Theodor Mommsen

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Theodor Mommsen

Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (30 November 18171 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.


He knew neither the art of gaining his antagonists, nor that of keeping his own party in subjection. Bust of Gaius Marius
  • The ancient boundary of Italy on the north was not the Alps but the Apennines.
    • The History of Rome
  • All power, as well as all the impotence of democracy is based on faith
    • The History of Rome

The History of Rome - Volume 1[edit]

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
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.
  • 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 ethno-graphical and philological point of view to different races, but constituting in their historical aspect one whole. This historic whole has been usually, 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 successive 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 Mediterranean, 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
  • ..personal credit was guaranteed in the most summary and extravagant fashion; for the law entitled the creditor to treat his insolvent debtor like a thief, and granted to him in sober earnest by legislative enactment what Shylock, half in jest, stipulated for from his mortal enemy, guarding indeed by special clauses the point as to cutting off too much more carefully than did the Jew.
    • Vol. 1, Pt. 1, Translated by W.P.Dickson
    • Character of Roman law in relation to Debt in the Roman Kingdom.
  • [the] qualities -those of good soldiers but bad citizens - explain the historical fact, that the celts have shaken states everywhere,but founded none.
    • Vol. 1. Translated by W.P.Dicskon
  • 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. 1. Translated by W.P.Dickson
    • Introductory Paragraph to the second part of Volume 1. 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.
  • ..any revolution or any usurpation is justified before the bar of history by the exclusive ability govern, even its rigorous judgement must acknowledge that the corporation duly comprehended and worthily fulfilled its great task.
    • Vol. 1. Book II. Chapter 3. Translated by W.P.Dickson.
  • After Rome had acquired the undisputed mastery of the world, the Greeks were wont to annoy their Roman masters by the assertion, that Rome was indebted for her greatness to the fever, of which Alexander of Macedon died at Babylon on the 11th of June, 323. As it was not very agreeable for them to reflect on the actual past, they were fond of allowing their thoughts to dwell on what might have happened, had the great king turned his arms towards the west, and contested the Carthaginian supremacy by sea with his fleet, and the Roman supremacy by land with his phalanxes. It is not impossible that Alexander may have cherished such thoughts; nor is it necessary to resort for such an explanation of their origin to the mere difficulty which an autocrat provided with soldiers and ships experiences in setting limits to his warlike career. It was an enterprise worthy of a great Greek king to protect the siceliots against Carthage and the Tarentines against Rome.. and the Italian embassies from the Bruttians, Lucanians, and Etruscans, that long with numerous others made their appearance at Babylon, afforded him sufficient opportunities of becoming acquainted with the circumstances of the peninsula, and of contracting relations with it. Carthage with is many connections in the east could not but attract the attention of the mighty monarch, and it was probably part of his design to convert the nominal sovereignty of the Persian king over the Tyrian colony into a real one: the apprehensions of the Carthaginians are shown by the Phoenician spy in the suite of Alexander. Whether, however, those ideas were dreams or actual projects, the king died without having interfered in the affairs of the west, and his ideas were buried with him. For a few brief years a Grecian ruler had held in his hands the whole intellectual vigour of the Hellenic race combined with the whole material resources of the east. On his death the work to which his life had been devoted - the establishment of a Hellenism in the east - was by no means undone; but his empire had barely been united when it was again dismembered, and, admidst the constant quarrels of the different states that were formed out of its ruins, the object of world-wide interest which they were destined to promote - the diffusion of Greek culture in the east - though not abandoned, was prosecuted on a feeble and stunted scale.
    • Vol. 1., Page 394 - 395. Translated by W.P.Dickson.
