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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 41

It accustomed itself to the use of quicker time, and thereby compelled the player to more lively action. Musical and dramatic connoisseurship was developed; the -habitue- recognized every tune by the first note, and knew the texts by heart; every fault in the music or recitation was severely censured by the audience. The state of the Roman stage in the time of Cicero vividly reminds us of the modern French theatre. As the Roman mime corresponds to the loose tableaux of the pieces of the day, nothing being too good and nothing too bad for either the one or the other, so we find in both the same traditionally classic tragedy and comedy, which the man of culture is in duty bound to admire or at least to applaud.

The multitude is satisfied, when it meets its own reflection in the farce, and admires the decorative pomp and receives the general impression of an ideal world in the drama; the man of higher culture concerns himself at the theatre not with the piece, but only with its artistic representation. Moreover the Roman histrionic art oscillated in its different spheres, just like the French, between the cottage and the drawing-room. It was nothing unusual for the Roman dancing-girls to throw off at the finale the upper robe and to give a dance in undress for the benefit of the public; but on the other hand in the eyes of the Roman Talma the supreme law of his art was, not the truth of nature, but symmetry.

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