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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 28

Now also there is frequent mention of the bestowal of a prize of victory--which implies the competition of several pieces--of the audience taking a lively part for or against the leading actors, of cliques and -claqueurs-. The decorations and machinery were improved; moveable scenery artfully painted and audible theatrical thunder made their appearance under the aedileship of Gaius Claudius Pulcher in 655;(18) and twenty years later (675) under the aedileship of the brothers Lucius and Marcus Lucullus came the changing of the decorations by shifting the scenes.

18. The scenery of Pulcher must have been regularly painted, since the birds are said to have attempted to perch on the tiles (Plin. H. N. xxxv. 4, 23; Val. Max. ii. 4, 6). Hitherto the machinery for thunder had consisted in the shaking of nails and stones in a copper kettle; Pulcher first produced a better thunder by rolling stones, which was thenceforth named "Claudian thunder" (Festus, v. Claudiana, p. 57).

To the close of this epoch belongs the greatest of Roman actors, the freedman Quintus Roscius (d. about 692 at a great age), throughout several generations the ornament and pride of the Roman stage,(19) the friend and welcome boon-companion of Sulla--to whom we shall have to recur in the sequel.

19. Among the few minor poems preserved from this epoch there occurs the following epigram on this illustrious actor:--

-Constiteram, exorientem Auroram forte salutans, Cum subito a laeva Roscius exoritur. Pace mihi liceat, coelestes, dicere vestra; Mortalis visust pulchrior esse deo-.

The author of this epigram, Greek in its tone and inspired by Greek enthusiasm for art, was no less a man than the conqueror of the Cimbri, Quintus Lutatius Catulus, consul in 652.

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