Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The History Of Rome, Book III by Theodor Mommsen

Part 10 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the almost always clever and often excellent dialogue, and, above all,
a broad and fresh humour, which produces an irresistible comic effect
with its happy jokes, its rich vocabulary of nicknames, its whimsical
coinage of words, its pungent, often mimic, descriptions and
situations--excellences, in which we seem to recognize the former
actor. Undoubtedly the editor even in these respects retained what
was successful in the originals rather than furnished contributions
of his own. Those portions of the pieces which can with certainty
be traced to the translator are, to say the least, mediocre; but they
enable us to understand why Plautus became and remained the true
popular poet of Rome and the true centre of the Roman stage, and
why even after the passing away of the Roman world the theatre has
repeatedly reverted to his plays.


Still less are we able to form a special opinion as to the third
and last--for though Ennius wrote comedies, he did so altogether
unsuccessfully--comedian of note in this epoch, Statins Caecilius. He
resembled Plautus in his position in life and his profession. Born in
Cisalpine Gaul in the district of Mediolanum, he was brought among the
Insubrian prisoners of war(33) to Rome, and earned a livelihood, first
as a slave, afterwards as a freedman, by remodelling Greek comedies
for the theatre down to his probably early death (586). His language
was not pure, as was to be expected from his origin; on the other
hand, he directed his efforts, as we have already said,(34) to a more
artistic construction of the plot. His pieces experienced but a dull
reception from his contemporaries, and the public of later times laid
aside Caecilius for Plautus and Terence; and, if nevertheless the
critics of the true literary age of Rome--the Varronian and Augustan
epoch--assigned to Caecilius the first place among the Roman editors
of Greek comedies, this verdict appears due to the mediocrity of the
connoisseur gladly preferring a kindred spirit of mediocrity in the
poet to any special features of excellence. These art-critics
probably took Caecilius under their wing, simply because he was more
regular than Plautus and more vigorous than Terence; notwithstanding
which he may very well have been far inferior to both.

Moral Result

If therefore the literary historian, while fully acknowledging the
very respectable talents of the Roman comedians, cannot recognize
in their mere stock of translations a product either artistically
important or artistically pure, the judgment of history respecting its
moral aspects must necessarily be far more severe. The Greek comedy
which formed its basis was morally so far a matter of indifference, as
it was simply on the same level of corruption with its audience; but
the Roman drama was, at this epoch when men were wavering between the
old austerity and the new corruption, the academy at once of Hellenism
and of vice. This Attico-Roman comedy, with its prostitution of body
and soul usurping the name of love--equally immoral in shamelessness
and in sentimentality--with its offensive and unnatural generosity,
with its uniform glorification of a life of debauchery, with its
mixture of rustic coarseness and foreign refinement, was one
continuous lesson of Romano-Hellenic demoralization, and was felt
as such. A proof of this is preserved in the epilogue of the
-Captivi- of Plautus:--

-Spectators, ad pudicos mores facta haec fabulast.
Neque in hoc subigitationes sunt neque ulla amatio
Nec pueri suppositio nec argenti circumductio,
Neque ubi amans adulescens scortum liberet clam suum patrem.
Huius modi paucas poetae reperiunt comoedias,
Ubi boni meliores fiant. Nunc vos, si vobis placet,
Et si placuimus neque odio fuimus, signum hoc mittite;
Qui pudicitiae esse voltis praemium, plausum date!-

We see here the opinion entertained regarding the Greek comedy by
the party of moral reform; and it may be added, that even in those
rarities, moral comedies, the morality was of a character only adapted
to ridicule innocence more surely. Who can doubt that these dramas
gave a practical impulse to corruption? When Alexander the Great
derived no pleasure from a comedy of this sort which its author read
before him, the poet excused himself by saying that the fault lay not
with him, but with the king; that, in order to relish such a piece, a
man must be in the habit of holding revels and of giving and receiving
blows in an intrigue. The man knew his trade: if, therefore, the
Roman burgesses gradually acquired a taste for these Greek comedies,
we see at what a price it was bought. It is a reproach to the Roman
government not that it did so little in behalf of this poetry, but
that it tolerated it at all Vice no doubt is powerful even without a
pulpit; but that is no excuse for erecting a pulpit to proclaim it.
To debar the Hellenic comedy from immediate contact with the persons
and institutions of Rome, was a subterfuge rather than a serious means
of defence. In fact, comedy would probably have been much less
injurious morally, had they allowed it to have a more free course,
so that the calling of the poet might have been ennobled and a Roman
poetry in some measure independent might have been developed; for
poetry is also a moral power, and, if it inflicts deep wounds, it can
do much to heal them. As it was, in this field also the government
did too little and too much; the political neutrality and moral
hypocrisy of its stage-police contributed their part to the fearfully
rapid breaking up of the Roman nation.

National Comedy

But, while the government did not allow the Roman comedian to depict
the state of things in his native city or to bring his fellow-citizens
on the stage, a national Latin comedy was not absolutely precluded
from springing up; for the Roman burgesses at this period were not yet
identified with the Latin nation, and the poet was at liberty to lay
the plot of his pieces in the Italian towns of Latin rights just as
in Athens or Massilia. In this way, in fact, the Latin original
comedy arose (-fabula togata- (35)): the earliest known composer
of such pieces, Titinius, flourished probably about the close of
this period.(36)

This comedy was also based on the new Attic intrigue-piece; it was
not translation, however, but imitation; the scene of the piece lay
in Italy, and the actors appeared in the national dress,(37) the
-toga-. Here the Latin life and doings were brought out with peculiar
freshness. The pieces delineate the civil life of the middle-sized
towns of Latium; the very titles, such as -Psaltria- or -Ferentinatis-
, -Tibicina-, -Iurisperita-, -Fullones-, indicate this; and many
particular incidents, such as that of the townsman who has his shoes
made after the model of the sandals of the Alban kings, tend to
confirm it. The female characters preponderate in a remarkable manner
over the male.(38) With genuine national pride the poet recalls
the great times of the Pyrrhic war, and looks down on his new
Latin neighbours,--

