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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 XIII - Literature and Art


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Page 25

Although these farces, at least after they came to be written, accommodated themselves to the general laws of literature, and in their metres for instance followed the Greek stage, they yet naturally retained a far more Latin and more popular stamp than even the national comedy. The farce resorted to the Greek world only under the form of travestied tragedy;(15) and this style appears to have been cultivated first by Novius, and not very frequently in any case.

15. It was probably merry enough in this form. In the -Phoenissae- of Novius, for instance, there was the line:--

-Sume arma, iam te occidam clava scirpea-, Just as Menander's --Pseudeirakleis-- makes his appearance.

The farce of this poet moreover ventured, if not to trespass on Olympus, at least to touch the most human of the gods, Hercules: he wrote a -Hercules Auctionator-. The tone, as a matter of course, was not the most refined; very unambiguous ambiguities, coarse rustic obscenities, ghosts frightening and occasionally devouring children, formed part of the entertainment, and offensive personalities, even with the mention of names, not unfrequently crept in. But there was no want also of vivid delineation, of grotesque incidents, of telling jokes, and of pithy sayings; and the harlequinade rapidly won for itself no inconsiderable position in the theatrical life of the capital and even in literature.

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