Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Constantinople Home Page  

Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


II. From the Abolition of the Monarchy in Rome to the Union of Italy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

CHAPTER VIII - Law, Religion, Military System, Economic Condition, Nationality


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 48

The custom not of sitting as formerly on benches, but of reclining on sofas, at table; the postponement of the chief meal from noon to between two and three o'clock in the afternoon according to our mode of reckoning; the institution of masters of the revels at banquets, who were appointed from among the guests present, generally by throwing the dice, and who then prescribed to the company what, how, and when they should drink; the table-chants sung in succession by the guests, which, however, in Rome were not -scolia-, but lays in praise of ancestors--all these were not primitive customs in Rome, but were borrowed from the Greeks at a very early period, for in Cato's time these usages were already common and had in fact partly fallen into disuse again.

We must therefore place their introduction in this period at the latest. A characteristic feature also was the erection of statues to "the wisest and the bravest Greek" in the Roman Forum, which took place by command of the Pythian Apollo during the Samnite wars. The selection fell--evidently under Sicilian or Campanian influence--on Pythagoras and Alcibiades, the saviour and the Hannibal of the western Greeks.

The extent to which an acquaintance with Greek was already diffused in the fifth century among Romans of quality is shown by the embassies of the Romans to Tarentum--when their mouthpiece spoke, if not in the purest Greek, at any rate without an interpreter--and of Cineas to Rome. It scarcely admits of a doubt that from the fifth century the young Romans who devoted themselves to state affairs universally acquired a knowledge of what was then the general language of the world and of diplomacy.

Thus in the intellectual sphere Hellenism made advances quite as incessant as the efforts of the Romans to subject the earth to their sway; and the secondary nationalities, such as the Samnite, Celt, and Etruscan, hard pressed on both sides, were ever losing their inward vigour as well as narrowing their outward bounds.

Previous / First / Next Page of this Chapter

Do you see any typos or other mistakes? Please let us know and correct them

The History of Old Rome: Contents ||| The Medieval West | The Making of Europe | Constantinople Home Page

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Receive updates :

Learned Freeware

Reference address :