-Qui Obsce et Volsce fabulantur; nam Latine nesciunt.-

This comedy belongs to the stage of the capital quite as much as did
the Greek; but it was probably animated by something of that rustic
antagonism to the ways and the evils of a great town, which appeared
contemporaneously in Cato and afterwards in Varro. As in the German
comedy, which proceeded from the French in much the same way as the
Roman comedy from the Attic, the French Lisette was very soon
superseded by the -Frauenzimmerchen- Franziska, so the Latin national
comedy sprang up, if not with equal poetical power, at any rate with
the same tendency and perhaps with similar success, by the side of
the Hellenizing comedy of the capital.


Greek tragedy as well as Greek comedy came in the course of this epoch
to Rome. It was a more valuable, and in a certain respect also an
easier, acquisition than comedy. The Greek and particularly the
Homeric epos, which was the basis of tragedy, was not unfamiliar
to the Romans, and was already interwoven with their own national
legends; and the susceptible foreigner found himself far more at home
in the ideal world of the heroic myths than in the fish-market of
Athens. Nevertheless tragedy also promoted, only with less abruptness
and less vulgarity, the anti-national and Hellenizing spirit; and in
this point of view it was a circumstance of the most decisive
importance, that the Greek tragic stage of this period was chiefly
under the sway of Euripides (274-348). This is not the place for a
thorough delineation of that remarkable man and of his still more
remarkable influence on his contemporaries and posterity; but the
intellectual movements of the later Greek and the Graeco-Roman epoch
were to so great an extent affected by him, that it is indispensable
to sketch at least the leading outlines of his character. Euripides
was one of those poets who raise poetry doubtless to a higher level,
but in this advance manifest far more the true sense of what ought to
be than the power of poetically creating it The profound saying which
morally as well as poetically sums up all tragic art--that action is
passion--holds true no doubt also of ancient tragedy; it exhibits
man in action, but it makes no real attempt to individualize him.
The unsurpassed grandeur with which the struggle between man and
destiny fulfils its course in Aeschylus depends substantially on
the circumstance, that each of the contending powers is only conceived
broadly and generally; the essential humanity in Prometheus and
Agamemnon is but slightly tinged by poetic individualizing. Sophocles
seizes human nature under its general conditions, the king, the old
man, the sister; but not one of his figures displays the microcosm of
man in all his aspects--the features of individual character. A high
stage was here reached, but not the highest; the delineation of man
in his entireness and the entwining of these individual--in themselves
finished--figures into a higher poetical whole form a greater
achievement, and therefore, as compared with Shakespeare, Aeschylus
and Sophocles represent imperfect stages of development. But, when
Euripides undertook to present man as he is, the advance was logical
and in a certain sense historical rather than poetical. He was
able to destroy the ancient tragedy, but not to create the modern.
Everywhere he halted half-way. Masks, through which the expression
of the life of the soul is, as it were, translated from the particular
into the general, were as necessary for the typical tragedy of
antiquity as they are incompatible with the tragedy of character;
but Euripides retained them. With remarkably delicate tact the older
tragedy had never presented the dramatic element, to which it was
unable to allow free scope, unmixed, but had constantly fettered it
in some measure by epic subjects from the superhuman world of gods and
heroes and by the lyrical choruses. One feels that Euripides was
impatient under these fetters: with his subjects he came down at least
to semi-historic times, and his choral chants were of so subordinate
importance, that they were frequently omitted in subsequent
performance and hardly to the injury of the pieces; but yet he has
neither placed his figures wholly on the ground of reality, nor
entirely thrown aside the chorus. Throughout and on all sides he is
the full exponent of an age in which, on the one hand, the grandest
historical and philosophical movement was going forward, but in which,
on the other hand, the primitive fountain of all poetry--a pure and
homely national life--had become turbid. While the reverential piety
of the older tragedians sheds over their pieces as it were a reflected
radiance of heaven; while the limitation of the narrow horizon of the
older Hellenes exercises its satisfying power even over the hearer;
the world of Euripides appears in the pale glimmer of speculation as
much denuded of gods as it is spiritualised, and gloomy passions shoot
like lightnings athwart the gray clouds. The old deeply-rooted faith
in destiny has disappeared; fate governs as an outwardly despotic
power, and the slaves gnash their teeth as they wear its fetters.
That unbelief, which is despairing faith, speaks in this poet with
superhuman power. Of necessity therefore the poet never attains a
plastic conception overpowering himself, and never reaches a truly
poetic effect on the whole; for which reason he was in some measure
careless as to the construction of his tragedies, and indeed not
unfrequently altogether spoiled them in this respect by providing no
central interest either of plot or person--the slovenly fashion of
weaving the plot in the prologue, and of unravelling it by a -Deus ex
machina- or a similar platitude, was in reality brought into vogue by
Euripides. All the effect in his case lies in the details; and with
great art certainly every effort has in this respect been made to
conceal the irreparable want of poetic wholeness. Euripides is
a master in what are called effects; these, as a rule, have a
sensuously-sentimental colouring, and often moreover stimulate
the sensuous impression by a special high seasoning, such as the
interweaving of subjects relating to love with murder or incest.
The delineations of Polyxena willing to die and of Phaedra pining
away under the grief of secret love, above all the splendid picture
of the mystic ecstasies of the Bacchae, are of the greatest beauty
in their kind; but they are neither artistically nor morally pure,
and the reproach of Aristophanes, that the poet was unable to paint a
Penelope, was thoroughly well founded. Of a kindred character is the
introduction of common compassion into the tragedy of Euripides.
While his stunted heroes or heroines, such as Menelaus in the -Helena-,
Andromache, Electra as a poor peasant's wife, the sick and ruined
merchant Telephus, are repulsive or ridiculous and ordinarily both,
the pieces, on the other hand, which keep more to the atmosphere of
common reality and exchange the character of tragedy for that of the
touching family-piece or that almost of sentimental comedy, such as
the -Iphigenia in Aulis-, the -Ion-, the -Alcestis-, produce perhaps
the most pleasing effect of all his numerous works. With equal
frequency, but with less success, the poet attempts to bring into play
an intellectual interest. Hence springs the complicated plot, which
is calculated not like the older tragedy to move the feelings, but
rather to keep curiosity on the rack; hence the dialectically pointed
dialogue, to us non-Athenians often absolutely intolerable; hence the
apophthegms, which are scattered throughout the pieces of Euripides
like flowers in a pleasure-garden; hence above all the psychology of
Euripides, which rests by no means on direct reproduction of human
experience, but on rational reflection. His Medea is certainly in so
far painted from life, that she is before departure properly provided
with money for her voyage; but of the struggle in the soul between
maternal love and jealousy the unbiassed reader will not find much in
Euripides. But, above all, poetic effect is replaced in the tragedies
of Euripides by moral or political purpose. Without strictly or
directly entering on the questions of the day, and having in view
throughout social rather than political questions, Euripides in the
legitimate issues of his principles coincided with the contemporary
political and philosophical radicalism, and was the first and chief
apostle of that new cosmopolitan humanity which broke up the old Attic
national life. This was the ground at once of that opposition which
the ungodly and un-Attic poet encountered among his contemporaries,
and of that marvellous enthusiasm, with which the younger generation
and foreigners devoted themselves to the poet of emotion and of love,
of apophthegm and of tendency, of philosophy and of humanity. Greek
tragedy in the hands of Euripides stepped beyond its proper sphere and
consequently broke down; but the success of the cosmopolitan poet was
only promoted by this, since at the same time the nation also stepped
beyond its sphere and broke down likewise. The criticism of
Aristophanes probably hit the truth exactly both in a moral and in a
poetical point of view; but poetry influences the course of history
not in proportion to its absolute value, but in proportion as it is
able to forecast the spirit of the age, and in this respect Euripides
was unsurpassed. And thus it happened, that Alexander read him
diligently; that Aristotle developed the idea of the tragic poet with
special reference to him; that the latest poetic and plastic art in
Attica as it were originated from him (for the new Attic comedy did
nothing but transfer Euripides into a comic form, and the school of
painters which we meet with in the designs of the later vases derived
its subjects no longer from the old epics, but from the Euripidean
tragedy); and lastly that, the more the old Hellas gave place to the
new Hellenism, the more the fame and influence of the poet increased,
and Greek life abroad, in Egypt as well as in Rome, was directly or
indirectly moulded in the main by Euripides.

