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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


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 41

The pride as well as the sound common sense of the Romans demurred to the Greek assertion that the ability to speak of things, which the orator understood and felt, intelligibly and attractively to his peers in the mother-tongue could be learned in the school by school-rules. To the solid practical advocate the procedure of the Greek rhetoricians, so totally estranged from life, could not but appear worse for the beginner than no preparation at all; to the man of thorough culture and matured by the experience of life, the Greek rhetoric seemed shallow and repulsive; while the man of serious conservative views did not fail to observe the close affinity between a professionally developed rhetoric and the trade of the demagogue.

Accordingly the Scipionic circle had shown the most bitter hostility to the rhetoricians, and, if Greek declamations before paid masters were tolerated doubtless primarily as exercises in speaking Greek, Greek rhetoric did not thereby find its way either into Latin oratory or into Latin oratorical instruction. But in the new Latin rhetorical schools the Roman youths were trained as men and public orators by discussing in pairs rhetorical themes; they accused Ulysses, who was found beside the corpse of Ajax with the latter's bloody sword, of the murder of his comrade in arms, or upheld his innocence; they charged Orestes with the murder of his mother, or undertook to defend him; or perhaps they helped Hannibal with a supplementary good advice as to the question whether he would do better to comply with the invitation to Rome, or to remain in Carthage, or to take flight.

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