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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 5

In so far certainly there is an improvement; inadequate efforts occur in this epoch far less frequently; performances in their kind complete and thoroughly pleasing occur far oftener than before or afterwards; in a linguistic point of view Cicero calls the age of Laelius and Scipio the golden age of pure unadulterated Latin. In like manner literary activity gradually rises in public opinion from a trade to an art. At the beginning of this period the preparation of theatrical pieces at any rate, if not the publication of recitative poems, was still regarded as not becoming for the Roman of quality; Pacuvius and Terence lived by their pieces; the writing of dramas was entirely a trade, and not one of golden produce.

About the time of Sulla the state of matters had entirely changed. The remuneration given to actors at this time proves that even the favourite dramatic poet might then lay claim to a payment, the high amount of which removed the stigma. By this means composing for the stage was raised into a liberal art; and we accordingly find men of the highest aristocratic circles, such as Lucius Caesar (aedile in 664, 667), engaged in writing for the Roman stage and proud of sitting in the Roman "poet's club" by the side of the ancestorless Accius. Art gains in sympathy and honour; but the enthusiasm has departed in life and in literature. The fearless self-confidence, which makes the poet a poet, and which is very decidedly apparent in Plautus especially, is found in none of those that follow; the Epigoni of the men that fought with Hannibal are correct, but feeble.

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