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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 30

Roman Comedy - Its Hellenism a Necessary Result of the Law

Such were the foundations, and such the elements which shaped the growth, of Roman comedy. Originality was in its case excluded not merely by want of aesthetic freedom, but in the first instance, probably, by its subjection to police control. Among the considerable number of Latin comedies of this sort which are known to us, there is not one that did not announce itself as an imitation of a definite Greek model; the title was only complete when the names of the Greek piece and of its author were also given, and if, as occasionally happened, the "novelty" of a piece was disputed, the question was merely whether it had been previously translated.

Comedy laid the scene of its plot abroad not only frequently, but regularly and under the pressure of necessity; and that species of art derived its special name (-fabula palliata-) from the fact, that the scene was laid away from Rome, usually in Athens, and thai the -dramatis personae- were Greeks or at any rate not Romans. The foreign costume is strictly carried out even in detail, especially in those things in which the uncultivated Roman was distinctly sensible of the contrast, Thus the names of Rome and the Romans are avoided, and, where they are referred to, they are called in good Greek "foreigners" (-barbari-); in like manner among the appellations of moneys and coins, that occur ever so frequently, there does not once appear a Roman coin.

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