  • The earliest achievement of this (of equality and the restriction on the powers of the constitutionally mandated magistrates), the most ancient opposition in Rome, consisted in the abolition of the life-tenure of the presidency of the community; in other words, in the abolition of the monarchy... Not only in Rome (but all over the Italian peninsula) ... we find the rulers for life of an earlier epoch superseded in after times by annual magistrates. In this light the reasons which led to the substitution of the consuls for kings in Rome need no explanation. The organism of the ancient Greek and Italian polity through its own action and by a sort of natural necessity produced the limitation of the life-presidency to a shortened, and for the most part an annual, term... Simple, however, as was the cause of the change, it might be brought about in various ways, resolution (of the community),.. or the rule might voluntarily abdicate; or the people might rise in rebellion against a tyrannical ruler, and expel him. It was in this latter way that the monarchy was terminated in Rome. For however much the history of the expulsion of the last Tarquinius, "the proud", may have been interwoven with anecdotes and spun out into a romance, it is not in its leading outlines to be called in question. Tradition credibly enough indicates as the causes of the revolt, that the king neglected to consult the senate and to complete its numbers; that he pronounced sentences of capital punishment and confiscation without advising with his counsellors(sic); that he accumulated immense stores of grain in his granaries, and exacted from the burgesses military labours and task-work beyond what was due... we are (in light of the ignorance of historical facts around the abolition of the monarchy) fortunately in possession of a clearer light as to the nature of the change which was made in the constitution (after the expulsion of the monarchy). The royal power was by no means abolished, as is shown by the fact that, when a vacancy occurred, a "temporary king" (Interrex) was nominated as before. The one life-king was simply replaced by two [one year] kings, who called themselves generals (praetores), or judges..., or merely colleagues (Consuls) [literally, "Those who leap or dance together"]. The collegiate principle, from which this last - and subsequently most current - name of the annual kings was derived, assumed in their case an altogether peculiar form. The supreme power was not entrusted to the two magistrates conjointly, but each consul possessed and exercised it for himself as fully and wholly as it had been possessed and exercised by the king; and, although a partition of functions doubtless took place from the first - the one consul for instance undertaking the command of the army, and the other the administration of justice - that partition was by no means binding, and each of the colleagues was legally at liberty to interfere at any time in the province of the other.
    • Vol. 1, Book II , Chapter 1. "Change of the Constitution" Translated by W.P. Dickson
  • In Etruria.. the nation stagnated and decayed in political helplessness and indolent opulence, a theological monopoly in the hands of the nobility, stupid fatalism, wild and meaningless mysticism, the arts of soothsaying and mendicant priestcraft gradually developed themselves, till they reached the height at which we afterwards find them.
    • Vol. 1, Book II, Chapter 8. "Law. Religion. Military System. Economic Condition. Nationality"
  • The force of circumstances... is stronger than even the strongest government: the language and customs of the Latin people immediately shared (with Rome) its ascendancy in Italy, and already began to undermine the other Italian Nationalities.
    • Vol. 1, Book II, Chapter 8. "Law. Religion. Military System. Economic Condition. Nationality"
  • As the grave closes alike over all whether important or insignificant, so in the roll of Roman magistrates the empty scion of nobility stands undistinguishable by the side of the great statesmen [men] who had been at the head of the Roman commonwealth, as well as this Roman statesmen and warrior, might be commemorated as having been of noble birth and of manly beauty, valiant and wise; but there was no more to record [of their lives and deeds]] regarding them... The senator was intended to be no worse and no better then other senators, nor at all to differ from them. It was no necessary and not desirable that any burgess should surpess the rest, whether in showy silver plate and Hellenic culture, or in uncommon wisdom and excellence. The Rome of the period belonged to no individual; it was necessary that the burgesses should all be alike.."
    • Vol. 1, Book II, Chapter 8. "Law. Religion. Military System. Economic Condition. Nationality"
    • On the lack of individuality in Rome in the first ages of the Republic (in contradisticintion with the Hellenic cultures of Greece)

