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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 43

Metrical Treatment

So far as concerns metrical treatment on the other hand, the flexible and sounding verse on the whole does all honour to the composers. The fact that the iambic trimeters, which predominated in the originals and were alone suitable to their moderate conversational tone, were very frequently replaced in the Latin edition by iambic or trochaic tetrameters, is to be attributed not so much to any want of skill on the part of the editors who knew well how to handle the trimeter, as to the uncultivated taste of the Roman public which was pleased with the sonorous magnificence of the long verse even where it was not appropriate.

Scenic Arrangements

Lastly, the arrangements for the production of the pieces on the stage bore the like stamp of indifference to aesthetic requirements on the part of the managers and the public. The stage of the Greeks--which on account of the extent of the theatre and from the performances taking place by day made no pretension to acting properly so called, employed men to represent female characters, and absolutely required an artificial strengthening of the voice of the actor--was entirely dependent, in a scenic as well as acoustic point of view, on the use of facial and resonant masks.

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