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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 39

Dramatic Spectacles

With the worthlessness of dramatic literature the increase of scenic spectacles and of scenic pomp went hand in hand. Dramatic representations obtained their regular place in the public life not only of the capital but also of the country towns; the former also now at length acquired by means of Pompeius a permanent theatre (699;(12)), and the Campanian custom of stretching canvas over the theatre for the protection of the actors and spectators during the performance, which in ancient times always took place in the open air, now likewise found admission to Rome (676).

12. Cf. V. VIII. Attempts of the Regents to Check It

As at that time in Greece it was not the--more than pale-Pleiad of the Alexandrian dramatists, but the classic drama, above all the tragedies of Euripides, which amidst the amplest development of scenic resources kept the stage, so in Rome at the time of Cicero the tragedies of Ennius, Pacuvius, and Accius, and the comedies of Plautus were those chiefly produced. While the latter had been in the previous period supplanted by the more tasteful but in point of comic vigour far inferior Terence, Roscius and Varro, or in other words the theatre and philology, co-operated to procure for him a resurrection similar to that which Shakespeare experienced at the hands of Garrick and Johnson; but even Plautus had to suffer from the degenerate susceptibility and the impatient haste of an audience spoilt by the short and slovenly farces, so that the managers found themselves compelled to excuse the length of the Plautine comedies and even perhaps to make omissions and alterations.

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