Roman Tragedy

The Hellenism of Euripides flowed to Rome through very various
channels, and probably produced a speedier and deeper effect there
by indirect means than in the form of direct translation. The tragic
drama in Rome was not exactly later in its rise than the comic;(39)
but the far greater expense of putting a tragedy on the stage--which
was undoubtedly felt as a consideration of moment, at least during the
Hannibalic war--as well as the nature of the audience(40) retarded the
development of tragedy. In the comedies of Plautus the allusions to
tragedies are not very frequent, and most references of this kind may
have been taken from the originals. The first and only influential
tragedian of this epoch was the younger contemporary of Naevius
and Plautus, Quintus Ennius (515-585), whose pieces were already
travestied by contemporary comic writers, and were exhibited and
declaimed by posterity down to the days of the empire.

The tragic drama of the Romans is far less known to us than the comic:
on the whole the same features, which have been noticed in the case of
comedy, are presented by tragedy also. The dramatic stock, in like
manner, was mainly formed by translations of Greek pieces. The
preference was given to subjects derived from the siege of Troy and
the legends immediately connected with it, evidently because this
cycle of myths alone was familiar to the Roman public through
instruction at school; by their side incidents of striking horror
predominate, such as matricide or infanticide in the -Eumenides-,
the -Alcmaeon-, the -Cresphontes-, the -Melanippe-, the -Medea-, and
the immolation of virgins in the -Polyxena-, the -Erechthides-, the
-Andromeda-, the -Iphigenia- --we cannot avoid recalling the fact,
that the public for which these tragedies were prepared was in the
habit of witnessing gladiatorial games. The female characters and
ghosts appear to have made the deepest impression. In addition to the
rejection of masks, the most remarkable deviation of the Roman edition
from the original related to the chorus. The Roman theatre, fitted up
doubtless in the first instance for comic plays without chorus, had
not the special dancing-stage (-orchestra-) with the altar in the
middle, on which the Greek chorus performed its part, or, to speak
more correctly, the space thus appropriated among the Greeks served
with the Romans as a sort of pit; accordingly the choral dance at
least, with its artistic alternations and intermixture of music and
declamation, must have been omitted in Rome, and, even if the chorus
was retained, it had but little importance. Of course there were
various alterations of detail, changes in the metres, curtailments,
and disfigurements; in the Latin edition of the -Iphigenia- of
Euripides, for instance, the chorus of women was--either after the
model of another tragedy, or by the editor's own device--converted
into a chorus of soldiers. The Latin tragedies of the sixth century
cannot be pronounced good translations in our sense of the word;(41)
yet it is probable that a tragedy of Ennius gave a far less imperfect
image of the original of Euripides than a comedy of Plautus gave of
the original of Menander.

