Books and Movies Reviews

Theodor Mommsen

PREFACE.Probably few whose duty it is to teach Roman history in schools will deny that some such work as the present has too long been needed. It is for men thus engaged to judge whether this book meets their need. It would be alike impertinent and superfluous to dilate on the merits of Professor Mommsen’s history: those merits have won recognition from all qualified judges, and have long established his position as the prince of Roman historians. Unfortunately the size of his history is beyond the compass of ordinary schoolboys; nay, possibly, others besides schoolboys have shrunk from attempting so formidable a task. Our abridgment of his history must of necessity give but a feeble and inadequate idea of the original; but something will have been accomplished if we have given some conception, however faint, of that original, and have induced fresh inquirers to read for themselves those pages so bright with wisdom and imagination. There has been no attempt to hold the balance between Professor Mommsen ‘ and his rival Ihne, nor to answer the criticisms of Professor Freeman. Such efforts, even if we had the ability to make them, wonld be manifestly out of place in such a work as this. Occasionally, indeed, conflicting views have been indicated in a note; and the authorities have been studied, but our text contains the views of Professor Mommsen. Whatever merits may belong to this work should be ascribed to another; we must be held responsible for its defects. Our object has been to present the salient points clearly, and as far as possible to escape dulness, the Nemesis of the abridger. Consequently we have tried to avoid writing down to a boy’s level, a process invariablyresented by the boy himself. Inverted commas indicate that the passage is directly taken from the original. The requirements of space have necessitated the omission of a special chapter on Literature, Art, Religion, Economy, etc.; nor have we thought it wise to insert a few maps or illustrations of coins, works of art, etc. An atlas is really indispensable, and one is, we believe, shortly to be published specially designed to illustrate this period. We have to express our great indebtedness to Professor Dickson for allowing us to make free use of his translation, the merits of which it would be difficult to overpraise. Our gratitude is also due to Mr. Fowler, of Lincoln College, Oxford, and to Mr. Matheson, of New College, Oxford. The former kindly revised the proof sheets of the chapter on Authorities, and gave valuable suggestions. The latter was good enough to revise all the proof sheets of the history, in the preparation of which we often found much assistance from his very useful ” Outline of Roman History.” We have also to thank Mr. H. E. Goldschmidt, of Fettes College, Edinburgh, for a careful revision of a large portion of the proofs.While our history was in the press the third volume of Professor Mommsen’s ” Romisches Staatsrecht” appeared. Where possible, we have added references to it m our lists of authorities.THE SOURCES OF ROMAN HISTORY.At the close of each chapter we have subjoined, where possible, a list of the chief authorities for the statements therein contained, but a few remarks on the character of such authorities will not be out of place.Modern criticism has rudely shattered the romantic legends of the origin and regal period of Rome, legends given us in one form or another by all the ancient writers whose works are still preserved. Any reconstruction of the ruined fabric must necessarily rest in the main upon conjecture, and, however great be the probability of such conjecture, absolute certainty is impossible. Not only does’ darkness envelop the regal period of Rome, but we have to move with great caution through the confused accounts of the triumphs abroad and conflicts at home which marked Rome’s career during the first centuries of the republic. The reason of this is plain : no records except of the most …

PREFACE.Probably few whose duty it is to teach Roman history in schools will deny that some such work as the present has too long been needed. It is for men thus engaged to judge whether this book meets their need. It would be alike impertinent and superfluous to dilate on the merits of Professor Mommsen’s history: those merits have won recognition from all qualified judges, and have long established his position as the prince of Roman historians. Unfortunately the size of his history is beyond the compass of ordinary schoolboys; nay, possibly, others besides schoolboys have shrunk from attempting so formidable a task. Our abridgment of his history must of necessity give but a feeble and inadequate idea of the original; but something will have been accomplished if we have given some conception, however faint, of that original, and have induced fresh inquirers to read for themselves those pages so bright with wisdom and imagination. There has been no attempt to hold the balance between Professor Mommsen ‘ and his rival Ihne, nor to answer the criticisms of Professor Freeman. Such efforts, even if we had the ability to make them, wonld be manifestly out of place in such a work as this. Occasionally, indeed, conflicting views have been indicated in a note; and the authorities have been studied, but our text contains the views of Professor Mommsen. Whatever merits may belong to this work should be ascribed to another; we must be held responsible for its defects. Our object has been to present the salient points clearly, and as far as possible to escape dulness, the Nemesis of the abridger. Consequently we have tried to avoid writing down to a boy’s level, a process invariablyresented by the boy himself. Inverted commas indicate that the passage is directly taken from the original. The requirements of space have necessitated the omission of a special chapter on Literature, Art, Religion, Economy, etc.; nor have we thought it wise to insert a few maps or illustrations of coins, works of art, etc. An atlas is really indispensable, and one is, we believe, shortly to be published specially designed to illustrate this period. We have to express our great indebtedness to Professor Dickson for allowing us to make free use of his translation, the merits of which it would be difficult to overpraise. Our gratitude is also due to Mr. Fowler, of Lincoln College, Oxford, and to Mr. Matheson, of New College, Oxford. The former kindly revised the proof sheets of the chapter on Authorities, and gave valuable suggestions. The latter was good enough to revise all the proof sheets of the history, in the preparation of which we often found much assistance from his very useful ” Outline of Roman History.” We have also to thank Mr. H. E. Goldschmidt, of Fettes College, Edinburgh, for a careful revision of a large portion of the proofs.While our history was in the press the third volume of Professor Mommsen’s ” Romisches Staatsrecht” appeared. Where possible, we have added references to it m our lists of authorities.THE SOURCES OF ROMAN HISTORY.At the close of each chapter we have subjoined, where possible, a list of the chief authorities for the statements therein contained, but a few remarks on the character of such authorities will not be out of place.Modern criticism has rudely shattered the romantic legends of the origin and regal period of Rome, legends given us in one form or another by all the ancient writers whose works are still preserved. Any reconstruction of the ruined fabric must necessarily rest in the main upon conjecture, and, however great be the probability of such conjecture, absolute certainty is impossible. Not only does’ darkness envelop the regal period of Rome, but we have to move with great caution through the confused accounts of the triumphs abroad and conflicts at home which marked Rome’s career during the first centuries of the republic. The reason of this is plain : no records except of the most …

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