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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 95

As early as that age the old Greek tombs of Capua and Corinth were ransacked for the sake of the bronze and earthenware vessels which had been placed in the tomb along with the dead. for a small statuette of bronze 40,000 sesterces (400 pounds) were paid, and 200,000 (2000 pounds) for a pair of costly carpets; a well-wrought bronze cooking machine came to cost more than an estate. In this barbaric hunting after art the rich amateur was, as might be expected, frequently cheated by those who supplied him; but the economic ruin of Asia Minor in particular so exceedingly rich in artistic products brought many really ancient and rare ornaments and works of art into the market, and from Athens, Syracuse, Cyzicus, Pergamus, Chios, Samos, and other ancient seats of art, everything that was for sale and very much that was not migrated to the palaces and villas of the Roman grandees.

We have already mentioned what treasures of art were to be found within the house of Lucullus, who indeed was accused, perhaps not unjustly, of having gratified his interest in the fine arts at the expense of his duties as a general. The amateurs of art crowded thither as they crowd at present to the Villa Borghese, and complained even then of such treasures being confined to the palaces and country-houses of the men of quality, where they could be seen only with difficulty and after special permission from the possessor. The public buildings on the other hand were far from filled in like proportion with famous works of Greek masters, and in many cases there still stood in the temples of the capital nothing but the old images of the gods carved in wood. As to the exercise of art there is virtually nothing to report; there is hardly mentioned by name from this period any Roman sculptor or painter except a certain Arellius, whose pictures rapidly went off not on account of their artistic value, but because the cunning reprobate furnished, in his pictures of the goddesses faithful portraits of his mistresses for the time being.

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