Moral Effect Of Tragedy

The historical position and influence of Greek tragedy in Rome
were entirely analogous to those of Greek comedy; and while, as
the difference in the two kinds of composition necessarily implied,
the Hellenistic tendency appeared in tragedy under a purer and more
spiritual form, the tragic drama of this period and its principal
representative Ennius displayed far more decidedly an anti-national
and consciously propagandist aim. Ennius, hardly the most important
but certainly the most influential poet of the sixth century, was not
a Latin by birth, but on the contrary by virtue of his origin half a
Greek. Of Messapian descent and Hellenic training, he settled in his
thirty-fifth year at Rome, and lived there--at first as a resident
alien, but after 570 as a burgess(42)--in straitened circumstances,
supported partly by giving instruction in Latin and Greek, partly by
the proceeds of his pieces, partly by the donations of those Roman
grandees, who, like Publius Scipio, Titus Flamininus, and Marcus
Fulvius Nobilior, were inclined to promote the modern Hellenism and
to reward the poet who sang their own and their ancestors' praises and
even accompanied some of them to the field in the character, as it
were, of a poet laureate nominated beforehand to celebrate the great
deeds which they were to perform. He has himself elegantly described
the client-like qualities requisite for such a calling.(43) From the
outset and by virtue of the whole tenor of his life a cosmopolite, he
had the skill to appropriate the distinctive features of the nations
among which he lived--Greek, Latin, and even Oscan--without devoting
himself absolutely to any cne of them; and while the Hellenism of the
earlier Roman poets was the result rather than the conscious aim of
their poetic activity, and accordingly they at least attempted more or
less to take their stand on national ground, Ennius on the contrary is
very distinctly conscious of his revolutionary tendency, and evidently
labours with zeal to bring into vogue neologico-Hellenic ideas among
the Italians. His most serviceable instrument was tragedy. The
remains of his tragedies show that he was well acquainted with the
whole range of the Greek tragic drama and with Aeschylus and Sophocles
in particular; it is the less therefore the result of accident, that
he has modelled the great majority of his pieces, and all those that
attained celebrity, on Euripides. In the selection and treatment he
was doubtless influenced partly by external considerations. But these
alone cannot account for his bringing forward so decidedly the
Euripidean element in Euripides; for his neglecting the choruses still
more than did his original; for his laying still stronger emphasis on
sensuous effect than the Greek; nor for his taking up pieces like the
-Thyestes- and the -Telephus- so well known from the immortal ridicule
of Aristophanes, with their princes' woes and woful princes, and even
such a piece as Menalippa the Female Philosopher, in which the whole
plot turns on the absurdity of the national religion, and the tendency
to make war on it from the physicist point of view is at once
apparent. The sharpest arrows are everywhere--and that partly in
passages which can be proved to have been inserted(44)--directed
against faith in the miraculous, and we almost wonder that the
censorship of the Roman stage allowed such tirades to pass as
the following:--

-Ego deum genus esse semper dixi et dicam caelitum,
Sed eos non curare opinor, quid agat humanum genus;
Nam si curent, bene bonis sit, male malis, quod nunc abest.-

We have already remarked(45) that Ennius scientifically inculcated the
same irreligion in a didactic poem of his own; and it is evident that
he was in earnest with this freethinking. With this trait other
features are quite accordant--his political opposition tinged with
radicalism, that here and there appears;(46) his singing the praises
of the Greek pleasures of the table;(47) above all his setting aside
the last national element in Latin poetry, the Saturnian measure, and
substituting for it the Greek hexameter. That the "multiform" poet
executed all these tasks with equal neatness, that he elaborated
hexameters out of a language of by no means dactylic structure, and
that without checking the natural flow of his style he moved with
confidence and freedom amidst unwonted measures and forms--are so many
evidences of his extraordinary plastic talent, which was in fact more
Greek than Roman;(48) where he offends us, the offence is owing much
more frequently to Greek alliteration(49) than to Roman ruggedness.
He was not a great poet, but a man of graceful and sprightly talent,
throughout possessing the vivid sensibilities of a poetic nature, but
needing the tragic buskin to feel himself a poet and wholly destitute
of the comic vein. We can understand the pride with which the
Hellenizing poet looked down on those rude strains --

-quos olim Faunei vatesque canebant,-

and the enthusiasm with which he celebrates his own artistic poetry:

-Enni foeta, salve,
Versus propinas flammeos medullitus.-

The clever man had an instinctive assurance that he had spread his
sails to a prosperous breeze; Greek tragedy became, and thenceforth
remained, a possession of the Latin nation.

National Dramas

Through less frequented paths, and with a less favourable wind, a
bolder mariner pursued a higher aim. Naevius not only like Ennius
--although with far less success--adapted Greek tragedies for the
Roman stage, but also attempted to create, independently of the
Greeks, a grave national drama (-fabula praetextata-). No outward
obstacles here stood in the way; he brought forward subjects both
from Roman legend and from the contemporary history of the country on
the stage of his native land. Such were his Nursing of Romulus and
Remus or the Wolf, in which Amulius king of Alba appeared, and his
-Clastidium-, which celebrated the victory of Marcellus over the
Celts in 532.(49) After his example, Ennius in his -Ambracia-
described from personal observation the siege of that city by his
patron Nobilior in 565.(50) But the number of these national dramas
remained small, and that species of composition soon disappeared from
the stage; the scanty legend and the colourless history of Rome were
unable permanently to compete with the rich cycle of Hellenic legends.
Respecting the poetic value of the pieces we have no longer the means
of judging; but, if we may take account of the general poetical
intention, there were in Roman literature few such strokes of genius
as the creation of a Roman national drama. Only the Greek tragedians
of that earliest period which still felt itself nearer to the gods
--only poets like Phrynichus and Aeschylus--had the courage to bring
the great deeds which they had witnessed, and in which they had borne
a part, on the stage by the side of those of legendary times; and
here, if anywhere, we are enabled vividly to realize what the Punic
wars were and how powerful was their effect, when we find a poet,
who like Aeschylus had himself fought in the battles which he sang,
introducing the kings and consuls of Rome upon that stage on which
men had hitherto been accustomed to see none but gods and heroes.