The History of Rome - Volume 2[edit]

A bust, reputedly of Hannibal * He was peculiarly marked by that inventive craftiness, which forms one of the leading traits of the Phoenician character; he was fond of taking singular and unexpected routes; ambushes and stratagems of all sorts were familiar to him; and he studied the character of his antagonists with unprecedented care. By an unrivalled system of espionage--he had regular spies even in Rome--he kept himself informed of the projects of the enemy; he himself was frequently seen wearing disguises and false hair, in order to procure information on some point or other. Every page of the history of this period attests his genius in strategy; and his gifts as a statesman
  • The man, whose head and heart had in a desperate emergency and amidst a despairing people paved the way for their deliverance, was no more, when it became possible to carry out his design. Whether his successor Hasdrubal forbore to make the attack because the proper moment seemed to him to have not yet come, or whether, more a statesman than a general, he believed himself unequal to the conduct of the enterprise, we are unable to determine. When, at the beginning of [221 B.C], he fell by the hand of an assassin, the Carthaginian officers of the Spanish army summoned to fill his place Hannibal, the eldest son of Hamilcar. He was still a young man--born in [247 B.C], and now, therefore, in his twenty-ninth year [221 B.C]; but his had already been a life of manifold experience. His first recollections pictured to him his father fighting in a distant land and conquering on Ercte; he had keenly shared that unconquered father's feelings on the Peace of Catulus (also see Treaty of Lutatius), on the bitter return home, and throughout the horrors of the Libyan war. While yet a boy, he had followed his father to the camp; and he soon distinguished himself. His light and firmly-knit frame made him an excellent runner and fencer, and a fearless rider at full speed; the privation of sleep did not affect him, and he knew like a soldier how to enjoy or to dispense with food. Although his youth had been spent in the camp, he possessed such culture as belonged to the Phoenicians of rank in his day; in Greek, apparently after he had become a general, he made such progress under the guidance of his confidant Sosilus of Sparta as to be able to compose state papers in that language. As he grew up, he entered the army of his father, to perform his first feats of arms under the paternal eye and to see him fall in battle by his side. Thereafter he had commanded the cavalry under his sister's husband, Hasdrubal, and distinguished himself by brilliant personal bravery as well as by his talents as a leader. The voice of his comrades now summoned him--the tried, although youthful general--to the chief command, and he could now execute the designs for which his father and his brother-in-law had lived and died. He took up the inheritance, and he was worthy of it. His contemporaries tried to cast stains of various sorts on his character; the Romans charged him with cruelty, the Carthaginians with covetousness; and it is true that he hated as only Oriental natures know how to hate, and that a general who never fell short of money and stores can hardly have been other than covetous. But though anger and envy and meanness have written his history, they have not been able to mar the pure and noble image which it presents. Laying aside wretched inventions which furnish their own refutation, and some things which his lieutenants, particularly Hannibal Monomachus and Mago the Sammite, were guilty of doing in his name, nothing occurs in the accounts regarding him which may not be justified under the circumstances, and according to the international law, of the times; and all agree in this, that he combined in rare perfection discretion and enthusiasm, caution and energy. He was peculiarly marked by that inventive craftiness, which forms one of the leading traits of the Phoenician character; he was fond of taking singular and unexpected routes; ambushes and stratagems of all sorts were familiar to him; and he studied the character of his antagonists with unprecedented care. By an unrivaled system of espionage--he had regular spies even in Rome--he kept himself informed of the projects of the enemy; he himself was frequently seen wearing disguises and false hair, in order to procure information on some point or other. Every page of the history of this period attests his genius in strategy; and his gifts as a statesman were, after the peace with Rome, no less conspicuously displayed in his reform of the Carthaginian constitution, and in the unparalleled influence which as a foreign exile he exercised in the cabinets of the eastern powers. The power which he wielded over men is shown by his incomparable control over an army of various nations and many tongues--an army which never in the worst times mutinied against him. He was a great man; wherever he went, he riveted the eyes of all.
    • The History of Rome, Volume 2 Translated by W.P. Dickson
    • On Hannibal the man and soldier
  • All the Hellenistic States had thus been completely subjected to the protectorate of Rome, and the whole empire of Alexander the Great had fallen to the Roman commonwealth just as if the city had inherited it from his heirs. From all sides kings and ambassadors flocked to Rome to congratulate her; they showed that fawning is never more abject than when kings are in the antechamber...w:Polybius dates from the battle of Pydna the full establishment of the universal empire of Rome. It was in fact the last battle in which a civilized state confronted Rome in the field on a footing of equality with her as a great power; all subsequent struggles were rebellions or wars with peoples beyond the pale of the Romano-Greek civilization -- with barbarians, as they were called. The whole civilized world thenceforth recognized in the Roman senate the supreme tribunal, whose commissions decided in the last resort between kings and nations; and to acquire its language and manners foreign princes and youths of quality resided in Rome. A clear and earnest attempt to get rid of this dominion was in reality made only once -- by the great Mithradates of Pontus. The battle of pydna, moreover, marks the last occasion on which the senate still adhered to the state-maxim that that they should, if possible, hold no possessions and maintain no garrisons beyond the Italian seas, but should keep the numerous states dependent on them in order by a mere political supremacy. The aim aim of their policy was that these states should neither decline into utter weakness and anarchy, as had nevertheless happened in Greece nor emerge out of their half-free position into complete independence, as Macedonia had attempted to do without success. No state was to be allowed to utterly perish, but no one was to be permitted to stand on its own resources... Indications of a change of system, and of an increasing disinclination on the part of Rome to tolerate by its side intermediate states even in such independence as was possible for them, were clearly given in the destruction of the Macedonian monarchy after the battle of Pydna, the more and more frequent and more unavoidable the intervention in the internal affairs of the petty Greek states through their misgovernment, and their political and social anarchy, the disarming of Macedonia, where the Northern forntier at any rate urgently required a defence different from that of mere posts; and, lastly, the introduction of the payment of land-tax to Rome from Macedonia and Illyria, were so many symptoms of the approaching conversion of the client states into subjects of Rome.
