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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VIII. THE GREAT AGE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, 264-31 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 15
THE CITY MOB
We know very little about this poorer population of Rome. They must have lived from hand to mouth. Since their votes controlled elections, they were courted by candidates for office and kept from grumbling by being fed and amused. Such poor citizens, too lazy for steady work, too intelligent to starve, formed, with the other riffraff of a great city, the elements of a dangerous mob. And the mob, henceforth, plays an ever- larger part in the history of the times.
HELLENIC INFLUENCE AT ROME
We must not imagine, however, that all the changes in Roman life worked for evil. If the Romans were becoming more luxurious, they were likewise gaining in culture. The conquests which brought Rome in touch, first with Magna Graecia and Sicily, then with Greece itself and the Hellenic East, prepared the way for the entrance of Hellenism. Roman soldiers and traders carried back to Italy an acquaintance with Greek customs and ideas. Thousands of cultivated Greeks, some as slaves, others as freemen, settled in the capital as actors, physicians, artists, and writers. There they introduced the Greek language, as well as the religion, literature, and art of their native land. Roman nobles of the better type began to take an interest in other things than simply farming, commerce, or war. They imitated Greek fashions in dress and manners, collected Greek books, and filled their homes with the productions of Greek artists. Henceforth every aspect of Roman society felt the quickening influence of the older, richer culture of the Hellenic world. It was a Roman poet who wrote, "Captive Greece captured her conqueror rude." 
 Horace, Epistles, ii, 1, 156.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy