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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 19

Under such circumstances, where art worked for daily wages and the artist instead of receiving due honour was subjected to disgrace, the new national theatre of the Romans could not present any development either original or even at all artistic; and, while the noble rivalry of the noblest Athenians had called into life the Attic drama, the Roman drama taken as a whole could be nothing but a spoiled copy of its predecessor, in which the only wonder is that it has been able to display so much grace and wit in the details.

That only one piece was produced each day we infer from the fact, that the spectators come from home at the beginning of the piece (Poen. 10), and return home after its close (Epid. Pseud. Rud. Stich. Truc. ap. fin.). They went, as these passages show, to the theatre after the second breakfast, and were at home again for the midday meal; the performance thus lasted, according to our reckoning, from about noon till half-past two o'clock, and a piece of Plautus, with music in the intervals between the acts, might probably occupy nearly that length of time (comp. Horat. Ep. ii. i, 189). The passage, in which Tacitus (Ann. xiv. 20) makes the spectators spend "whole days" in the theatre, refers to the state of matters at a later period.

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