Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Constantinople Home Page  

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 16

Roman Vulgarism - Hortensius - Reaction - The Rhodian School

Yet this new style found its way also into the Latin world. When the Greek fashionable rhetoric, after having at the close of the previous epoch obtruded into the Latin instruction of youth,(4) took at the beginning of the present period the final step and mounted the Roman orators' platform in the person of Quintus Hortensius (640-704), the most celebrated pleader of the Sullan age, it adhered closely even in the Latin idiom to the bad Greek taste of the time; and the Roman public, no longer having the pure and chaste culture of the Scipionic age, naturally applauded with zeal the innovator who knew how to give to vulgarism the semblance of an artistic performance.

4. Cf. IV. XII. Latin Instruction

This was of great importance. As in Greece the battles of language were always waged at first in the schools of the rhetoricians, so in Rome the forensic oration to a certain extent even more than literature set the standard of style, and accordingly there was combined, as it were of right, with the leadership of the bar the prerogative of giving the tone to the fashionable mode of speaking and writing. The Asiatic vulgarism of Hortensius thus dislodged classicism from the Roman platform and partly also from literature. But the fashion soon changed once more in Greece and in Rome. In the former it was the Rhodian school of rhetoricians, which, without reverting to all the chaste severity of the Attic style, attempted to strike out a middle course between it and the modern fashion: if the Rhodian masters were not too particular as to the internal correctness of their thinking and speaking, they at least insisted on purity of language and style, on the careful selection of words and phrases, and the giving thorough effect to the modulation of sentences.

Previous / First / Next Page of this Chapter

Do you see any typos or other mistakes? Please let us know and correct them

The History of Old Rome: Contents ||| The Medieval West | The Making of Europe | Constantinople Home Page

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Receive updates :

Learned Freeware

Reference address :