which has its culminating points denoted by the names Thebes, Carthage, Athens, and Rome. The four nations represented by these names, after each of them had attained in a path of its own peculiar and noble civilization, mingled with one another in the most varied relations of reciprocal intercourse, and skilfully elaborated and richly developed all the elements of human nature. At length their cycle as accomplished. New peoples who hitherto had onled laved the territories of the states of the Meterranean, as waves lave the beach, overflowed both shores, severed the history of its south coast from that of the north, and transferred the centre of civilization from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean. The distinction between ancient and modern history, therefore, is no mere accident, nor yet a mere matter of chronological convenience. What is called modern history is in reality the formation of a new cycle of culture, connected at several epochs of its development with the perishing or perished civilization of the mediterranean states, as that was connected with the primitive civilization of the Indo-Germanic stock, but destined, like that earlier cycle, to traverse an orbit of its own. It too is destined to experience in full measure the vicissitudes of national weal and woe, period of growth, of full vigour, and of age, the blessedness of creative effort, in religion, polity, and art, the comfort of enjoying the material and intellectual acquisitions it has won, perhaps also, some day, the decay of productive power in the satiety of contentment with the goal attained. But that goal too will only be temporary: the grandest system of civilization has its orbit, and may complete its course; but not so the human race, to which, even when it seems to have attained its goal, the old task is ever set anew with a wider range and with a deeper meaning.
- Vol. 1, pt. 1, translated by W.P.Dickson.
- Introductory Paragraph
- The strict conception of the unity and omnipotence of the state in all matters pertaining to it, which was the central principle of the Italian constitutions, placed in the hands of the single president nominated for life a formidable power, which was felt doubtless by the enemies of the land, but was not less heavily felt by its citizens. Abuse and oppression could not fail to ensue, and, as a necessary consequence, efforts were made to lessen that power. It was, however, the grand distinction of the endeavours after reform and the revolutions in Rome, that there was no attempt either to impose limitations on the community as such or even to deprive it of corresponding organs of expression—that there never was any endeavour to assert the so-called natural rights of the individual in contradistinction to the community—that, on the contrary, the attack was wholly directed against the form in which the community was represented. From the times of the Tarquins down to those of the Gracchi the cry of the party of progress in Rome was not for limitation of the power of the state, but for limitation of the power of the magistrates: nor amidst that cry was the truth ever forgotten, that the people ought not to govern, but to be governed.
- Vol. 2. Translated by W.P.Dickson
- Introductory Paragraph to the Second Volume. On the Abolition of the monarchy and the formation of the Republic. The first magistrates of the republic and the conceptualization of the relationship between the magistrates and the body of citizens.
- On the abolition of the Macedonian monarchy, the supremacy of Rome was not only an established fact from the pillars of hercules to the mouths of the nile and the orontes, but, as if it were the final decree of fate, pressed on the nations with all the weight of an inevitable necessity, and seemed to leave them merely the choice of perishing in hopeless resistance or in hopeless endurance. If history were not entitled to insist that the earnest reader should accompany her through good and evil days, through landscapes of winter as well as of spring, the historian might be tempted to shun the cheerless task of tracing the manifold and yet monotonous turns of this struggle between power and weakness, both in the Spanish provinces already annexed to the Roman empire and in the African, Hellenic, and the Asiatic territories which were still treated as clients of Rome. But, however unimportant and subordinate the individual conflicts may appear, they possess collectively a deep historical significance; and, in particular, the state of things in Italy at this period is only intelligible in the light of the reaction which the provinces exercised over the mother-country.
- Vol. 3, pg. 1, translated by W.P. Dickson
- An independent state does not pay too dear for its independence in accepting the sufferings of war when it cannot avoid them
- Vol. 3, pg. 20, translated by W.P. Dickson
- It is no easy task for a state any more than for a man to become reconciled to insignificance; it is the duty and right of the ruler either to renounce his authority, or by the display of an imposing material superiority to compel the ruled to resignation.
