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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

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 54

But not only does Apollo touch the lyre of the poet, he wields also the bow; the winged dart of sarcasm spares neither the tedious verse-maker nor the provincial who corrupts the language, but it hits none more frequently and more sharply than the potentates by whom the liberty of the people is endangered. The short-lined and merry metres, often enlivened by a graceful refrain, are of finished art and yet free from the repulsive smoothness of the manufactory. These poems lead us alternately to the valleys of the Nile and the Po; but the poet is incomparably more at home in the latter.

His poems are based on Alexandrian art doubtless, but at the same time on the self- consciousness of a burgess and a burgess in fact of a rural town, on the contrast of Verona with Rome, on the contrast of the homely municipal with the high-born lords of the senate who usually maltreat their humble friends--as that contrast was probably felt more vividly than anywhere else in Catullus' home, the flourishing and comparatively vigorous Cisalpine Gaul. The most beautiful of his poems reflect the sweet pictures of the Lago di Garda, and hardly at this time could any man of the capital have written a poem like the deeply pathetic one on his brother's death, or the excellent genuinely homely festal hymn for the marriage of Manlius and Aurunculeia.

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