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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 68

Of course there were various alterations of detail, changes in the metres, curtailments, and disfigurements; in the Latin edition of the -Iphigenia- of Euripides, for instance, the chorus of women was--either after the model of another tragedy, or by the editor's own device--converted into a chorus of soldiers. The Latin tragedies of the sixth century cannot be pronounced good translations in our sense of the word;(41) yet it is probable that a tragedy of Ennius gave a far less imperfect image of the original of Euripides than a comedy of Plautus gave of the original of Menander.

41. We subjoin, for comparison, the opening lines of the -Medea- in the original of Euripides and in the version of Ennius:--

--Eith' ophel' 'Apgous me diaptasthai skaphos
Kolchon es aian kuaneas sumplegadas
Med' en napaisi Pelion pesein pote
Tmetheisa peuke, med' epetmosai cheras
Andron arioton, oi to pagchruson deros
Pelia metelthon ou gar an despoin
Medeia purgous ges epleus Iolkias
'Eroti thumon ekplageis' 'Iasonos.--

-Utinam ne in nemore Pelio securibus
Caesa accidisset abiegna ad terram trabes,
Neve inde navis inchoandae exordium
Coepisset, quae nunc nominatur nomine
Argo, quia Argivi in ea dilecti viri
Vecti petebant pellem inauratam arietis
Colchis, imperio regis Peliae, per dolum.
Nam nunquam era errans mea domo efferret pedem
Medea, animo aegra, amort saevo saucia.-

The variations of the translation from the original are instructive --not only its tautologies and periphrases, but also the omission or explanation of the less familiar mythological names, e. g. the Symplegades, the Iolcian land, the Argo. But the instances in which Ennius has really misunderstood the original are rare.

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