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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 21

Character of the Newer Attic Comedy

The pieces are of tiresome monotony. Almost without exception the plot turns on helping a young man, at the expense either of his father or of some -leno-, to obtain possession of a sweetheart of undoubted charms and of very doubtful morals. The path to success in love regularly lies through some sort of pecuniary fraud; and the crafty servant, who provides the needful sum and performs the requisite swindling while the lover is mourning over his amatory and pecuniary distresses, is the real mainspring of the piece.

There is no want of the due accompaniment of reflections on the joys and sorrows of love, of tearful parting scenes, of lovers who in the anguish of their hearts threaten to do themselves a mischief; love or rather amorous intrigue was, as the old critics of art say, the very life-breath of the Menandrian poetry. Marriage forms, at least with Menander, the inevitable finale; on which occasion, for the greater edification and satisfaction of the spectators, the virtue of the heroine usually comes forth almost if not wholly untarnished, and the heroine herself proves to be the lost daughter of some rich man and so in every respect an eligible match.

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