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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 82

The remarkable vision, with which the poem opens, tells in good Pythagorean style how the soul now inhabiting Quintus Ennius had previously been domiciled in Homer and still earlier in a peacock, and then in good physicist style explains the nature of things and the relation of the body to the mind.

Even the choice of the subject serves the same purpose--at any rate the Greek literati of all ages have found an especially suitable handle for their Graeco-cosmopolite tendencies in this very manipulation of Roman history. Ennius lays stress on the circumstance that the Romans were reckoned Greeks:

-Contendunt Graecos, Graios memorare solent sos.-

The poetical value of the greatly celebrated Annals may easily be estimated after the remarks which we have already made regarding the excellences and defects of the poet in general. It was natural that as a poet of lively sympathies, he should feel himself elevated by the enthusiastic impulse which the great age of the Punic wars gave to the national sensibilities of Italy, and that he should not only often happily imitate Homeric simplicity, but should also and still more frequently make his lines strikingly echo the solemnity and decorum of the Roman character.

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