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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


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» Contents of this Chapter

Page 74

The historiography of this period is certainly remarkable and in a high degree characteristic, but it is as far from pleasing as the age itself. The interpenetration of Greek and Latin literature is in no field so clearly apparent as in that of history; here the respective literatures become earliest equalized in matter and form, and the conception of Graeco-Italic history as an unity, in which Polybius was so far in advance of his age, was now learned even by Greek and Roman boys at school. But while the Mediterranean state had found a historian before it had become conscious of its own existence, now, when that consciousness had been attained, there did not arise either among the Greeks or among the Romans any man who was able to give to it adequate expression.

"There is no such thing," says Cicero, "as Roman historical composition"; and, so far as we can judge, this is no more than the simple truth. The man of research turns away from writing history, the writer of history turns away from research; historical literature oscillates between the schoolbook and the romance. All the species of pure art--epos, drama, lyric poetry, history--are worthless in this worthless world; but in no species is the intellectual decay of the Ciceronian age reflected with so terrible a clearness as in its historiography.

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