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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 117

The Greek literati and physicians were in his view the most dangerous scum of the radically corrupt Greek people,(72) and the Roman "ballad- singers" are treated by him with ineffable contempt.(73)

72. "As to these Greeks," he says to his son Marcus, "I shall tell at the proper place, what I came to learn regarding them at Athens; and shall show that it is useful to look into their writings, but not to study them thoroughly. They are an utterly corrupt and ungovernable race--believe me, this is true as an oracle; if that people bring hither its culture, it will ruin everything, and most especially if it send hither its physicians. They have conspired to despatch all barbarians by their physicking, but they get themselves paid for it, that people may trust them and that they may the more easily bring us to ruin. They call us also barbarians, and indeed revile us by the still more vulgar name of Opicans. I interdict thee, therefore, from all dealings with the practitioners of the healing art."

Cato in his zeal was not aware that the name of Opicans, which had in Latin an obnoxious meaning, was in Greek quite unobjectionable, and that the Greeks had in the most innocent way come to designate the Italians by that term (I. X. Time of the Greek Immigration).

73. Cf. II. IX. Censure of Art

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