- Vol. 3, pg. 21, translated by W.P. Dickson
- For a whole generation after the battle of Pydna the Roman state enjoyed a profound calm, scarcely varied by a ripple here and there on the surface. Its dominion extended over three continents; the lustre of the Roman power and the glory of the Roman name were constantly on the increase; all eyes rested on Italy, all talents and all riches flowed thither; it seemed as if a golden afe of peaceful prosperity and intellectual enjoyment of life had there begun. The Orientals of this period told each other with astonishment of the might republic of the West,'which subdued kingdoms far and near, so that everyone who heard its name trembled; but which kept good faith with its friends and clients. Such was the glory of the Romans, and yet no one usurped the crown and no one glittered in purple dress; but they obeyed whomsoever from year to year they made their master, and there was among them neither envy nor discord.'So it seemed at a distance; matters wore a different aspect on a closer view. The government of the aristocracy was in full train to destroy its own work. Not that the sons and grandsons of the vanquished at Cannae and Zama had so utterly defenerated from their fathers and grandfathers; the difference was not so much in the men who now sat in the Senate as in the times. Where a limited number of old families of established wealth and hereditary political importance conducts the government, it will display in seasons of danger an incomparable tenacity of purpose and power of heroic self-sacrifice, just as in seasons of tranquillity it will be short-sighted, selfish, and negligent; the germs of both results are essentially involved in its hereditary and collegiate character. The morbid matter had been long in existence, but it needed the sun of prosperity to develop it. There was a profound meaning in the question of Cato, "What was to become of Rome, when she should no longer have any state to fear?" that point had now been reached. Every neighbor whom she might have feared was politically annihilated; and of the men, who had been reared under the older order of things in the severe school of the hannibalic war, and whose words still sounded as echoes of that mighty epoch so long as they survived, death called on after another away, till at length the voice of the last of them, the Veteran Cato, ceased to be heard in the Senate-house and in the Forum. A younger generation came to the helm, and their policy was a sorry answer to that of the question of the veteran patriot. We have already spoken the shape which the government of the subjects and external policy of rome assumed in their hands. In internal affairs they were, if possible, still more disposed to let the ship drive before the wind: if we understand by internal government more than the transaction of current business, there was at this period no government in Rome at all. The single leading thought of the governing corporation was the maintenance and, if possible, the increase of their usurpsed privileges. It was not the state that had a title to get the right and the best man for its supreme magistracy; but every member of the coterie had an inborn title to the highest office of the state - a title not to be prejudiced by the unfair rivalry of his peers or by the encroachments of the excluded. Accordingly the clique proposed to itself as its most important political aim, the restriction of reelection to the consulship and the exclusion of "new men;" and in fact succeeded in obtaining the legal prohibition of the former about (165) and contented itself with a government of atristocratic nobodies. Even the inaction of the government in its outward relations was doubless connected with this policy of the nobility, exclusive towards commoners, and distrustful towards the individual members of their own order. By no surer means could they keep commoners, whose deeds were their patent of nobility, aloof from the pure circles of the aristocracy than by giving no opportunity to any one to perform deeds at all...
- Vol 3, Pg 71-73, Translated by W.P. Dickson
- On the Roman government before the Ghracci brothers and the spread of decay within it.
- He (Gauis Gracchus) was a political incendiary. Not only was the hundred years' revolution which dates from him, so far as it was one man's work, the work of Gaius Gracchus, but he was above all the true founder of that terrible civic proletariate flattered and paid by the classes above it, which was through it aggregation in the capital - the natural consequence of the largesses of corn - at once utterly demoralized and made concious of its power, and which - with its pretensions, sometimes stupid, sometimes knavish, and its talk of the sovereignty of the people - lay like an incubus for five hundred years upon the Roman commonwealth and only perished along with it. And yet again, this greatest of political transgressors was the regenerator of his country. There is scarce a fruitful idea in Roman monarchy, which is no traceable to Gaius Gracchus.
- It is true that to one who was a rustic and a soldier the political proceedings of the capital were strange and incongruous: he spoke as ill as he commanded well, and displayed a far firmer bearing in the presence of the lances and swords of the enemey than in presense of the applause or hisses of the multitude; but his inclincations were of little moment. The hopes of which he was the object constrained him.
