23 April 2001
MOMMSEN, Theodor. Römische Geschichte. Leipzig: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1854-56, 1877 and 1885.
5 volumes (all published). 8o (203 x 122 mm). 10 folding maps by Heinrich Kiepert. 4 volumes bound in late 19th-century half morocco gilt; vol. IV in original printed wrappers, as issued, in cloth chemise and half-morocco slipcase (offpirnt with wrappers removed from another binding, with spine notches for sewn-in cords).
Provenance: Prof. Dr. C. Schmidt: author's presentation inscription on wrapper of vol. IV ("Herrn Professor Dr. C. Schmidt mit dankbarem Grüss Mommsen")
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. Mommsen's Roman History to a great extent determined the concept of ancient history during the second half of the 19th century and served as the principal vehicle through which the standards and techniques of German scholarship influenced the rest of the world. The work, which was widely read in many languages, "is still not only the most brillant production of German historiography but in many respects unsurpassed as a work of scholarship" (PMM). The first three volumes treat Roman history from the beginning to the battle of Thapsus (46 B.C.), and the fifth volume describes the Roman provinces from Caesar to Diocletian. The fourth volume is a 34-page offprint of two articles from the journal Hermes (vol. 13, no. 761), published for the author's friends in an edition of approximately 100 copies. Its epigraph reads: "Gerne hätt' ich fortgeschrieben, aber es ist liegen blieben."
In addition to his scholarly activities, Mommsen was active politically, as a revolutionary in 1848, as a radical delegate to the Prussian Diet and German Reichstag, and as a contributor to left-wing journals. He believed in a strong, centralized government which would champion peasants and workmen; hence, perhaps, his admiration for Caesar. PMM 337. (5)
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