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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 31

We form a strange idea of men of so great and so versatile talents as Naevius and Plautus, if we refer such things to their free choice: this strange and clumsy "exterritorial" character of Roman comedy was undoubtedly due to causes very different from aesthetic considerations. The transference of such social relations, as are uniformly delineated in the new Attic comedy, to the Rome of the Hannibalic period would have been a direct outrage on its civic order and morality.

But, as the dramatic spectacles at this period were regularly given by the aediles and praetors who were entirely dependent on the senate, and even extraordinary festivals, funeral games for instance, could not take place without permission of the government; and as the Roman police, moreover, was not in the habit of standing on ceremony in any case, and least of all in dealing with the comedians; the reason is self-evident why this comedy, even after it was admitted as one of the Roman national amusements, might still bring no Roman upon the stage, and remained as it were banished to foreign lands.

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