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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 69

Moral Effect of Tragedy

The historical position and influence of Greek tragedy in Rome were entirely analogous to those of Greek comedy; and while, as the difference in the two kinds of composition necessarily implied, the Hellenistic tendency appeared in tragedy under a purer and more spiritual form, the tragic drama of this period and its principal representative Ennius displayed far more decidedly an anti-national and consciously propagandist aim. Ennius, hardly the most important but certainly the most influential poet of the sixth century, was not a Latin by birth, but on the contrary by virtue of his origin half a Greek.

Of Messapian descent and Greek training, he settled in his thirty-fifth year at Rome, and lived there--at first as a resident alien, but after 570 as a burgess(42)--in straitened circumstances, supported partly by giving instruction in Latin and Greek, partly by the proceeds of his pieces, partly by the donations of those Roman grandees, who, like Publius Scipio, Titus Flamininus, and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, were inclined to promote the modern Hellenism and to reward the poet who sang their own and their ancestors' praises and even accompanied some of them to the field in the character, as it were, of a poet laureate nominated beforehand to celebrate the great deeds which they were to perform.

42. Cf. III. XI. Roman Franchise More Difficult of Acquisition

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