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Translated by William Purdie Dickson

Preparer's Note

This work contains many literal citations of and references to
foreign words sounds and alphabetic symbols drawn from many
languages including Gothic and Phoenician but chiefly Latin and
Greek. This English Gutenberg edition constrained to the characters
of 7-bit ASCII code adopts the following orthographic conventions:

1) Except for Greek all literally cited non-English words that do
not refer to texts cited as academic references words that in the
source manuscript appear italicized are rendered with a single
preceding and a single following dash; thus -xxxx-.

2) Greek words first transliterated into Roman alphabetic
equivalents are rendered with a preceding and a following double-
dash; thus --xxxx--. Note that in some cases the root word itself
is a compound form such as xxx-xxxx and is rendered as --xxx-xxx--

3) Simple unideographic references to vocalic sounds single
letters or alphabeic dipthongs; and prefixes suffixes and syllabic
references are represented by a single preceding dash; thus -x
or -xxx.

4) Ideographic references referring to signs of representation rather
than to content are represented as -"id:xxxx"-. "id:" stands for
"ideograph" and indicates that the reader should form a picture based
on the following "xxxx"; which may be a single symbol a word or an
attempt at a picture composed of ASCII characters. For example
--"id:GAMMA gamma"-- indicates an uppercase Greek gamma-form followed
by the form in lowercase. Some such exotic parsing as this is
necessary to explain alphabetic development because a single symbol
may have been used for a number of sounds in a number of languages
or even for a number of sounds in the same language at different
times. Thus -"id:GAMMA gamma" might very well refer to a Phoenician
construct that in appearance resembles the form that eventually
stabilized as an uppercase Greek "gamma" juxtaposed to one of
lowercase. Also a construct such as --"id:E" indicates a symbol
that with ASCII resembles most closely a Roman uppercase "E" but
in fact is actually drawn more crudely.

5) Dr. Mommsen has given his dates in terms of Roman usage A.U.C.;
that is from the founding of Rome conventionally taken to be
753 B. C. The preparer of this document has appended to the end
of each volume a table of conversion between the two systems.

The History Of Rome


Theodor Mommsen

Translated With The Sanction Of The Author


William Purdie Dickson D.D. LL.D.
Professor Of Divinity In The University Of Glasgow

A New Edition Revised Throughout And Embodying Recent Additions


From The Abolition Of The Monarchy In Rome To The Union Of Italy

Change Of The Constitution-

Limitation Of The Power Of The Magistrate

The Tribunate Of The Plebs And The Decemvirate

The Equalization Of The Orders And The New Aristocracy

Fall Of The Etruscan Power--

The Celts

Subjugation Of The Latins And Campanians By Rome

Struggle Of The Italians Against Rome

Struggle Between Pyrrhus And Rome And Union Of Italy


Military System--
Economic Condition--

Art And Science


From The Abolition Of The Monarchy In Rome To The Union Of Italy

--dei ouk ekpleittein ton suggraphea terateuomenon dia teis iotopias
tous entugchanontas.--



Change Of The Constitution--
Limitation Of The Power Of The Magistrate

Political And Social Distinctions In Rome

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.

This struggle was carried on within the burgess-body. Side by
side with it another movement developed itself--the cry of the
non-burgesses for equality of political privileges. Under this head
are included the agitations of the plebeians the Latins the Italians
and the freedmen all of whom--whether they may have borne the name
of burgesses as did the plebeians and the freedmen or not as was
the case with the Latins and Italians--were destitute of and desired
political equality.

A third distinction was one of a still more general nature; the
distinction between the wealthy and the poor especially such as had
been dispossessed or were endangered in possession. The legal and
political relations of Rome led to the rise of a numerous class of
farmers--partly small proprietors who were dependent on the mercy of
the capitalist partly small temporary lessees who were dependent on
the mercy of the landlord--and in many instances deprived individuals
as well as whole communities of the lands which they held without
affecting their personal freedom. By these means the agricultural
proletariate became at an early period so powerful as to have a
material influence on the destinies of the community. The urban
proletariate did not acquire political importance till a much later

On these distinctions hinged the internal history of Rome and as
may be presumed not less the history--totally lost to us--of the
other Italian communities. The political movement within the
fully-privileged burgess-body the warfare between the excluded and
excluding classes and the social conflicts between the possessors
and the non-possessors of land--variously as they crossed and
interlaced and singular as were the alliances they often produced
--were nevertheless essentially and fundamentally distinct.

