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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 22

Along with these love-pieces we find others of a pathetic kind. Among the comedies of Plautus, for instance, the -Rudens- turns on a shipwreck and the right of asylum; while the -Trinummus- and the -Captivi- contain no amatory intrigue, but depict the generous devotedness of the friend to his friend and of the slave to his master. Persons and situations recur down to the very details like patterns on a carpet; we never get rid of the asides of unseen listeners, of knocking at the house-doors, and of slaves scouring the streets on some errand or other.

The standing masks, of which there was a certain fixed number--viz., eight masks for old men, and seven for servants--from which alone in ordinary cases at least the poet had to make his choice, further favoured a stock-model treatment. Such a comedy almost of necessity rejected the lyrical element in the older comedy--the chorus--and confined itself from the first to conversation, or at most recitation; it was devoid not of the political element only, but of all true passion and of all poetical elevation.

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