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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 28

The Greek Alexandrinism

We cannot avoid saying at least so much respecting this remarkable winter-garden of Greek language and art, as is requisite for the understanding of the Roman literature of this and the later epochs. The Alexandrian literature was based on the decline of the pure Greek idiom, which from the time of Alexander the Great was superseded in daily life by an inferior jargon deriving its origin from the contact of the Macedonian dialect with various Greek and barbarian tribes; or, to speak more accurately, the Alexandrian literature sprang out of the ruin of the Greek nation generally, which had to perish, and did perish, in its national individuality in order to establish the universal monarchy of Alexander and the empire of Hellenism.

Had Alexander's universal empire continued to subsist, the former national and popular literature would have been succeeded by a cosmopolitan literature Greek merely in name, essentially denationalized and called into life in a certain measure by royal patronage, but at all events ruling the world; but, as the state of Alexander was unhinged by his death, the germs of the literature corresponding to it rapidly perished. Nevertheless the Greek nation with all that it had possessed-- with its nationality, its language, its art--belonged to the past.

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