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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


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

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Page 122

Plastic Art and Painting

Of Roman plastic art we scarcely encounter any other trace than, perhaps, the embossing in wax of the images of ancestors. Painters and painting are mentioned somewhat more frequently. Manius Valerius caused the victory which he obtained over the Carthaginians and Hiero in 491 off Messana(74) to be depicted on the side wall of the senate- house--the first historical frescoes in Rome, which were followed by many of similar character, and which were in the domain of the arts of design what the national epos and the national drama became not much later in the domain of poetry.

74. Cf. III. II. War between the Romans and Carthaginians and Syracusans

We find named as painters, one Theodotus who, as Naevius scoffingly said,

-Sedens in cella circumtectus tegetibus
Lares ludentis peni pinxit bubulo;-

Marcus Pacuvius of Brundisium, who painted in the temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium--the same who, when more advanced in life, made himself a name as an editor of Greek tragedies; and Marcus Plautius Lyco, a native of Asia Minor, whose beautiful paintings in the temple of Juno at Ardea procured for him the freedom of that city.(75)

75. Plautius belongs to this or to the beginning of the following period, for the inscription on his pictures (Plin. H. N. xxxv. 10, 115), being hexametrical, cannot well be older than Ennius, and the bestowal of the citizenship of Ardea must have taken place before the Social War, through which Ardea lost its independence.

But these very facts clearly indicate, not only that the exercise of art in Rome was altogether of subordinate importance and more of a manual occupation than an art, but also that it fell, probably still more exclusively than poetry, into the hands of Greeks and half Greeks.

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