a history and description of roman political institutions

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: Part II — Republican Period SECTION I —HISTORICAL - CHAPTER III THE PATRICIAN CITY 24. Credibility of Early Republican History. The traditional story of the kings is in large measure a transparent fiction. After the establishment of the republic the narrative descends into the realm of the possible and credible, but we should be mistaken in accepting the early part of it as trustworthy. Both the external and the internal evidence show it to be otherwise. For the first century or more oi the republic contemporary records are completely lacking. Everything of the sort must have been lost when the city was taken by the Gauls in 390. Then, too, an examination of the history of the early period, which ancient writers have left us, reveals the fact that truth and fiction are constantly interwoven, and that the greater part of the account is the production of a later date. The meager records which religious and political officials made in the fourth century B.c., relying on tradition, were supplemented, as time went on, by traditional tales of popular military heroes and political leaders, and successive generations of writers sought to remove inconsistencies, to suggest explanations, and to embellish the narrative by the use of rhetoricaldevices, as they did in the case of the regal history. However, the constitutional struggle which is under way when more trustworthy history begins is only a continuation of that of the first century of the republic, and from our knowledge of its nature, and of the forces at work, we can make fairly safe inferences concerning similar movements of the early period, and in this way test the truth of the traditional account. In a like manner the character of certain political institutions in the historical period, and the line which they take in t...
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