    • vThe Changing of the Relationship between Rome and Her Client-States
    • The History Of Rome, Volume 2. Chapter 10. "The Third Macedonian War" Translated by W.P.Dickson
  • ... in truth Publius Scipio was one, who was himself enthusiastic, and who inspired enthusiasm. He was not one of the few who by their energy and iron will constrain the world to adopt, and to move in, new paths for centuries, or who grasp the reins of destiny for years till its wheels roll over them.... a wide interval separates such a man from an Alexander or a Caesar. As an officer, he rendered at least no greater service to his country than Marcus Marcellus; and as a politician, although not perhaps himself fully conscious of the unpatriotic and personal character of his policy, he injured hi country at least as much, as he benefited it by his military skill.
    • ** The History Of Rome, Volume 2. Chapter 6. Translated by W.P.Dickson
He was not one of the few who by their energy and iron will constrain the world to adopt, and to move in, new paths for centuries, or who grasp the reins of destiny for years till its wheels roll over them
  • The fall of the patriciate by no means divested the Roman commonwealth of its aristocratic character. We have already indicated that the plebeian party carried within it that character from the first as well as, and in some sense still more decidedly than, the patriciate; for, while in the old body of burgesses an absolute equality of rights prevailed, the new constitution set out from a distinction between the senatorial houses who were privileged in point of burgess rights and of burgess usufructs, and the mass of the other citizens. Immediately, therefore, on the abolition of the patriciate and the formal establishment of civic equality, a new aristocracy and a corresponding opposition were formed; and we have already shown how the former engrafted itself as it were on the fallen patriciate, and how, accordingly, the first movements of the new party of progress were mixed up with the last movements of the old opposition between the orders. The formation of these new parties began in the fifth century, but they assumed their definite shape only in the century which followed. The development of this internal change is, as it were, drowned amidst the noise of the great wars and victories, and not merely so, but the process of formation is in this case more withdrawn from view than any other in Roman history. Like a crust of ice gathering imperceptibly over the surface of a stream and imperceptibly confining it more and more, this new Roman aristocracy silently arose; and not less imperceptibly, like the current concealing itself beneath and slowly extending, there arose in opposition to it the new party of progress. It is very difficult to sum up in a general historical view the several, individually insignificant, traces of these two antagonistic movements, which do not for the present yield their historical product in any distinct actual catastrophe. But the freedom hitherto enjoyed in the commonwealth was undermined, and the foundation for future revolutions was laid, during this epoch; and the delineation of these as well as of the development of Rome in general would remain imperfect, if we should fail to give some idea of the strength of that encrusting ice, of the growth of the current beneath, and of the fearful moaning and cracking that foretold the mighty breaking up which was at hand. The Roman nobility attached itself, in form, to earlier institutions belonging to the times of the patriciate. Persons who once had filled the highest ordinary magistracies of the state not only, as a matter of course, practically enjoyed all along a higher honour, but also had at an early period certain honorary privileges associated with their position. The most ancient of these was doubtless the permission given to the descendants of such magistrates to place the wax images of these illustrious ancestors after their death in the family hall, along the wall where the pedigree was painted, and to have these images carried, on occasion of the death of members of the family, in the funeral procession.. the honouring of images was regarded in the Italo-Hellenic view as unrepublican, and on that account the Roman state-police did not at all tolerate the exhibition of effigies of the living, and strictly superintended that of effigies of the dead. With this privilege were associated various external insignia, reserved by law or custom for such magistrates and their descendants:--the golden finger-ring of the men, the silver-mounted trappings of the youths, the purple border on the toga and the golden amulet-case of the boys--trifling matters, but still important in a community where civic equality even in external appearance was so strictly adhered to, and where, even during the second Punic war, a burgess was arrested and kept for years in prison because he had appeared in public, in a manner not sanctioned by law, with a garland of roses upon his head.(6) These distinctions may perhaps have already existed partially in the time of the patrician government, and, so long as families of higher and humbler rank were distinguished within the patriciate, may have served as external insignia for the former; but they certainly only acquired political importance in consequence of the change of constitution in 387, by which the plebeian families that attained the consulate were placed on a footing of equal privilege with the patrician families, all of whom were now probably entitled to carry images of their ancestors. Moreover, it was now settled that the offices of state to which these hereditary privileges were attached should include neither the lower nor the extraordinary magistracies nor the tribunate of the plebs, but merely the consulship, the praetorship which stood on the same level with it,(7) and the curule aedileship, which bore a part in the administration of public justice and consequently in the exercise of the sovereign powers of the state.(8) Although this plebeian nobility, in the strict sense of the term, could only be formed after the curule offices were opened to plebeians, yet it exhibited in a short time, if not at the very first, a certain compactness of organization--doubtless because such a nobility had long been prefigured in the old senatorial plebeian families. The result of the Licinian laws in reality therefore amounted nearly to what we should now call the creation of a batch of peers. Now that the plebeian families ennobled by their curule ancestors were united into one body with the patrician families and acquired a distinctive position and distinguished power in the commonwealth, the Romans had again arrived at the point whence they had started; there was once more not merely a governing aristocracy and a hereditary nobility--both of which in fact had never disappeared--but there was a governing hereditary nobility, and the feud between the gentes in possession of the government and the commons rising in revolt against the gentes could not but begin afresh. And matters very soon reached that stage. The nobility was not content with its honorary privileges which were matters of comparative indifference, but strove after separate and sole political power, and sought to convert the most important institutions of the state--the senate and the equestrian order--from organs of the commonwealth into organs of the plebeio-patrician aristocracy.