- Vol. 3, translated by W.P.Dickson
- on Gaius Marius
- Of greater importance than this regulation of African clientship were
the political consequences of the Jugurthine war or rather of the Jugurthine insurrection, although these have been frequently estimated too highly. Certainly all the evils of the government were therein brought to light in all their nakedness; it was now not merely notorious but, so to speak, judicially established, that among the governing lords of Rome everything was treated as venal--the treaty of peace and the right of intercession, the rampart of the camp and the life of the soldier; the African had said no more than the simple truth, when on his departure from Rome he declared that, if he had only gold enough, he would undertake to buy the city itself. But the whole external and internal government of this period bore the same stamp of miserable baseness. In our case the accidental fact, that the war in Africa is brought nearer to us by means of better accounts than the other contemporary military and political events, shifts the true perspective; contemporaries learned by these revelations nothing but what everybody knew long before and every intrepid patriot had long been in a position to support by facts. The circumstance, however, that they were now furnished with some fresh, still stronger and still more irrefutable, proofs of the baseness of the restored senatorial government--a baseness only surpassed by its incapacity--might have been of importance, had there been an opposition and a public opinion with which the government would have found it necessary to come to terms. But this war had in fact exposed the corruption of the government no less than it had revealed the utter nullity of the opposition. It was not possible to govern worse than the restoration governed in the years 637-645; it was not possible to stand forth more defenceless and forlorn than was the Roman senate in 645: had there been in Rome a real opposition, that is to say, a party which wished and urged a fundamental alteration of the constitution, it must necessarily have now made at least an attempt to overturn the restored senate. No such attempt took place; the political question was converted into a personal one, the generals were changed, and one or two useless and unimportant people were banished. It was thus settled, that the so-called popular party as such neither could nor would govern; that only two forms of government were at all possible in Rome, a -tyrannis- or an oligarchy; that, so long as there happened to be nobody sufficiently well known, if not sufficiently important, to usurp the regency of the state, the worst mismanagement endangered at the most individual oligarchs, but never the oligarchy; that on the other hand, so soon as such a pretender appeared, nothing was easier than to shake the rotten curule chairs. In this respect the coming forward of Marius was significant, just because it was in itself so utterly unwarranted. If the burgesses had stormed the senate-house after the defeat of Albinus, it would have been a natural, not to say a proper course; but after the turn which Metellus had given to the Numidian war, nothing more could be said of mismanagement, and still less of danger to the commonwealth, at least in this respect; and yet the first ambitious officer who turned up succeeded in doing that with which the older Africanus had once threatened the government,(16) and procured for himself one of the principal military commands against the distinctly- expressed will of the governing body. Public opinion, unavailing in the hands of the so-called popular party, became an irresistible weapon in the hands of the future king of Rome. We do not mean to say that Marius intended to play the pretender, at least at the time when he canvassed the people for the supreme command in Africa; but, whether he did or did not understand what he was doing, there was evidently an end of the restored aristocratic government when the comitial machine began to make generals, or, which was nearly the same thing, when every popular officer was able in legal fashion to nominate himself as general. Only one new element emerged in these preliminary crises; this was the introduction of military men and of military power into the political revolution. Whether the coming forward of Marius would be the immediate prelude of a new attempt to supersede the oligarchy by the -tyrannis-, or whether it would, as in various similar cases, pass away without further consequence as an isolated encroachment on the prerogative of the government, could not yet be determined; but it could well be foreseen that, if these rudiments of a second -tyrannis- should attain any development, it was not a statesman like Gaius Gracchus, but an officer that would become its head. The contemporary reorganization of the military system--which Marius introduced when, in forming his army destined for Africa, he disregarded the property-qualification hitherto required, and allowed even the poorest burgess, if he was otherwise serviceable, to enter the legion as a volunteer--may have been projected by its author on purely military grounds; but it was none the less on that account a momentous political event, that the army was no longer, as formerly, composed of those who had much, no longer even, as in the most recent times, composed of those who had something, to lose, but became gradually converted into a host of people who had nothing but their arms and what the general bestowed on them. The aristocracy ruled in 650 just as absolutely as in 620; but the signs of the impending catastrophe had multiplied, and on the political horizon the sword had begun to appear by the side of the crown.
- Vol. 3, pg 163, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
- The belief that it is useless to employ partial and palliative means against radical evils, because they only remedy them in part, is an article of faith never preached unsuccessfully by meanness to simplicity, but it is none the less absurd.
- Vol. 4, pt. 2, translated by W.P.Dickson.