Recitative Poetry

Recitative poetry also took its rise during this epoch at Rome.
Livius naturalized the custom which among the ancients held the
place of our modern publication--the public reading of new works by
the author--in Rome, at least to the extent of reciting them in his
school. As poetry was not in this instance practised with a view to
a livelihood, or at any rate not directly so, this branch of it was
not regarded by public opinion with such disfavour as writing for the
stage: towards the end of this epoch one or two Romans of quality had
publicly come forward in this manner as poets.(51) Recitative poetry
however was chiefly cultivated by those poets who occupied themselves
with writing for the stage, and the former held a subordinate place as
compared with the latter; in fact, a public to which read poetry might
address itself can have existed only to a very limited extent at this
period in Rome.


Above all, lyrical, didactic, and epigrammatic poetry found but feeble
representation. The religious festival chants--as to which the annals
of this period certainly have already thought it worth while to
mention the author--as well as the monumental inscriptions on temples
and tombs, for which the Saturnian remained the regular measure,
hardly belong to literature proper. So far as the minor poetry makes
its appearance at all, it presents itself ordinarily, and that as
early as the time of Naevius, under the name of -satura-. This term
was originally applied to the old stage-poem without action, which
from the time of Livius was driven off the stage by the Greek drama;
but in its application to recitative poetry it corresponds in some
measure to our "miscellaneous poems," and like the latter denotes not
any positive species or style of art, but simply poems not of an epic
or dramatic kind, treating of any matters (mostly subjective), and
written in any form, at the pleasure of the author. In addition to
Cato's "poem on Morals" to be noticed afterwards, which was presumably
written in Saturnian verses after the precedent of the older first
attempts at a national didactic poetry,(52) there came under this
category especially the minor poems of Ennius, which that writer,
who was very fertile in this department, published partly in his
collection of -saturae-, partly separately. Among these were brief
narrative poems relating to the legendary or contemporary history of
his country; editions of the religious romance of Euhemerus,(53) of
the poems dealing with natural philosophy circulating in the name
of Epicharmus,(54) and of the gastronomies of Archestratus of Gela,
a poet who treated of the higher cookery; as also a dialogue between
Life and Death, fables of Aesop, a collection of moral maxims,
parodies and epigrammatic trifles--small matters, but indicative
of the versatile powers as well as the neological didactic tendencies
of the poet, who evidently allowed himself the freest range in this
field, which the censorship did not reach.

Metrical Annals

The attempts at a metrical treatment of the national annals lay
claim to greater poetical and historical importance. Here too it was
Naevius who gave poetic form to so much of the legendary as well as
of the contemporary history as admitted of connected narrative; and
who, more especially, recorded in the half-prosaic Saturnian national
metre the story of the first Punic war simply and distinctly, with
a straightforward adherence to fact, without disdaining anything at
all as unpoetical, and without at all, especially in the description
of historical times, going in pursuit of poetical flights or
embellishments--maintaining throughout his narrative the present
tense.(55) What we have already said of the national drama of the
same poet, applies substantially to the work of which we are now
speaking. The epic, like the tragic, poetry of the Greeks lived and
moved essentially in the heroic period; it was an altogether new and,
at least in design, an enviably grand idea--to light up the present
with the lustre of poetry. Although in point of execution the
chronicle of Naevius may not have been much better than the rhyming
chronicles of the middle ages, which are in various respects of
kindred character, yet the poet was certainly justified in regarding
this work of his with an altogether peculiar complacency. It was no
small achievement, in an age when there was absolutely no historical
literature except official records, to have composed for his
countrymen a connected account of the deeds of their own and the
earlier time, and in addition to have placed before their eyes
the noblest incidents of that history in a dramatic form.


Ennius proposed to himself the very same task as Naevius; but the
similarity of the subject only brings out into stronger relief the
political and poetical contrast between the national and the anti-
national poet. Naevius sought out for the new subject a new form;
Ennius fitted or forced it into the forms of the Hellenic epos. The
hexameter took the place of the Saturnian verse; the ornate style of
the Homeridae, striving after plastic vividness of delineation,
took the place of the homely historic narrative. Wherever the
circumstances admit, Homer is directly translated; e. g. the burial of
those that fell at Heraclea is described after the model of the burial
of Patroclus, and under the helmet of Marcus Livius Stolo, the
military tribune who fights with the Istrians, lurks none other than
the Homeric Ajax; the reader is not even spared the Homeric invocation
of the Muse. The epic machinery is fully set agoing; after the battle
of Cannae, for instance, Juno in a full council of the gods pardons
the Romans, and Jupiter after obtaining the consent of his wife
promises them a final victory over the Carthaginians. Nor do the
"Annals" fail to betray the neological and Hellenistic tendencies of
the author. The very employment of the gods for mere decoration bears
this stamp. The remarkable vision, with which the poem opens, tells
in good Pythagorean style how the soul now inhabiting Quintus Ennius
had previously been domiciled in Homer and still earlier in a peacock,
and then in good physicist style explains the nature of things and
the relation of the body to the mind. Even the choice of the subject
serves the same purpose--at any rate the Hellenic literati of all ages
have found an especially suitable handle for their Graeco-cosmopolite
tendencies in this very manipulation of Roman history. Ennius lays
stress on the circumstance that the Romans were reckoned Greeks:

