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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


III. From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States

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 XIV - Literature and Art


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Page 101

Rhetoric and Philosophy

The Romans of this epoch still remained strangers to rhetoric and philosophy. The speech in their case lay too decidedly at the very heart of public life to be accessible to the handling of the foreign schoolmaster; the genuine orator Cato poured forth all the vials of his indignant ridicule over the silly Isocratean fashion of ever learning, and yet never being able, to speak.

The Greek philosophy, although it acquired a certain influence over the Romans through the medium of didactic and especially of tragic poetry, was nevertheless viewed with an apprehension compounded of boorish ignorance and of instinctive misgiving. Cato bluntly called Socrates a talker and a revolutionist, who was justly put to death as an offender against the faith and the laws of his country; and the opinion, which even Romans addicted to philosophy entertained regarding it, may well be expressed in the words of Ennius:

-Philosophari est mihi necesse, at paucis, nam omnino haut placet.
Degustandum ex ea, non in eam ingurgitandum censeo.-

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