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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 52


Still less are we able to form a special opinion as to the third and last--for though Ennius wrote comedies, he did so altogether unsuccessfully--comedian of note in this epoch, Statins Caecilius. He resembled Plautus in his position in life and his profession. Born in Cisalpine Gaul in the district of Mediolanum, he was brought among the Insubrian prisoners of war(33) to Rome, and earned a livelihood, first as a slave, afterwards as a freedman, by remodelling Greek comedies for the theatre down to his probably early death (586).

33. Cf. III. III. The Celts Conquered by Rome, III. VII. Measures Adopted to Check the Immigration of the Trans-Alpine Gauls

His language was not pure, as was to be expected from his origin; on the other hand, he directed his efforts, as we have already said,(34) to a more artistic construction of the plot.

34. Cf. III. XIV. Roman Barbarism

His pieces experienced but a dull reception from his contemporaries, and the public of later times laid aside Caecilius for Plautus and Terence; and, if nevertheless the critics of the true literary age of Rome--the Varronian and Augustan epoch--assigned to Caecilius the first place among the Roman editors of Greek comedies, this verdict appears due to the mediocrity of the connoisseur gladly preferring a kindred spirit of mediocrity in the poet to any special features of excellence. These art-critics probably took Caecilius under their wing, simply because he was more regular than Plautus and more vigorous than Terence; notwithstanding which he may very well have been far inferior to both.

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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