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


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


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 115

On the whole, however innumerable may be the false accommodations and sins against the rules of art which we can point out in them, these were just the offences which were by stringent necessity attendant on the far from scrupulous efforts of the missionaries of Hellenism; and they are, in a historical and even aesthetic point of view, outweighed in some measure by the zeal of faith equally inseparable from propagandism. We may form a different opinion from Ennius as to the value of his new gospel; but, if in the case of faith it does not matter so much what, as how, men believe, we cannot refuse recognition and admiration to the Roman poets of the sixth century.

A fresh and strong sense of the power of the Greek world-literature, a sacred longing to transplant the marvellous tree to the foreign land, pervaded the whole poetry of the sixth century, and coincided in a peculiar manner with the thoroughly elevated spirit of that great age. The later refined Hellenism looked down on the poetical performances of this period with some degree of contempt; it should rather perhaps have looked up to the poets, who with all their imperfection yet stood in a more intimate relation to Greek poetry, and approached nearer to genuine poetical art, than their more cultivated successors.

In the bold emulation, in the sounding rhythms, even in the mighty professional pride of the poets of this age there is, more than in any other epoch of Roman literature, an imposing grandeur; and even those who are under no illusion as to the weak points of this poetry may apply to it the proud language, already quoted, in which Ennius celebrates its praise:

-Enni poeta, salve, qui mortalibus
Versus propinas flammeos medullitus.-

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 :