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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 4

People shrugged their shoulders at the interpolations, with which the homely popular wit of Rome had garnished the elegant comedies of Philemon and Diphilus. Half smiling, half envious, they turned away from the inadequate attempts of a dull age, which that circle probably regarded somewhat as a mature man regards the poetical effusions of his youth; despairing of the transplantation of the marvellous tree, they allowed the higher species of art in poetry and prose substantially to fall into abeyance, and restricted themselves in these departments to an intelligent enjoyment of foreign masterpieces.

The productiveness of this epoch displayed itself chiefly in the subordinate fields of the lighter comedy, the poetical miscellany, the political pamphlet, and the professional sciences. The literary cue was correctness, in the style of art and especially in the language, which, as a more limited circle of persons of culture became separated from the body of the people, was in its turn divided into the classical Latin of higher society and the vulgar Latin of the common people. The prologues of Terence promise "pure Latin"; warfare against faults of language forms a chief element of the Lucilian satire; and with this circumstance is connected the fact, that composition in Greek among the Romans now falls decidedly into the shade.

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