Abolition Of The Life-Presidency Of The Community

As the Servian reform which placed the --metoikos-- on a footing of
equality in a military point of view with the burgess appears to have
originated from considerations of an administrative nature rather than
from any political party-tendency we may assume that the first of the
movements which led to internal crises and changes of the constitution
was that which sought to limit the magistracy. The earliest
achievement of this 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. How
necessarily this was the result of the natural development of things
is most strikingly demonstrated by the fact that the same change of
constitution took place in an analogous manner through the whole
circuit of the Italo-Grecian world. Not only in Rome but likewise
among the other Latins as well as among the Sabellians Etruscans
and Apulians--and generally in all the Italian communities just as
in those of Greece--we find the rulers for life of an earlier epoch
superseded in after times by annual magistrates. In the case of the
Lucanian canton there is evidence that it had a democratic government
in time of peace and it was only in the event of war that the
magistrates appointed a king that is an official similar to the
Roman dictator. The Sabellian civic communities such as those of
Capua and Pompeii in like manner were in later times governed by
a "community-manager" (-medix tuticus-) changed from year to year
and we may assume that similar institutions existed among the other
national and civic communities of Italy. In this light the reasons
which led to the substitution of consuls for kings in Rome need no
explanation. The organism of the ancient Greek and Italian polity
developed of itself by a sort of natural necessity the limitation of
the life-presidency to a shortened and for the most part an annual
term. Simple however as was the cause of this change it might be
brought about in various ways; a resolution might be adopted on the
death of one life-ruler not to elect another--a course which the
Roman senate is said to have attempted after the death of Romulus;
or the ruler might voluntarily abdicate as is alleged to have been
the intention of king Servius Tullius; or the people might rise in
rebellion against a tyrannical ruler and expel him.

Expulsion Of The Tarquins From Rome

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; that he accumulated immense
stores of grain in his granaries and exacted from the burgesses
military labour and task-work beyond what was due. The exasperation
of the people is attested by the formal vow which they made man by
man for themselves and for their posterity that thenceforth they would
never tolerate a king; by the blind hatred with which the name of king
was ever afterwards regarded in Rome; and above all by the enactment
that the "king for offering sacrifice" (-rex sacrorum- or
-sacrificulus-) --whom they considered it their duty to create that the
gods might not miss their accustomed mediator--should be disqualified
from holding any further office so that this man became the foremost
indeed but also the most powerless in the Roman commonwealth. Along
with the last king all the members of his clan were banished--a proof
how close at that time gentile ties still were. The Tarquinii
thereupon transferred themselves to Caere perhaps their ancient
home(1) where their family tomb has recently been discovered.
In the room of the one president holding office for life two
annual rulers were now placed at the head of the Roman community.

This is all that can be looked upon as historically certain in
reference to this important event.(2) It is conceivable that in
a great community with extensive dominion like the Roman the royal
power particularly if it had been in the same family for several
generations would be more capable of resistance and the struggle
would thus be keener than in the smaller states; but there is no
certain indication of any interference by foreign states in the
struggle. The great war with Etruria--which possibly moreover
has been placed so close upon the expulsion of the Tarquins only in
consequence of chronological confusion in the Roman annals--cannot
be regarded as an intervention of Etruria in favour of a countryman
who had been injured in Rome for the very sufficient reason that the
Etruscans notwithstanding their complete victory neither restored the
Roman monarchy nor even brought back the Tarquinian family.

Powers Of The Consuls

If we are left in ignorance of the historical connections of this
important event we are fortunately in possession of clearer light as
to the nature of the change which was made in the constitution. The
royal power was by no means abolished as is shown by the very fact
that when a vacancy occurred afterwards as before an "interim king"
(-interrex-) was nominated. The one life-king was simply replaced
by two year-kings who called themselves generals (-praetores-)
or judges (-iudices-) or merely colleagues (consules).(3)
The principles of collegiate tenure and of annual duration are those
which distinguish the republic from the monarchy and they first meet
us here.

Collegiate Arrangement

The collegiate principle from which the third 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. This was carried so far that instead of one of the two
colleagues undertaking perhaps the administration of justice and
the other the command of the army they both administered justice
simultaneously in the city just as they both set out together to
the army; in case of collision the matter was decided by a rotation
measured by months or days. A certain partition of functions withal
at least in the supreme military command might doubtless take place
from the outset--the one consul for example taking the field against
the Aequi and the other against the Volsci--but it had in no wise
binding force and each of the colleagues was legally at liberty to
interfere at any time in the province of the other. When therefore
supreme power confronted supreme power and the one colleague forbade
what the other enjoined the consular commands neutralized each other.
This peculiarly Latin if not peculiarly Roman institution of
co-ordinate supreme authorities--which in the Roman commonwealth on
the whole approved itself as practicable but to which it will be
difficult to find a parallel in any other considerable state
--manifestly sprang out of the endeavour to retain the regal power
in legally undiminished fulness. They were thus led not to break
up the royal office into parts or to transfer it from an individual
to a college but simply to double it and thereby if necessary
to neutralize it through its own action.