The History of Rome - Volume 3[edit]

  • 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
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.
  • 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 age 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 degenerated 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 tranquility 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 usurped 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 aristocratic nobodies. Even the inaction of the government in its outward relations was doubtless 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.
  • With unrivalled activity.. [he] concentrated the most varied and most complicated functions of government in his own person. He himself watched over the distribution of grain, selected the jurymen, founded the colonies.. regulated the highways and concluded building-contracts, led the discussions of the senate, settled the consular elections - in short; he accustomed the people to the fact that one man was the foremost in all things, and threw the lax and lame administration of the senatorial college into the shade by the vigour and dexterity of his personal rule.
    • Vol. 3, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
    • On Gaius Gracchus.
  • 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.
  • "...public opinion justly recognized in both, above all things, the bankruptcy of the government,which, in its progressive development placed in jeopardy first the honour and now the very existence of the state.People just as little deceived themselves then as now regarding the true seat of the evil, but as little now as then did they make even an attempt to apply the remedy at the proper point. They saw well that the system was to blame; but this time also they adhered to the method of calling individuals to account. "
    • Vol. 3, Pg, 185, translated by W.P.Dickson
Mommsen late in his career
  • Revolutions have nowhere ended, and least of all in ROme, without demanding a certain number of victims, who under forms more or less borrowed from justice atone fro the fault of defeat as though it were a crime.
    • Vol. 3, Pg. 268, Translated by W.P. Dickson
Gaius Grachuss addressing the Concilium Plebis. * He accustomed the people to the fact that one man was the foremost in all things, and threw the lax and lame administration of the senatorial college into the shade by the vigour and dexterity of his personal rule.
    • He knew neither the art of gaining his antagonists, nor that of keeping his own party in subjection
    • Vol. 3, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
    • On Gaius Marius
  • 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 proletariat 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 conscious 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 not 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 enemy than in presence of the applause or hisses of the multitude; but his inclinations were of little moment. The hopes of which he was the object constrained him.

