Theodor Mommsen History of Rome
The Revolution


Theodor Mommsen History of Rome

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The History Of Rome

Book Fourth The Revolution

By Theodor Mommsen

Translated With The Sanction Of The Author

By William Purdie Dickson, D.D., LL.D.

Professor Of Divinity In The University Of Glasgow


BOOK FOURTH The Revolution

CHAPTER I The Subject Countries Down To The Times Of The Gracchi

CHAPTER II The Reform Movement And Tiberius Gracchus

CHAPTER III The Revolution And Gaius Gracchus

CHAPTER IV The Rule Of The Restoration

CHAPTER V The Peoples Of The North

CHAPTER VI The Attempt Of Marius At Revolution And The Attempt Of Drusus At Reform

CHAPTER VII The Revolt Of The Italian Subjects, And The Sulpician Revolution

CHAPTER VIII The East And King Mithradates

CHAPTER IX Cinna And Sulla

CHAPTER X The Sullan Constitution

CHAPTER XI The Commonwealth And Its Economy

CHAPTER XII Nationality, Religion, And Education

Chapter XIII Literature And Art

Book Fourth

The Revolution

"-Aber sie treiben's toll; Ich furcht', es breche." Nicht jeden Wochenschluss Macht Gott die Zeche-.


Chapter I

The Subject Countries Down To The Times Of The Gracchi

The Subjects

With the abolition of the Macedonian monarchy the supremacy of Rome not only became 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, it weighed on the nations with all the pressure 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 superior power and utter weakness, both in the Spanish provinces already annexed to the Roman empire and in the African, Hellenic, and Asiatic territories which were still treated as clients of Rome. But, however unimportant and subordinate the individual conflicts may appear, they have collectively a deep historical significance; and, in particular, the state of things in Italy at this period only becomes intelligible in the light of the reaction which the provinces exercised over the mother-country.


Except in the territories which may be regarded as natural appendages of Italy--in which, however, the natives were still far from being completely subdued, and, not greatly to the credit of Rome, Ligurians, Sardinians, and Corsicans were continually furnishing occasion for "village triumphs"--the formal sovereignty of Rome at the commencement of this period was established only in the two Spanish provinces, which embraced the larger eastern and southern portions of the peninsula beyond the Pyrenees. We have already(1) attempted to describe the state of matters in the peninsula. Iberians and Celts, Phoenicians, Hellenes, and Romans were there confusedly intermingled. The most diverse kinds and stages of civilization subsisted there simultaneously and at various points crossed each other, the ancient Iberian culture side by side with utter barbarism, the civilized relations of Phoenician and Greek mercantile cities side by side with an incipient process of Latinizing, which was especially promote by the numerous Italians employed in the silver mines and by the large standing garrison. In this respect the Roman township of Italica (near Seville) and the Latin colony of Carteia (on the bay Of Gibraltar) deserve mention--the latter being the first transmarine urban community of Latin tongue and Italian constitution. Italica was founded by the elder Scipio, before he left Spain (548), for his veterans who were inclined to remain in the peninsula--probably, however, not as a burgess-community, but merely as a market-place.(2) Carteia was founded in 583 and owed its existence to the multitude of camp-children--the offspring of Roman soldiers and Spanish slaves--who grew up as slaves de jure but as free Italians de facto, and were now manumitted on behalf of the state and constituted, along with the old inhabitants of Carteia, into a Latin colony. For nearly thirty years after the organizing of the province of the Ebro by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (575, 576)(3) the Spanish provinces, on the whole, enjoyed the blessings of peace undisturbed, although mention is made of one or two expeditions against the Celtiberians and Lusitanians.

Lusitanian War

But more serious events occurred in 600. The Lusitanians, under the leadership of a chief called Punicus, invaded the Roman territory, defeated the two Roman governors who had united to oppose them, and slew a great number of their troops. The Vettones (between the Tagus and the Upper Douro) were thereby induced to make common cause with the Lusitanians; and these, thus reinforced, were enabled to extend their excursions as far as the Mediterranean, and to pillage even the territory of the Bastulo-Phoenicians not far from the Roman capital New Carthage (Cartagena). The Romans at home took the matter seriously enough to resolve on sending a consul to Spain, a step which had not been taken since 559; and, in order to accelerate the despatch of aid, they even made the new consuls enter on office two months and a half before the legal time. For this reason the day for the consuls entering on office was shifted from the 15th of March to the 1st of January; and thus was established the beginning of the year, which we still make use of at the present day. But, before the consul Quintus Fulvius Nobilior with his army arrived, a very serious encounter took place on the right bank of the Tagus between the praetor Lucius Mummius, governor of Further Spain, and the Lusitanians, now led after the fall of Punicus by his successor Caesarus (601). Fortune was at first favourable to the Romans; the Lusitanian army was broken and their camp was taken. But the Romans, partly already fatigued by their march and partly broken up in the disorder of the pursuit, were at length completely beaten by their already vanquished antagonists, and lost their own camp in addition to that of the enemy, as well as 9000 dead.

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