-Contendunt Graecos, Graios memorare solent sos.-

The poetical value of the greatly celebrated Annals may easily be
estimated after the remarks which we have already made regarding the
excellences and defects of the poet in general. It was natural that
as a poet of lively sympathies, he should feel himself elevated by the
enthusiastic impulse which the great age of the Punic wars gave to the
national sensibilities of Italy, and that he should not only often
happily imitate Homeric simplicity, but should also and still more
frequently make his lines strikingly echo the solemnity and decorum of
the Roman character. But the construction of his epic was defective;
indeed it must have been very lax and indifferent, when it was
possible for the poet to insert a special book by way of supplement
to please an otherwise forgotten hero and patron. On the whole the
Annals were beyond question the work in which Ennius fell farthest
short of his aim. The plan of making an Iliad pronounces its own
condemnation. It was Ennius, who in this poem for the first time
introduced into literature that changeling compound of epos and of
history, which from that time up to the present day haunts it like a
ghost, unable either to live or to die. But the poem certainly had
its success. Ennius claimed to be the Roman Homer with still greater
ingenuousness than Klopstock claimed to be the German, and was
received as such by his contemporaries and still more so by posterity.
The veneration for the father of Roman poetry was transmitted from
generation to generation; even the polished Quintilian says, "Let us
revere Ennius as we revere an ancient sacred grove, whose mighty oaks
of a thousand years are more venerable than beautiful;" and, if any
one is disposed to wonder at this, he may recall analogous phenomena
in the successes of the Aeneid, the Henriad, and the Messiad. A
mighty poetical development of the nation would indeed have set
aside that almost comic official parallel between the Homeric
Iliad and the Ennian

Annals as easily as we have set aside the comparison of Karschin
with Sappho and of Willamov with Pindar; but no such development took
place in Rome. Owing to the interest of the subject especially for
aristocratic circles, and the great plastic talent of the poet, the
Annals remained the oldest Roman original poem which appeared to the
culture of later generations readable or worth reading; and thus,
singularly enough, posterity came to honour this thoroughly anti-
national epos of a half-Greek -litterateur- as the true model
poem of Rome.

Prose Literature

A prose literature arose in Rome not much later than Roman poetry,
but in a very different way. It experienced neither the artificial
furtherance, by which the school and the stage prematurely forced the
growth of Roman poetry, nor the artificial restraint, to which Roman
comedy in particular was subjected by the stern and narrow-minded
censorship of the stage. Nor was this form of literary activity
placed from the outset under the ban of good society by the stigma
which attached to the "ballad-singer." Accordingly the prose
literature, while far less extensive and less active than the
contemporary poetical authorship, had a far more natural growth.
While poetry was almost wholly in the hands of men of humble rank and
not a single Roman of quality appears among the celebrated poets of
this age, there is, on the contrary, among the prose writers of this
period hardly a name that is not senatorial; and it is from the
circles of the highest aristocracy, from men who had been consuls and
censors--the Fabii, the Gracchi, the Scipios--that this literature
throughout proceeds. The conservative and national tendency, in the
nature of the case, accorded better with this prose authorship than
with poetry; but here too--and particularly in the most important
branch of this literature, historical composition--the Hellenistic
bent had a powerful, in fact too powerful, influence both on matter
and form.

Writing Of History

Down to the period of the Hannibalic war there was no historical
composition in Rome; for the entries in the book of Annals were of the
nature of records and not of literature, and never made any attempt to
develop the connection of events. It is a significant illustration of
the peculiarity of Roman character, that notwithstanding the extension
of the power of the Roman community far beyond the bounds of Italy,
and notwithstanding the constant contact of the noble society of Rome
with the Greeks who were so fruitful in literary activity, it was not
till the middle of the sixth century that there was felt the need and
desire of imparting a knowledge of the deeds and fortunes of the Roman
people, by means of authorship, to the contemporary world and to
posterity. When at length this desire was felt, there were neither
literary forms ready at hand for the use of Roman history, nor was
there a public prepared to read it, and great talent and considerable
time were required to create both. In the first instance,
accordingly, these difficulties were in some measure evaded by writing
the national history either in the mother-tongue but in that case in
verse, or in prose but in that case in Greek. We have already spoken
of the metrical chronicles of Naevius (written about 550?) and of
Ennius (written about 581); both belong to the earliest historical
literature of the Romans, and the work of Naevius may be regarded as
the oldest of all Roman historical works. At nearly the same period
were composed the Greek "Histories" of Quintus Fabius Pictor(56)
(after 553), a man of noble family who took an active part in state
affairs during the Hannibalic war, and of Publius Scipio, the son of
Scipio Africanus (about 590). In the former case they availed
themselves of the poetical art which was already to a certain extent
developed, and addressed themselves to a public with a taste for
poetry, which was not altogether wanting; in the latter case they
found the Greek forms ready to their hand, and addressed themselves
--as the interest of their subject stretching far beyond the bounds
of Latium naturally suggested--primarily to the cultivated foreigner.
The former plan was adopted by the plebeian authors, the latter by
those of quality; just as in the time of Frederick the Great an
aristocratic literature in the French language subsisted side by side
with the native German authorship of pastors and professors, and,
while men like Gleim and Ramler wrote war-songs in German, kings and
generals wrote military histories in French. Neither the metrical
chronicles nor the Greek annals by Roman authors constituted Latin
historical composition in the proper sense; this only began with Cato,
whose "Origines," not published before the close of this epoch, formed
at once the oldest historical work written in Latin and the first
important prose work in Roman literature.(57)

All these works, while not coming up to the Greek conception of
history,(58) were, as contrasted with the mere detached notices of
the book of Annals, systematic histories with a connected narrative
and a more or less regular structure. They all, so far as we can see,
embraced the national history from the building of Rome down to the
time of the writer, although in point of title the work of Naevius
related only to the first war with Carthage, and that of Cato only
to the very early history. They were thus naturally divided into
the three sections of the legendary period, of earlier, and of
contemporary, history.

