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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


IV. The Revolution

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 XII - Nationality, Religion, and Education


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Page 38

Latin Instruction - Public Readings of Classical Works

But by its side there sprang up also a higher Latin instruction. We have shown in the previous epoch how Latin elementary instruction raised its character; how the place of the Twelve Tables was taken by the Latin Odyssey as a sort of improved primer, and the Roman boy was now trained to the knowledge and delivery of his mother-tongue by means of this translation, as the Greek by means of the original: how noted teachers of the Greek language and literature, Andronicus, Ennius, and others, who already probably taught not children properly so called, but boys growing up to maturity and young men, did not disdain to give instruction in the mother-tongue along with the Greek.

These were the first steps towards a higher Latin instruction, but they did not as yet form such an instruction itself. Instruction in a language cannot go beyond the elementary stage, so long as it lacks a literature. It was not until there were not merely Latin schoolbooks but a Latin literature, and this literature already somewhat rounded-off in the works of the classics of the sixth century, that the mother-tongue and the native literature truly entered into the circle of the elements of higher culture; and the emancipation from the Greek schoolmasters was now not slow to follow.

Stirred up by the Homeric prelections of Crates, cultivated Romans began to read the recitative works of their own literature, the Punic War of Naevius, the Annals of Ennius, and subsequently also the Poems of Lucilius first to a select circle, and then in public on set days and in presence of a great concourse, and occasionally also to treat them critically after the precedent of the Homeric grammarians. These literary prelections, which cultivated -dilettanti- (-litterati-) held gratuitously, were not formally a part of juvenile instruction, but were yet an essential means of introducing the youth to the understanding and the discussion of the classic Latin literature.

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