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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


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

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Page 50

Such was the gospel which was preached to the Roman boys of this period, and they came in crowds to hear and to practise it; already (about 700) the love-poems of Euphorion and similar Alexandrian poetry formed the ordinary reading and the ordinary pieces for declamation of the cultivated youth.(19)

19. "No doubt," says Cicero (Tusc. iii. 19, 45) in reference to Ennius, "the glorious poet is despised by our reciters of Euphorion." "I have safely arrived," he writes to Atticus (vii. 2 init.), "as a most favourable north wind blew for us across from Epirus. This spondaic line you may, if you choose, sell to one of the new-fashioned poets as your own" (-ita belle nobis flavit ab Epiro lenissumus Onchesmites. Hunc- --spondeiazonta-- -si cui voles --ton neoteron-- pro tuo vendito-).

The literary revolution took place; but it yielded in the first instance with rare exceptions only premature or unripe fruits. The number of the "new-fashioned poets" was legion, but poetry was rare and Apollo was compelled, as always when so many throng towards Parnassus, to make very short work. The long poems never were worth anything, the short ones seldom. Even in this literary age the poetry of the day had become a public nuisance; it sometimes happened that one's friend would send home to him by way of mockery as a festal present a pile of trashy verses fresh from the bookseller's shop, whose value was at once betrayed by the elegant binding and the smooth paper.

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