Term Of Office

As regards the termination of their tenure of office the earlier
-interregnum- of five days furnished a legal precedent. The ordinary
presidents of the community were bound not to remain in office
longer than a year reckoned from the day of their entering on their
functions;(4) and they ceased -de jure- to be magistrates upon the
expiry of the year just as the interrex on the expiry of the five
days. Through this set termination of the supreme office the
practical irresponsibility of the king was lost in the case of the
consul. It is true that the king was always in the Roman commonwealth
subject and not superior to the law; but as according to the Roman
view the supreme judge could not be prosecuted at his own bar the
king might doubtless have committed a crime but there was for him no
tribunal and no punishment. The consul again if he had committed
murder or treason was protected by his office but only so long as
it lasted; on his retirement he was liable to the ordinary penal
jurisdiction like any other burgess.

To these leading changes affecting the principles of the
constitution other restrictions were added of a subordinate and more
external character some of which nevertheless produced a deep effect
The privilege of the king to have his fields tilled by task-work
of the burgesses and the special relation of clientship in which
the --metoeci-- as a body must have stood to the king ceased of
themselves with the life tenure of the office.

Right Of Appeal

Hitherto in criminal processes as well as in fines and corporal
punishments it had been the province of the king not only to
investigate and decide the cause but also to decide whether the
person found guilty should or should not be allowed to appeal for
pardon. The Valerian law now (in 245) enacted that the consul must
allow the appeal of the condemned where sentence of capital or
corporal punishment had been pronounced otherwise than by martial
law--a regulation which by a later law (of uncertain date but passed
before 303) was extended to heavy fines. In token of this right of
appeal when the consul appeared in the capacity of judge and not
of general the consular lictors laid aside the axes which they had
previously carried by virtue of the penal jurisdiction belonging to
their master. The law however threatened the magistrate who did
not allow due course to the -provocatio- with no other penalty than
infamy--which as matters then stood was essentially nothing but a
moral stain and at the utmost only had the effect of disqualifying
the infamous person from giving testimony. Here too the course
followed was based on the same view that it was in law impossible
to diminish the old regal powers and that the checks imposed upon the
holder of the supreme authority in consequence of the revolution had
strictly viewed only a practical and moral value. When therefore the
consul acted within the old regal jurisdiction he might in so acting
perpetrate an injustice but he committed no crime and consequently
was not amenable for what he did to the penal judge.

A limitation similar in its tendency took place in the civil
jurisdiction; for probably there was taken from the consuls at
the very outset the right of deciding at their discretion a legal
dispute between private persons.

Restrictions On The Delegation Of Powers

The remodelling of the criminal as of civil procedure stood in
connection with a general arrangement respecting the transference
of magisterial power to deputies or successors. While the king had
been absolutely at liberty to nominate deputies but had never been
compelled to do so the consuls exercised the right of delegating
power in an essentially different way. No doubt the rule that if
the supreme magistrate left the city he had to appoint a warden there
for the administration of justice(5) remained in force also for the
consuls and the collegiate arrangement was not even extended to such
delegation; on the contrary this appointment was laid on the consul
who was the last to leave the city. But the right of delegation
for the time when the consuls remained in the city was probably
restricted upon the very introduction of this office by providing
that delegation should be prescribed to the consul for definite
cases but should be prohibited for all cases in which it was not so
prescribed. According to this principle as we have said the whole
judicial system was organized. The consul could certainly exercise
criminal jurisdiction also as to a capital process in the way of
submitting his sentence to the community and having it thereupon
confirmed or rejected; but he never so far as we see exercised
this right perhaps was soon not allowed to exercise it and possibly
pronounced a criminal judgment only in the case of appeal to the
community being for any reason excluded. Direct conflict between
the supreme magistrate of the community and the community itself was
avoided and the criminal procedure was organized really in such a
way that the supreme magistracy remained only in theory competent
but always acted through deputies who were necessary though appointed
by himself. These were the two--not standing--pronouncers-of-judgment
for revolt and high treason (-duoviri perduellionis-) and the two
standing trackers of murder the -quaestores parricidii-. Something
similar may perhaps have occurred in the regal period where the
king had himself represented in such processes;(6) but the standing
character of the latter institution and the collegiate principle
carried out in both belong at any rate to the republic. The latter
arrangement became of great importance also in so far that thereby
for the first time alongside of the two standing supreme magistrates
were placed two assistants whom each supreme magistrate nominated at
his entrance on office and who in due course also went out with him
on his leaving it--whose position thus like the supreme magistracy
itself was organized according to the principles of a standing
office of a collegiate form and of an annual tenure. This was not
indeed as yet the inferior magistracy itself at least not in the
sense which the republic associated with the magisterial position
inasmuch as the commissioners did not emanate from the choice of
the community; but it doubtless became the starting-point for the
institution of subordinate magistrates which was afterwards developed
in so manifold ways.

In a similar way the decision in civil procedure was withdrawn from
the supreme magistracy inasmuch as the right of the king to transfer
an individual process for decision to a deputy was converted into the
duty of the consul after settling the legitimate title of the party
and the object of the suit to refer the disposal of it to a private
man to be selected by him and furnished by him with instructions.

In like manner there was left to the consuls the important
administration of the state-treasure and of the state-archives;
nevertheless probably at once or at least very early there were
associated with them standing assistants in that duty namely those

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