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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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Page 35

The Mime - Laberius

In the "picture of life" or mime alone the last still vigorous product of the national literature, the Atellan farce, became engrafted with the ethological offshoots of Greek comedy, which Alexandrinism cultivated with greater poetical vigour and better success than any other branch of poetry. The mime originated out of the dances in character to the flute, which had long been usual, and which were performed sometimes on other occasions, e. g. for the entertainment of the guests during dinner, but more especially in the pit of the theatre during the intervals between the acts.

It was not difficult to form out of these dances--in which the aid of speech had doubtless long since been occasionally employed-- by means of the introduction of a more organized plot and a regular dialogue little comedies, which were yet essentially distinguished from the earlier comedy and even from the farce by the facts, that the dance and the lasciviousness inseparable from such dancing continued in this case to play a chief part, and that the mime, as belonging properly not to the boards but to the pit, threw aside all ideal scenic effects, such as masks for the face and theatrical buskins, and--what was specially important--admitted of the female characters being represented by women.

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