The History of Rome - Volume 4: Part 1[edit]

  • When Sulla died in the year [78 B.C.], the oligarchy which he had restored ruled with absolute sway over the Roman state; but, as it had been established by force, it still needed force to maintain its ground against its numerous secret and open foes. it was opposed not by any single party with objects clearly expressed and under leaders distinctly acknowledged, but by a mass of multifarious elements, ranging themselves doubtless under the general name of the popular party, but in reality opposing the Sullan organization of the commonwealth on very various grounds and with very different designs...There were... the numerous and important classes whom the sullan restoration had left unsatisfied, or whom the political or private interest it had directly injured. Among those who for such reasons belonged to the opposition ranked the dense and prosperous population of the region between the Po and the Alps, which naturally regarded the bestowal of Latin rights in [89 B.C.] as merely an installment of the full Roman franchise, and so afforded a ready soil for agitation. To this category belonged also the freedman, influential in numbers and wealth, and specially dangerous through their aggregation in the capital, who could not brook their having been reduced by the restoration to their earlier, practically useless, suffrage. In the same position stood, moreover, the great capitalists, who maintained a cautious silence, but still as before preserved their tenacity of resentment and their equal tenacity of power. The populace of the capital, which recognized true freedom in free bread-corn, was likewise discontented. Still deeper exasperation prevailed among the burgess bodies affected by the Sullan confiscations - whether they, like those of Pompeii, lived on their property curtailed by the Sullan colonists, within the same ring-wall with the latter, and at perpetual variance with them; or, like the Arrentines and Volaterrans, retained actual possession of their territory, but had the Damocles' sword of confiscation suspended over them by the Roman people..
    • Vol. 4, Part: 1. Translated by W.P. Dickson.
  • Let us look back on the events which fill up the ten years of the Sullan restoration. No one of the movements, external or internal, which occurred during this period - neither the insurrection of Lepidus, nor the enterprises of the Spanish emigrants, nor the wars in Thrace and Macedonia and in Asia Minor, nor the risings of the pirates and the slaves - constituted of itself a mighty danger necessarily affecting the vital sinews of the nation; and yet the state had in all these struggles well-night fought for its very existence. The reason was that the tasks were left everywhere unperformed, so long as they might still have been performed with ease; the neglect of the simplest precautionary measures produced the most dreadful mischiefs and misfortunes, and transformed dependent classes and impotent kings into antagonists on a footing of equality. The democracy and the servile insurrection were doubtless subdued; but such as the victories were, the victor was neither inwardly elevated nor outwardly strengthened by them. It was no credit to Rome, that the two most celebrated generals of the government party had during a struggle of eight years marked by more defeats than victories failed to master the insurgent chief Sertorius and his Spanish guerrillas, and that it was only the dagger of his friends that decided the Sertorian war in favour[sic] of the legitimate government. As to the slaves, it was far less an honour[sic] to have confronted them in equal strive for years. Little more than a century had elapsed since the Hannibalic war; it must have brought a blush to the cheek of the honourable[sic] Roman, when he reflected on the fearfully rapid decline of the nation since that great age. Then the (the Roman) Italian slaves stood like a wall against the veterans of Hannibal; now the Italian militia were scattered like chaff before the bludgeons of their runaway serfs. Then every plain captain acted in case of need as general, and fought often without success, but always with honour, not it was difficult to find among all the officers of rank a leader of even ordinary efficiency. Then the government preferred to take the last farmer from the plough rather than forgo the acquisition of Spain and Greece; now they were on the eve of again abandoning both regions long since acquired, merely that they might be able to defend themselves against the insurgent slaves at home. Spartacus too as well as Hannibal had traversed Italy with an army from the Po to the Sicilian Straights, beaten both consuls, and threatened Rome with a blockade; the enterprise which had needed the greatest general of antiquity to conduct it against the Rome of former days could be undertaken against the Rome of the present by a daring captain of banditti. Was there any wonder that no fresh life sprang out of such victories over insurgents and robber-chiefs?
    • Vol. 4, Pt. 1, Chapter 2. "Rule of the Sullan Restoration"
    • The Government of the Restoration as a Whole
  • Catilina in particular was one of the most nefarious men in that nefarious age. His villanies belong to the criminal records, not to history; but his very outward appearance - the pale countenance, the wild glance, the gait by turns sluggish and hurried - betrayed his dismal past. He possessed in a high degree the qualities which are required in the leader of such a band - the faculty of enjoying all pleasures and of bearing all privations, courage, military talent, knowledge of men, the energy of a felon, and that horrible mastery of vice which knows how to bring the weak to fall, and how to train the fallen to crime.
    • Vol. 4, Pt. 1, Translated by W.P. Dickson
    • On the Praetor Lucius Catilina
Image of Tiberius Gracchus * There are no set forms of high treason in history; whoever provokes one power in the state to conflict with another is certainly a revolutionist, but he may at the same time be a sagacious and praiseworthy statesman.

