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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 41

Roman Barbarism

In the treatment of details the endeavour of the poet to bring matters as far as possible home to his Roman hearers, and the rule of police which required that the pieces should retain a foreign character, produced the most singular contrasts. The Roman gods, the ritual, military, and juristic terms of the Romans, present a strange appearance amid the Greek world; Roman -aediles- and -tresviri- are grotesquely mingled with -agoranomi- and -demarchi-; pieces whose scene is laid in Aetolia or Epidamnus send the spectator without scruple to the Velabrum and the Capitol.

Such a patchwork of Roman local tints distributed over the Greek ground is barbarism enough; but interpolations of this nature, which are often in their naive way very ludicrous, are far more tolerable than that thorough alteration of the pieces into a ruder shape, which the editors deemed necessary to suit the far from Attic culture of their audience. It is true that several even of the new Attic poets probably needed no accession to their coarseness; pieces like the -Asinaria- of Plautus cannot owe their unsurpassed dulness and vulgarity solely to the translator.

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