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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 38

While the original pieces were performed in presence of that society which they copied, and in this very fact lay their principal charm, the Roman audience of this period was so different from the Attic, that it was not even in a position rightly to understand that foreign world. The Roman comprehended neither the grace and kindliness, nor the sentimentalism and the whitened emptiness of the domestic life of the Greeks. The slave-world was utterly different; the Roman slave was a piece of household furniture, the Attic slave was a servant.

Where marriages of slaves occur or a master carries on a kindly conversation with his slave, the Roman translators ask their audience not to take offence at such things which are usual in Athens;(24) and, when at a later period comedies began to be written in Roman costume, the part of the crafty servant had to be rejected, because the Roman public did not tolerate slaves of this sort overlooking and controlling their masters.

24. The ideas of the modern Greece on the point of slavery are illustrated by the passage in Euripides (Ion, 854; comp. Helena, 728):--

--En gar ti tois douloisin alochunen pherei,
Tounoma ta d' alla panta ton eleutheron
Oudeis kakion doulos, ostis esthlos e.--

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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