*He Sertorius regarded his army as a Roman one, and filled the officers' posts, without exception, with Romans. With reference to the Spaniards he was the governor, who by virtue of his office levied troops and other support from them; but he was a governor who, instead of exercising the usual despotic sway, endeavoured to attach the provincials to Rome and to himself personally. His chivarlrous character rendered it easy for him to enter into Spanish habits, and excited in the Spanish nobility the most ardent enthusiasm for the wonderful foreigner who had a spirit so kindred with their own.

    • Vol. 4, Part 1. Pg.20. Translated by W.P Dickson
  • This (The launching of an invasion into Armenia) was itself hazardous; but the smallness of the number (of the army, not more than 15,000 men) might be in some degree compensated by the tried valour of the army consisting throughout of veterans. A much worse circumstance was the temper of the soldiers, to which Lucullus, in his high aristocratic fashion, had given far too little heed. Lucullus was an able general, and - according to the aristocratic standard - an upright and benevolent man, but very far from being a favorite with his soldiers. He was unpopular, as a decided adherent of the oligarghy;unpopular, because he had vigorously checked the monstrous usury of the Roman capitalists in Asia Minor; unpopular, on account of the toils and fatigues which he inflicted on his troops; unpopular, because he demanded strict discipline in his soldiers and prevented as far as possible the pillage of the Greek towns by his men, but withal caused many a waggon and many a camel to be alden with the treasures of the East for himself; unpopular too on account of his manner, which was polished, stately, Hellenising, not at all familiar, and inclining, wherever it was possible, to ease and pleasure. There was no trace in him of the charm which creates a personal bond between the general and the soldier.
    • Vol. 4, Pt. 1, Chpt 2. "Rule of the Sullan Restoration" Translated by W.P. Dickson
    • Beginning of the Armenian War

The History of Rome - Volume 4: Part 2[edit]