- But while at the bottom of the national life the slime was thus constantly accumulating more and more deleteriously and deeply, so much the more smooth and glittering was the surface, overlaid with the varnish of polished manners and universal friendship. All the world interchanged visits; so that in the houses of quality it was necessary to admit the persons presenting themselves every morning for the levee in a certain order fixed by the master or occasionally by the attendant in waiting, and to give audience only to the more notable one by one, while the rest were more summarily admitted partly in groups, partly en masse at the close—a distinction which Gaius Gracchus, in this too paving the way for the new monarchy, is said to have introduced. The interchange of letters of courtesy was carried to as great an extent as the visits of courtesy; "friendly" letters flew over land and sea between persons who had neither personal relations nor business with each other, whereas proper and formal business-letters scarcely occur except where the letter is addressed to a corporation. In like manner invitations to dinner, the customary new year's presents, the domestic festivals, were divested of their proper character and converted almost into public ceremonials; even death itself did not release the Roman from these attentions to his countless "neighbours," but in order to die with due respectability he had to provide each of them at any rate with a keepsake. Just as in certain circles of our mercantile world, the genuine intimacy of family ties and family friendships had so totally vanished from the Rome of that day that the whole intercourse of business and acquaintance could be garnished with forms and flourishes which had lost all meaning, and thus by degrees the reality came to be superseded by that spectral shadow of "friendship," which holds by no means the least place among the various evil spirits brooding over the proscriptions and civil wars of this age.
- Vol. 4, Pt. 2, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
- On Roman Friendship in the last ages of the Republic.
- An equally characteristic feature in the brilliant decay of this period was the emancipation of women. In an economic point of view the women had long since made themselves independent;(57) in the present epoch we even meet with solicitors acting specially for women, who officiously lend their aid to solitary rich ladies in the management of their property and their lawsuits, make an impression on them by their knowledge of business and law, and thereby procure for themselves ampler perquisites and legacies than other loungers on the exchange. But it was not merely from the economic guardianship of father or husband that women felt themselves emancipated. Love-intrigues of all sorts were constantly in progress. The ballet-dancers (-mimae-) were quite a match for those of the present day in the variety of their pursuits and the skill with which they followed them out; their primadonnas, Cytheris and the like, pollute even the pages of history. But their, as it were, licensed trade was very materially injured by the free art of the ladies of aristocratic circles. Liaisons in the first houses had become so frequent, that only a scandal altogether exceptional could make them the subject of special talk; a judicial interference seemed now almost ridiculous. An unparalleled scandal, such as Publius Clodius produced in 693 at the women's festival in the house of the Pontifex Maximus, although a thousand times worse than the occurrences which fifty years before had led to a series of capital sentences,(58) passed almost without investigation and wholly without punishment. The watering-place season—in April, when political business was suspended and the world of quality congregated in Baiae and Puteoli— derived its chief charm from the relations licit and illicit which, along with music and song and elegant breakfasts on board or on shore, enlivened the gondola voyages. There the ladies held absolute sway; but they were by no means content with this domain which rightfully belonged to them; they also acted as politicians, appeared in party conferences, and took part with their money and their intrigues in the wild coterie-doings of the time. Any one who beheld these female statesmen performing on the stage of Scipio and Cato and saw at their side the young fop—as with smooth chin, delicate voice, and mincing gait, with headdress and neckerchiefs, frilled robe, and women's sandals he copied the loose courtesan— might well have a horror of the unnatural world, in which the sexes seemed as though they wished to change parts. What ideas as to divorce prevailed in the circles of the aristocracy may be discerned in the conduct of their best and most moral hero Marcus Cato, who did not hesitate to separate from his wife at the request of a friend desirous to marry her, and as little scrupled on the death of this friend to marry the same wife a second time. Celibacy and childlessness became more and more common, especially among the upper classes. While among these marriage had for long been regarded as a burden which people took upon them at the best in the public interest,(59) we now encounter even in Cato and those who shared Cato's sentiments the maxim to which Polybius a century before traced the decay of Hellas,(60) that it is the duty of a citizen to keep great wealth together and therefore not to beget too many children. Where were the times, when the designation "children-producer" (-proletarius-) had been a term of honour for the Roman?
- Vol. 4, Pt. 2, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
- On Women in Rome at the Decline of the Republic.
- The highest revelations of humanity are perishable; the religion once true may become a lie, the polity once fraught with blessing may become a curse; but even the gospel that is past still finds confessors, and if such a faith cannot remove mountains like faith in the living truth, it yet remains true to itself down to its very end, and does not depart from the realm of the living till it has dragged its last priest and its last partisans along with it, and a new generation, freed from those shadows of the past and the perishing, rules over a world that has renewed its youth.
- Vol. 4, pt. 2, translated by W.P.Dickson.
