History of Rome (Mommsen)

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History of Rome (Ger. Römische Geschichte) is a multi-volume history of ancient Rome written by Theodor Mommsen. It was originally intended to be in five volumes spanning the history of Rome from its inception to the emperor Diocletian. The first three volumes, covering the inception of Rome to the end of the Republic, were published between 1854-56. A planned fourth volume was scrapped before completion, but another volume about the history of the Roman Empire's provinces was published in 1885. Although this final volume was the fourth, it is commonly referred to as the fifth. The 'fourth' volume is not extant.

English translations by Dr. William Purdie Dickson of the University of Glasgow were published in 1861 and 1894.

A noted new English version was compiled by Professor John H. Collins and Dero A. Saunders and published in 1958. Aside from further annotations and a greatly improved translation, the book sought to put Mommsen's vast contributions to the study of Roman History in clearer context.

Professor Collins' introduction to The History of Rome begins as follows:

"One of the highpoints of Mark Twain's European tour of 1892 was a large formal banquet at the University of Berlin given in honor of two of the nineteenth century's scientific giants, Rudolph Virchow, one of the founders of modern biology, and Hermann von Helmholtz, perhaps Europe's greatest scientific mind since Isaac Newton. Mark Twain was an honored guest, seated at the head table with some twenty 'particularly eminent professors'; and it was from this vantage point that he witnessed the following incident:

"'When apparently the last eminent guest had long ago taken his place, again those three bugle-blasts rang out, and once more the swords leaped from their scabbards. Who might this late comer be? Nobody was interested to inquire. Still, indolent eyes were turned toward the distant entrance, and we saw the silken gleam and the lifted sword of a guard of honor plowing through the remote crowds. Then we saw that end of the house rising to its feet; saw it rise abreast the advancing guard all along like a wave. This supreme honor had been offered to no one before. There was an excited whisper at our table—'MOMMSEN!'—and the whole house rose. Rose and shouted and stamped and clapped and banged the beer mugs. Just simply a storm! Then the little man with his long hair and Emersonian face edged his way past us and took his seat. I could have touched him with my hand—Mommsen!—think of it!...I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him, and here he was, without trouble or tramp or cost of any kind. Here he was clothed in a titanic deceptive modesty which made him look like other men. Here he was, carrying the Roman world and all the Caesars in his hospitable skull, and doing it as easily as that other luminous vault, the skull of the universe, carries the Milky Way and the constellations.'

"It is doubtful whether any other European intellectual figure of that day could have been thus honored in the presence of such men as Virchow and Helmholtz, and certainly none could have deserved the honor more than Mommsen."

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History of Rome (Mommsen)

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