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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 12

His authorship arose out of his double occupation. As schoolmaster he translated the Odyssey into Latin, in order that the Latin text might form the basis of his Latin, as the Greek text was the basis of his Greek, instruction; and this earliest of Roman school-books maintained its place in education for centuries. As an actor, he not only like every other wrote for himself the texts themselves, but he also published them as books, that is, he read them in public and diffused them by copies. What was still more important, he substituted the Greek drama for the old essentially lyrical stage poetry. It was in 514, a year after the close of the first Punic war, that the first play was exhibited on the Roman stage.

This creation of an epos, a tragedy, and a comedy in the Roman language, and that by a man who was more Roman than Greek, was historically an event; but we cannot speak of his labours as having any artistic value. They make no sort of claim to originality; viewed as translations, they are characterized by a barbarism which is only the more perceptible, that this poetry does not naively display its own native simplicity, but strives, after a pedantic and stammering fashion, to imitate the high artistic culture of the neighbouring people.

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