- The constitutional struggle was at an end; and that it was so, was proclaimed by Marcus Cato when he fell on his sword at Utica. For many years he had been the foremost man in the struggle of the legitimate republic against its oppressors; he had continued it, long after he had ceased to cherish any hope of victory. But now the struggle itself had become impossible; the republic which Marcus Brutus had founded was dead and never to be revived; what were the republicans now to do on the earth? The treasure was carried off, the sentinels were thereby relieved; who could blame them if they departed? There was more nobility, and above all more judgment, in the death of Cato than there had been in his life. Cato was anything but a great man; but with all that short-sightedness, that perversity, that dry prolixity, and those spurious phrases which have stamped him, for his own and for all time, as the ideal of unreflecting republicanism and the favourite of all who make it their hobby, he was yet the only man who honourably and courageously championed in the last struggle the great system doomed to destruction. Just because the shrewdest lie feels itself inwardly annihilated before the simple truth, and because all the dignity and glory of human nature ultimately depend not on shrewdness but on honesty, Cato has played a greater part in history than many men far superior to him in intellect. It only heightens the deep and tragic significance of his death that he was himself a fool; in truth it is just because Don Quixote is a fool that he is a tragic figure. It is an affecting fact, that on that world-stage, on which so many great and wise men had moved and acted, the fool was destined to give the epilogue. He too died not in vain. It was a fearfully striking protest of the republic against the monarchy, that the last republican went as the first monarch came—a protest which tore asunder like gossamer all that so-called constitutional character with which Caesar invested his monarchy, and exposed in all its hypocritical falsehood the shibboleth of the reconciliation of all parties, under the aegis of which despotism grew up. The unrelenting warfare which the ghost of the legitimate republic waged for centuries, from Cassius and Brutus down to Thrasea and Tacitus, nay, even far later, against the Caesarian monarchy—a warfare of plots and of literature— was the legacy which the dying Cato bequeathed to his enemies. This republican opposition derived from Cato its whole attitude— stately, transcendental in its rhetoric, pretentiously rigid, hopeless, and faithful to death; and accordingly it began even immediately after his death to revere as a saint the man who in his lifetime was not unfrequently its laughing-stock and its scandal. But the greatest of these marks of respect was the involuntary homage which Caesar rendered to him, when he made an exception to the contemptuous clemency with which he was wont to treat his opponents, Pompeians as well as republicans, in the case of Cato alone, and pursued him even beyond the grave with that energetic hatred which practical statesmen are wont to feel towards antagonists opposing them from a region of ideas which they regard as equally dangerous and impracticable.
- Vol.4. Part 2.
- The End of the Republic and it's correspondence with the death of Cato.
- It is a dreadful picture—this picture of Italy under the rule of the oligarchy. There was nothing to bridge over or soften the fatal contrast between the world of the beggars and the world of the rich. The more clearly and painfully this contrast was felt on both sides—the giddier the height to which riches rose, the deeper the abyss of poverty yawned—the more frequently, amidst that changeful world of speculation and playing at hazard, were individuals tossed from the bottom to the top and again from the top to the bottom. The wider the chasm by which the two worlds were externally divided, the more completely they coincided in the like annihilation of family life—which is yet the germ and core of all nationality—in the like laziness and luxury, the like unsubstantial economy, the like unmanly dependence, the like corruption differing only in its tariff, the like criminal demoralization, the like longing to begin the war with property. Riches and misery in close league drove the Italians out of Italy, and filled the peninsula partly with swarms of slaves, partly with awful silence. It is a terrible picture, but not one peculiar to Italy; wherever the government of capitalists in a slave-state has fully developed itself, it has desolated God's fair world in the same way as rivers glisten in different colours, but a common sewer everywhere looks like itself, so the Italy of the Ciceronian epoch resembles substantially the Hellas of Polybius and still more decidedly the Carthage of Hannibal's time, where in exactly similar fashion the all-powerful rule of capital ruined the middle class, raised trade and estate-farming to the highest prosperity, and ultimately led to a— hypocritically whitewashed—moral and political corruption of the nation. All the arrant sins that capital has been guilty of against nation and civilization in the modern world, remain as far inferior to the abominations of the ancient capitalist-states as the free man, be he ever so poor, remains superior to the slave; and not until the dragon-seed of North America ripens, will the world have again similar fruits to reap.
- Italy under the Oligarchy
- Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
- Vol. 4, pt. 2, translated by W.P.Dickson.