No one takes an evil spirit into his service without becoming himself enslaved to it; but the greatest men are not those who err the least.Bust of Julius Caesar
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mankind have infinite difficulty in reaching new creations, and therefore cherish the once developed forms as sacred heirlooms.
    • Vol. 4. Part 2. Translated by W.P. Dickson
  • Fate is mightier than genius. Caesar desired to become the restorer of the civil commonwealth, and became the founder of the new military monarchy which he abhorred; he overthrew the regime of aristocrats and banks in the state, only to put a military regime in their place, and the commonwealth continued as before to be tyrannized and turned to profit by a privileged minority. And yet it is a privilege of the highest natures thus creatively to err. The brilliant attempts of great men to realize the ideal, though they do not reach their aim, form the best treasures of nations.
    • Vol. 4, pt. 2. 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.
  • With unrivalled activity.. [he] concentrated the most varied and most complicated functions of government in his own person. He himself watched over the distribution of grain, selected the jurymen, founded the colonies.. regulated the highways and concluded building-contracts, led the discussions of the senate, settled the consular elections - in short; he accustomed the people to the fact that one man was the foremost in all things, and threw the lax and lame administration of the senatorial college into the shade by the vigour and dexterity of his personal rule.
    • Vol. 4, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
    • On Gaius Gracchus.
  • 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.
  • Absolute power by virtue of its very nature withdraws itself from all specification.
    • Vol. 4, Part 2. Translated by W.P. Dickson
  • Mankind have infinite difficulty in reaching new creations, and therefore cherish the once developed forms as sacred heirlooms.
    • Vol. 4, Part 2. Translated by W.P. Dickson.
  • ..whatever may have been the style and title, the sovereign ruler was there, and accordingly the court established itself at once with all its due accompaniments of pomp, insipidity, and emptiness. Caesar appeared in public not in the robe of the consuls which was bordered with purple stripes, but in the robe wholly of purple which was reckoned in antiquity as the proper regal attire, and received, sitting on his golden chair and without rising from it, the solemn procession of the senate. The festivals in his honour commemorative of birthday, of victories, and of vows, filled the calendar. When Caesar came to the capital, his principal servants marched forth in trips to great distances so as to meet and escort him. To be near to him began to be of such importance, that the rents rose in the quarter of the city where he lived. Personal interviews with him were rendered so difficult by the multitude of individuals soliciting audience, that Caesar found himself compelled in many cases to communicate even with his intimate friends in writing, and that persons even of the highest rank had to wait for hours in the ante-chamber. People felt, more clearly than was agreeable to Caesar himself, that they no longer approached a fellow-citizen. There arose a monarchical aristocracy, which was a remarkable manner at once new and old, and which had sprung out of the idea of casting into the shade the aristocracy of the oligarchy by that of the royalty, the nobility of the patriciate. The patrician body still subsisted, although without essential privileges as an order, in the character of a close aristocratic guild; but as it could receive no new gentes it had dwindled away more and more in the course of centuries, and in Caesar's time there were not more than fifteen or sixteen patrician gentes still in existence. Caesar, himself sprung from one of them, got the right of creating new patrician gentes conferred on the Imperator by decree of the people, and so established, in contrast to the republican nobility, the new aristocracy of the patriciate, which most happily combined all the requisites of a monarchichal aristocracy - the charm of antiquity, entire dependence on the government, and total insignificance. On all sides the new sovereignty revealed itself.
    • Vol. 4, Part 2. Translated by W.P. Dickson.
    • The New Court.
  • We have reached the end of the Roman republic. We have seen it rule for five hundred years in Italy and in the countries on the Mediterranean; we have seen it brought to rum in politics and morals, religion and literature, not through outward violence but through inward decay, and thereby making room for the new monarchy of Caesar. There was in the world, as Caesar found it, much of the noble heritage of past centuries and an infinite abundance of pomp and glory, but little spirit, still less taste, and least of all true delight in life. It was indeed an old world; and even the richly-gifted patriotism of Caesar [b] could not make it young again. The dawn does not return till after the night has fully set in and run its course. But yet with him there came to the sorely harassed peoples on the Mediterranean a tolerable evening after the sultry noon; and when at length after a long historical night a new day dawned once more for the peoples, and fresh nations in free self-movement commenced their race towards new and higher goals, there were found among them not a few, in which the seed sown by Caesar had sprung up, and which were and are indebted to him for their national individuality.[/b]
    • Vol. 4, Pt. 2, Translated by W.P. Dickson.
    • Last paragraph of the last volume

The Provinces of the Roman Empire, From Caesar to Diocletian 1854-6[edit]

  • 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.
  • Bloodless victories are often feeble and dangerous
    • On the mission which resulted in Peace by Gauis Caesar to the East in the year 6 A.D.
      • Vol.2
  • Tiberius Caesar, who meanwhile had come to reign, did not order an immediate invasion (of Armenia), and for the moment the anti-Roman party in Armenia was victorious; but it was not his intention to abandon the important border-land. ON the contrary, the Annexation, probably long resolved on, of the Kingdom of Cappadocia was carried out in the year 17 (A.D.); the old Archelaus, who had occupied the throne there from the year 36 (B.C.), was summoned to Rome and was there informed that he had ceased to reign.
    • On Tiberius' ascension and some of its' consequences for the Eastern portion Roman Empire.
Posterity has justified more the policy of conquest than that of concession.
  • It is not meant to be denied that in a policy of conquest consistency is a dangerous praise, and that Trajan after his fashion yielded in these enterprises more than was reasonable to the effort after external success, and went beyond the rational; but wrong is done to him when his demeanor in the East is referred to blind lust of conquest. He did what Caesar would have done had he lived. His policy is but the other side of that of Nero's statesmen, and the two are as opposite, as they are equally consistent and equally warranted. Posterity has justified more the policy of conquest than that of concession.
    • Trajan's Oriental Policy
  • The history of the Jewish land is as little the history of the Jewish people as the history of the States of the Church is that of the Catholics; it is just as requisite to separate the two as to consider them together.
    • Judaea and the Jews

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