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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


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» Contents of this Chapter

Page 24

Extent of the Literary Pursuits of the Romans

In the same measure as the pursuits of the Greek literati prospered in Rome, literary activity and literary interest increased among the Romans themselves. Even Greek composition, which the stricter taste of the Scipionic age had totally set aside, now revived. The Greek language was now universally current, and a Greek treatise found a quite different public from a Latin one; therefore Romans of rank, such as Lucius Lucullus, Marcus Cicero, Titus Atticus, Quintus Scaevola (tribune of the people in 700), like the kings of Armenia and Mauretania, published occasionally Greek prose and even Greek verses.

Such Greek authorship however by native Romans remained a secondary matter and almost an amusement; the literary as well as the political parties of Italy all coincided in adhering to their Italian nationality, only more or less pervaded by Hellenism. Nor could there be any complaint at least as to want of activity in the field of Latin authorship. There was a flood of books and pamphlets of all sorts, and above all of poems, in Rome. Poets swarmed there, as they did only in Tarsus or Alexandria; poetical publications had become the standing juvenile sin of livelier natures, and even then the writer was reckoned fortunate whose youthful poems compassionate oblivion withdrew from criticism.

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