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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 42

Nevertheless coarse incidents so prevail in the Roman comedy, that the translators must either have interpolated them or at least have made a very one-sided selection. In the endless abundance of cudgelling and in the lash ever suspended over the back of the slaves we recognize very clearly the household-government inculcated by Cato, just as we recognize the Catonian opposition to women in the never-ending disparagement of wives. Among the jokes of their own invention, with which the Roman editors deemed it proper to season the elegant Attic dialogue, several are almost incredibly unmeaning and barbarous.(25)

25. For instance, in the otherwise very graceful examination which in the -Stichus- of Plautus the father and his daughters institute into the qualities of a good wife, the irrelevant question--whether it is better to marry a virgin or a widow--is inserted, merely in order that it may be answered by a no less irrelevant and, in the mouth of the interlocutrix, altogether absurd commonplace against women. But that is a trifle compared with the following specimen. In Menander's -Plocium- a husband bewails his troubles to his friend:--

--Echo d' epikleron Lamian ouk eireka soi
Tout'; eit' ap' ouchi; kurian tes oikias
Kai ton agron kai panton ant' ekeines
Echoumen, Apollon, os chalepon chalepotaton
Apasi d' argalea 'stin, ouk emoi mono,
Tio polu mallon thugatri.--pragm' amachon legeis'
Eu oida--

In the Latin edition of Caecilius, this conversation, so elegant in its simplicity, is converted into the following uncouth dialogue:--

-Sed tua morosane uxor quaeso est?--Ua! rogas?--
Qui tandem?--Taedet rientionis, quae mihi
Ubi domum adveni ac sedi, extemplo savium
Dat jejuna anima.--Nil peccat de savio:
Ut devomas volt, quod foris polaveris.-

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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