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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 32

Political Neutrality

The compilers were still more decidedly prohibited from naming any living person in terms either of praise or censure, as well as from any captious allusion to the circumstances of the times. In the whole repertory of the Plautine and post-Plautine comedy, there is not, so far as we know, matter for a single action of damages. In like manner--if we leave out of view some wholly harmless jests--we meet hardly any trace of invectives levelled at communities (invectives which, owing to the lively municipal spirit of the Italians, would have been specially dangerous), except the significant scoff at the unfortunate Capuans and Atellans (18) and, what is remarkable, various sarcasms on the arrogance and the bad Latin of the Praenestines.(19)

18. Cf. III. VI In Italy

19. Bacch. 24; Trin. 609; True. iii. 2, 23. Naevius also, who in fact was generally less scrupulous, ridicules the Praenestines and Lanuvini (Com. 21, Ribb.). There are indications more than once of a certain variance between the Praenestines and Romans (Liv. xxiii. 20, xlii. i); and the executions in the time of Pyrrhus (ii. 18) as well as the catastrophe in that of Sulla, were certainly connected with this variance. --Innocent jokes, such as Capt. 160, 881, of course passed uncensured. --The compliment paid to Massilia in Cas. v. 4., i, deserves notice.

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