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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
A History of Rome
Tenney Frank

published by
Henry Holt and Company
New York 1923

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter I

 p. v  Preface

This book is intended primarily for general readers who are interested in the political and cultural fortunes of the ancient republic which in so many respects did pioneer work in democratic government. With such readers in view I have aimed to tell a consecutive story rather than compile a reference book of paragraphed facts. However, I have also kept constantly in mind the needs of college classes, which, till very recently, have had to depend upon elementary books or upon histories emanating from Europe. The latter, though usually well written, do not seem to meet our needs. The older peoples of Europe are more interested than we in the imperialistic problems of Rome, in the government of widely scattered provinces, and in the survival of late Roman institutions which they have inherited. We are naturally more concerned with Rome's earlier attempts at developing an effective government while trying to preserve democratic institutions. Whereas modern European nations have experienced a devolution, as it were, from late Roman autocracy, our state, like the Roman Republic, plunged at once into experimenting with more or less clearly accepted theories of popular sovereignty. Since a book of this compass can consider only a fraction of the known facts, it has seemed advisable to select rather rigorously the parts that concern us most.

In treating the Ciceronian period I may seem to have disregarded this rule in favor of fulness of detail. My justification must be that only in Cicero's correspondence have we the material from which to picture accurately Rome's everyday political and social life. Even if some of the incidents sketched may seem to be of little objective importance, it is well in one chapter at least to gain an  p. vi intimate impression of how the Romans actually conducted themselves. Furthermore it is at this point that the reader is most apt to have some knowledge, from first‑hand reading of Cicero, Caesar, and Vergil, of the facts and personalities involved.

My colleague, Professor Wilfred Pirt Mustard, has given me most generously of his time in a patient and helpful scrutiny of many of these chapters. Professor Allen C. Johnson has offered numerous excellent suggestions, Professor Ralph V. D. Magoffin has helped me prune the later chapters, and Professor C. H. Haskins, the general editor of this series, has pointed out many a sin of omission and commission throughout the manuscript. To all of them I am deeply grateful. The bibliography at the end, while intended primarily as a selected list of suitable readings, will also indicate the authors to whom I am most indebted. Finally I wish to thank the Johns Hopkins Press for permission to cull freely from my Economic History of Rome in writing chapter XXI.

T. F.

Baltimore, Md.

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Page updated: 10 Dec 20