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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


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

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 XII - Religion, Culture, Literature, and Art


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 12

Latin Instruction

The advance in Latin instruction was similar to that of Greek. This in part resulted from the mere reflex influence of the Greek, from which it in fact essentially borrowed its methods and its stimulants. Moreover, the relations of politics, the impulse to mount the orators' platform in the Forum which was imparted by the democratic doings to an ever-widening circle, contributed not a little to the diffusion and enhancement of oratorical exercises; "wherever one casts his eyes," says Cicero, "every place is full of rhetoricians." Besides, the writings of the sixth century, the farther they receded into the past, began to be more decidedly regarded as classical texts of the golden age of Latin literature, and thereby gave a greater preponderance to the instruction which was essentially concentrated upon them.

Lastly the immigration and spreading of barbarian elements from many quarters and the incipient Latinizing of extensive Celtic and Spanish districts, naturally gave to Latin grammar and Latin instruction a higher importance than they could have had, so long as Latium only spoke Latin; the teacher of Latin literature had from the outset a different position in Comum and Narbo than he had in Praeneste and Ardea. Taken as a whole, culture was more on the wane than on the advance. The ruin of the Italian country towns, the extensive intrusion of foreign elements, the political, economic, and moral deterioration of the nation, above all, the distracting civil wars inflicted more injury on the language than all the schoolmasters of the world could repair.

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