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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 7

Any one who knows how singularly difficult it is to find suitable matter and suitable forms for the higher intellectual culture of youth, and how much more difficult it is to set aside the matter and forms once found, will understand how it was that the Romans knew no mode of supplying the desideratum of a more advanced Latin instruction except that of simply transferring the solution of this problem, which instruction in the Greek language and literature furnished, to instruction in Latin.

In the present day a process entirely analogous goes on under our own eyes in the transference of the methods of instruction from the dead to the living languages.

But unfortunately the chief requisite for such a transference was wanting. The Romans could, no doubt, learn to read and write Latin by means of the Twelve Tables; but a Latin culture presupposed a literature, and no such literature existed in Rome.

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