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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 14

We have no difficulty in believing the statement of the old critics of art, that, apart from the compulsory reading at school, none of the poems of Livius were taken up a second time. Yet these labours were in various respects norms for succeeding times.

They began the Roman translated literature, and naturalized the Greek metres in Latium. The reason why these were adopted only in the dramas, while the Odyssey of Livius was written in the national Saturnian measure, evidently was that the iambuses and trochees of tragedy and comedy far more easily admitted of imitation in Latin than the epic dactyls.

But this preliminary stage of literary development was soon passed. The epics and dramas of Livius were regarded by posterity, and undoubtedly with perfect justice, as resembling the rigid statues of Daedalus destitute of emotion or expression--curiosities rather than works of art.

But in the following generation, now that the foundations were once laid, there arose a lyric, epic, and dramatic art; and it is of great importance, even in a historical point of view, to trace this poetical development.

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