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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 85

Opposition to Ciceronianism - Calvus and His Associates

Cicero's contemporaries however were, as may readily be conceived, far less involved in this strange idolatry than many of their successors. The Ciceronian manner ruled no doubt throughout a generation the Roman advocate-world, just as the far worse manner of Hortensius had done; but the most considerable men, such as Caesar, kept themselves always aloof from it, and among the younger generation there arose in all men of fresh and living talent the most decided opposition to that hybrid and feeble rhetoric.

They found Cicero's language deficient in precision and chasteness, his jests deficient in liveliness, his arrangement deficient in clearness and articulate division, and above all his whole eloquence wanting in the fire which makes the orator. Instead of the Rhodian eclectics men began to recur to the genuine Attic orators especially to Lysias and Demosthenes, and sought to naturalize a more vigorous and masculine eloquence in Rome. Representatives of this tendency were, the solemn but stiff Marcus Junius Brutus (669-712); the two political partisans Marcus Caelius Rufus (672-706;(35)) and Gaius Scribonius Curio (d. 705(36);)-- both as orators full of spirit and life; Calvus well known also as a poet (672-706), the literary coryphaeus of this younger group of orators; and the earnest and conscientious Gaius Asinius Pollio (678-757).

35. Cf. V. XI. Caelius and Milo

36. Cf. V. IX. Curio, V. X. Death of Curio

Undeniably there was more taste and more spirit in this younger oratorical literature than in the Hortensian and Ciceronian put together; but we are not able to judge how far, amidst the storms of the revolution which rapidly swept away the whole of this richly-gifted group with the single exception of Pollio, those better germs attained development. The time allotted to them was but too brief. The new monarchy began by making war on freedom of speech, and soon wholly suppressed the political oration. Thenceforth the subordinate species of the pure advocate-pleading was doubtless still retained in literature; but the higher art and literature of oratory, which thoroughly depend on political excitement, perished with the latter of necessity and for ever.

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