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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 5

While accordingly the taking part in the masked farces with stereotyped characters, that formed the usual native amusement,(6) was looked upon as an innocent youthful frolic, the appearing on a public stage for money and without a mask was considered as directly infamous, and the singer and poet were in this respect placed quite on a level with the rope-dancer and the harlequin. Persons of this stamp were regularly pronounced by the censors(7) incapable of serving in the burgess-army and of voting in the burgess-assembly.

6. Cf. I. XV. Masks

7. Cf. II. VIII. Police f.

Moreover, not only was the direction of the stage regarded as pertaining to the province of the city police--a fact significant enough even in itself--but the police was probably, even at this period, invested with arbitrary powers of an extraordinary character against professional stage-artists. Not only did the police magistrates sit in judgment on the performance after its conclusion--on which occasion wine flowed as copiously for those who had acquitted themselves well, as stripes fell to the lot of the bungler--but all the urban magistrates were legally entitled to inflict bodily chastisement and imprisonment on any actor at any time and at any place.

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