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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 48

With the lying disposition of a poet these chroniclers of rank combine all the tiresome exactness of a notary, and treat their great subject throughout with the dulness which necessarily results from the elimination at once of all poetical and all historical elements. When we read, for instance, in Piso that Romulus avoided indulging in his cups when he had a sitting of the senate next day; or that Tarpeia betrayed the Capitol to the Sabines out of patriotism, with a view to deprive the enemy of their shields; we cannot be surprised at the judgment of intelligent contemporaries as to all this sort of scribbling, "that it was not writing history, but telling stories to children."

Of far greater excellence were isolated works on the history of the recent past and of the present, particularly the history of the Hannibalic war by Lucius Caelius Antipater (about 633) and the history of his own time by Publius Sempronius Asellio, who was a little younger. These exhibited at least valuable materials and an earnest spirit of truth, in the case of Antipater also a lively, although strongly affected, style of narrative; yet, judging from all testimonies and fragments, none of these books came up either in pithy form or in originality to the "Origines" of Cato, who unhappily created as little of a school in the field of history as in that of politics.

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