History Of The Origin Of Rome

In the legendary period the history of the origin of the city of Rome
was set forth with great minuteness; and in its case the peculiar
difficulty had to be surmounted, that there were, as we have already
shown,(59) two wholly irreconcileable versions of it in circulation:
the national version, which, in its leading outlines at least, was
probably already embodied in the book of Annals, and the Greek
version of Timaeus, which cannot have remained unknown to these Roman
chroniclers. The object of the former was to connect Rome with
Alba, that of the latter to connect Rome with Troy; in the former
accordingly the city was built by Romulus son of the Alban king,
in the latter by the Trojan prince Aeneas. To the present epoch,
probably either to Naevius or to Pictor, belongs the amalgamation of
the two stories. The Alban prince Romulus remains the founder of
Rome, but becomes at the same time the grandson of Aeneas; Aeneas does
not found Rome, but is represented as bringing the Roman Penates to
Italy and building Lavinium as their shrine, while his son Ascanius
founds Alba Longa, the mother-city of Rome and the ancient metropolis
of Latium. All this was a sorry and unskilful patchwork. The view
that the original Penates of Rome were preserved not, as had hitherto
been believed, in their temple in the Roman Forum, but in the shrine
at Lavinium, could not but be offensive to the Romans; and the Greek
fiction was a still worse expedient, inasmuch as under it the gods
only bestowed on the grandson what they had adjudged to the grandsire.
But the redaction served its object: without exactly denying the
national origin of Rome, it yet deferred to the Hellenizing tendency,
and legalized in some degree that desire to claim kindred with Aeneas
and his descendants which was already at this epoch greatly in
vogue;(60) and thus it became the stereotyped, and was soon accepted
as the official, account of the origin of the mighty community.

Apart from the fable of the origin of the city, the Greek
historiographers had otherwise given themselves little or no concern
as to the Roman commonwealth; so that the presentation of the further
course of the national history must have been chiefly derived from
native sources. But the scanty information that has reached us does
not enable us to discern distinctly what sort of traditions, in
addition to the book of Annals, were at the command of the earliest
chroniclers, and what they may possibly have added of their own.
The anecdotes inserted from Herodotus(61) were probably still foreign
to these earliest annalists, and a direct borrowing of Greek materials
in this section cannot be proved. The more remarkable, therefore, is
the tendency, which is everywhere, even in the case of Cato the enemy
of the Greeks, very distinctly apparent, not only to connect Rome with
Hellas, but to represent the Italian and Greek nations as having been
originally identical. To this tendency we owe the primitive-Italians
or Aborigines who were immigrants from Greece, and the primitive-
Greeks or Pelasgians whose wanderings brought them to Italy.

The Earlier History

The current story led with some measure of connection, though the
connecting thread was but weak and loose through the regal period down
to the institution of the republic; but at that point legend dried up;
and it was not merely difficult but altogether impossible to form a
narrative, in any degree connected and readable, out of the lists of
magistrates and the scanty notices appended to them. The poets felt
this most. Naevius appears for that reason to have passed at once
from the regal period to the war regarding Sicily: Ennius, who in the
third of his eighteen books was still describing the regal period and
in the sixth had already reached the war with Pyrrhus, must have
treated the first two centuries of the republic merely in the most
general outline. How the annalists who wrote in Greek managed the
matter, we do not know. Cato adopted a peculiar course. He felt no
pleasure, as he himself says, "in relating what was set forth on the
tablet in the house of the Pontifex Maximus, how often wheat had been
dear, and when the sun or moon had been eclipsed;" and so he devoted
the second and third books of his historical work to accounts of the
origin of the other Italian communities and of their admission to the
Roman confederacy. He thus got rid of the fetters of chronicle, which
reports events year by year under the heading of the magistrates for
the time being; the statement in particular, that Cato's historical
work narrated events "sectionally," must refer to this feature of his
method. This attention bestowed on the other Italian communities,
which surprises us in a Roman work, had a bearing on the political
position of the author, who leaned throughout on the support of the
municipal Italy in his opposition to the doings of the capital; while
it furnished a sort of substitute for the missing history of Rome
from the expulsion of king Tarquinius down to the Pyrrhic war, by
presenting in its own way the main result of that history--the union
of Italy under the hegemony of Rome.

Contemporary History

Contemporary history, again, was treated in a connected and detailed
manner. Naevius described the first, and Fabius the second, war with
Carthage from their own knowledge; Ennius devoted at least thirteen
out of the eighteen books of his Annals to the epoch from Pyrrhus down
to the Istrian war;(62) Cato narrated in the fourth and fifth books
of his historical work the wars from the first Punic war down to that
with Perseus, and in the two last books, which probably were planned
on a different and ampler scale, he related the events of the last
twenty years of his life. For the Pyrrhic war Ennius may have
employed Timaeus or other Greek authorities; but on the whole
the accounts given were based, partly on personal observation
or communications of eye-witnesses, partly on each other.

Speeches And Letters

Contemporaneously with historical literature, and in some sense as an
appendage to it, arose the literature of speeches and letters. This
in like manner was commenced by Cato; for the Romans possessed nothing
of an earlier age except some funeral orations, most of which probably
were only brought to light at a later period from family archives,
such as that which the veteran Quintus Fabius, the opponent of
Hannibal, delivered when an old man over his son who had died in his
prime. Cato on the other hand committed to writing in his old age
such of the numerous orations which he had delivered during his long
and active public career as were historically important, as a sort of
political memoirs, and published them partly in his historical work,
partly, it would seem, as independent supplements to it. There also
existed a collection of his letters.

