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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 61

As to the poetical value of this dress we are no longer allowed to form any certain judgment; there still occur in our fragments several very charming sketches full of wit and liveliness-- thus in the -Prometheus Liber- the hero after the loosing of his chains opens a manufactory of men, in which Goldshoe the rich (-Chrysosandalos-) bespeaks for himself a maiden, of milk and finest wax, such as the Milesian bees gather from various flowers, a maiden without bones and sinews, without skin or hair, pure and polished, slim, smooth, tender, charming.

The life-breath of this poetry is polemics-- not so much the political warfare of party, such as Lucilius and Catullus practised, but the general moral antagonism of the stern elderly man to the unbridled and perverse youth, of the scholar living in the midst of his classics to the loose and slovenly, or at any rate in point of tendency reprobate, modern poetry,(24) of the good burgess of the ancient type to the new Rome in which the Forum, to use Varro's language, was a pigsty and Numa, if he turned his eyes towards his city, would see no longer a trace of his wise regulations.

24. On one occasion he writes, "-Quintiforis Clodii foria ac poemata ejus gargaridians dices; O fortuna, O fors fortuna-!" And elsewhere, "-Cum Quintipor Clodius tot comoedias sine ulla fecerit Musa, ego unum libellum non 'edolem' ut ait Ennius?-" This not otherwise known Clodius must have been in all probability a wretched imitator of Terence, as those words sarcastically laid at his door "O fortuna, O fors fortuna!" are found occurring in a Terentian comedy.

The following description of himself by a poet in Varro's --Onos Louras--,

-Pacuvi discipulus dicor, porro is fuit Enni,
Ennius Musarum; Pompilius clueor-

might aptly parody the introduction of Lucretius (p. 474), to whom Varro as a declared enemy of the Epicurean system cannot have been well disposed, and whom he never quotes.

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