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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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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 IX - Art and Science


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Page 47

Character of Etruscan Art

The general character of Etruscan works of art is, on the one hand, a sort of barbaric extravagance in material as well as in style; on the other hand, an utter absence of original development. Where the Greek master lightly sketches, the Etruscan disciple lavishes a scholar's diligence; instead of the light material and moderate proportions of the Greek works, there appears in the Etruscan an ostentatious stress laid upon the size and costliness, or even the mere singularity, of the work.

Etruscan art cannot imitate without exaggerating; the chaste in its hands becomes harsh, the graceful effeminate, the terrible hideous, and the voluptuous obscene; and these features become more prominent, the more the original stimulus falls into the background and Etruscan art finds itself left to its own resources. Still more surprising is the adherence to traditional forms and a traditional style.

Whether it was that a more friendly contact with Etruria at the outset allowed the Greeks to scatter there the seeds of art, and that a later epoch of hostility impeded the admission into Etruria of the more recent developments of Greek art, or whether, as is more probable, the intellectual torpor that rapidly came over the nation was the main cause of the phenomenon, art in Etruria remained substantially stationary at the primitive stage which it had occupied on its first entrance.

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