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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 7

Polishing more carefully and aspiring to a higher strain than his predecessor, he was regarded by favourable critics of art afterwards as a model of artistic poetry and of rich style: in the fragments, however, that have reached us proofs are not wanting to justify the censure of the poet's language by Cicero and the censure of his taste by Lucilius; his language appears more rugged than that of his predecessor, his style of composition pompous and punctilious.(1)

1. Thus in the -Paulus-, an original piece, the following line occurred, probably in the description of the pass of Pythium (Cf. III. X. Perseus Is Driven Back to Pydna):--

-Qua vix caprigeno generi gradilis gressio est-.

And in another piece the hearers are expected to understand the following description--

-Quadrupes tardigrada agrestis humilis aspera, Capite brevi, cervice anguina, aspectu truci, Eviscerata inanima cum animali sono-.

To which they naturally reply--

-Ita saeptuosa dictione abs te datur, Quod conjectura sapiens aegre contuit; Non intellegimus, nisi si aperte dixeris-.

Then follows the confession that the tortoise is referred to. Such enigmas, moreover, were not wanting even among the Attic tragedians, who on that account were often and sharply taken to task by the Middle Comedy.

There are traces that he like Ennius attached more value to philosophy than to religion; but he did not at any rate, like the latter, prefer dramas chiming in with neological views and preaching sensuous passion or modern enlightenment, and drew without distinction from Sophocles or from Euripides--of that poetry with a decided special aim, which almost stamps Ennius with genius, there can have been no vein in the younger poet.

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