History Of Other Nations

With non-Roman history the Romans concerned themselves so far, that
a certain knowledge of it was deemed indispensable for the cultivated
Roman; even old Fabius is said to have been familiar not merely with
the Roman, but also with foreign, wars, and it is distinctly testified
that Cato diligently read Thucydides and the Greek historians in
general. But, if we leave out of view the collection of anecdotes and
maxims which Cato compiled for himself as the fruits of this reading,
no trace is discernible of any literary activity in this field.

Uncritical Treatment Of History

These first essays in historical literature were all of them, as
a matter of course, pervaded by an easy, uncritical spirit; neither
authors nor readers readily took offence at inward or outward
inconsistencies. King Tarquinius the Second, although he was already
grown up at the time of his father's death and did not begin to reign
till thirty-nine years afterwards, is nevertheless still a young man
when he ascends the throne. Pythagoras, who came to Italy about a
generation before the expulsion of the kings, is nevertheless set
down by the Roman historians as a friend of the wise Numa. The state-
envoys sent to Syracuse in the year 262 transact business with
Dionysius the elder, who ascended the throne eighty-six years
afterwards (348). This naive uncritical spirit is especially apparent
in the treatment of Roman chronology. Since according to the Roman
reckoning--the outlines of which were probably fixed in the previous
epoch--the foundation of Rome took place 240 years before the
consecration of the Capitoline temple(63) and 360 years before the
burning of the city by the Gauls,(64) and the latter event, which
is mentioned also in Greek historical works, fell according to these
in the year of the Athenian archon Pyrgion 388 B. C. Ol. 98, i, the
building of Rome accordingly fell on Ol. 8, i. This was, according
to the chronology of Eratosthenes which was already recognized as
canonical, the year 436 after the fall of Troy; nevertheless the
common story retained as the founder of Rome the grandson of the
Trojan Aeneas. Cato, who like a good financier checked the
calculation, no doubt drew attention in this instance to the
incongruity; but he does not appear to have proposed any mode of
getting over the difficulty--the list of the Alban kings, which
was afterwards inserted with this view, certainly did not proceed
from him.

The same uncritical spirit, which prevailed in the early history,
prevailed also to a certain extent in the representation of historical
times. The accounts certainly without exception bore that strong
party colouring, for which the Fabian narrative of the commencement
of the second war with Carthage is censured by Polybius with the
calm severity characteristic of him. Mistrust, however, is more
appropriate in such circumstances than reproach. It is somewhat
ridiculous to expect from the Roman contemporaries of Hannibal a
just judgment on their opponents; but no conscious misrepresentation
of the facts, except such as a simple-minded patriotism of itself
involves, has been proved against the fathers of Roman history.


The beginnings of scientific culture, and even of authorship relating
to it, also fall within this epoch. The instruction hitherto given
had been substantially confined to reading and writing and a knowledge
of the law of the land.(65) But a closer contact with the Greeks
gradually suggested to the Romans the idea of a more general culture;
and stimulated the endeavour, if not directly to transplant this
Greek culture to Rome, at any rate to modify the Roman culture to
some extent after its model.


First of all, the knowledge of the mother-tongue began to shape itself
into Latin grammar; Greek philology transferred its methods to the
kindred idiom of Italy. The active study of grammar began nearly at
the same time with Roman authorship. About 520 Spurius Carvilius, a
teacher of writing, appears to have regulated the Latin alphabet, and
to have given to the letter -g, which was not previously included in
it,(66) the place of the -z which could be dispensed with--the place
which it still holds in the modern Occidental alphabets. The Roman
school-masters must have been constantly working at the settlement
of orthography; the Latin Muses too never disowned their scholastic
Hippocrene, and at all times applied themselves to orthography side
by side with poetry. Ennius especially--resembling Klopstock in this
respect also--not only practised an etymological play on assonance
quite after the Alexandrian style,(67) but also introduced, in place
of the simple signs for the double consonants that had hitherto been
usual, the more accurate Greek double writing. Of Naevius and
Plautus, it is true, nothing of the kind is known; the popular
poets in Rome must have treated orthography and etymology with
the indifference which is usual with poets.

Rhetoric And Philosophy

The Romans of this epoch still remained strangers to rhetoric and
philosophy. The speech in their case lay too decidedly at the very
heart of public life to be accessible to the handling of the foreign
schoolmaster; the genuine orator Cato poured forth all the vials of
his indignant ridicule over the silly Isocratean fashion of ever
learning, and yet never being able, to speak. The Greek philosophy,
although it acquired a certain influence over the Romans through the
medium of didactic and especially of tragic poetry, was nevertheless
viewed with an apprehension compounded of boorish ignorance and of
instinctive misgiving. Cato bluntly called Socrates a talker and a
revolutionist, who was justly put to death as an offender against the
faith and the laws of his country; and the opinion, which even Romans
addicted to philosophy entertained regarding it, may well be expressed
in the words of Ennius:

-Philosophari est mihi necesse, at paucis, nam omnino haut placet.
Degustandum ex ea, non in eam ingurgitandum censeo.-

Nevertheless the poem on Morals and the instructions in Oratory, which
were found among the writings of Cato, may be regarded as the Roman
quintessence or, if the expression be preferred, the Roman -caput
mortuum- of Greek philosophy and rhetoric. The immediate sources
whence Cato drew were, in the case of the poem on Morals, presumably
the Pythagorean writings on morals (along with, as a matter of course,
due commendation of the simple ancestral habits), and, in the case of
the book on Oratory, the speeches in Thucydides and more especially
the orations of Demosthenes, all of which Cato zealously studied.
Of the spirit of these manuals we may form some idea from the golden
oratorical rule, oftener quoted than followed by posterity, "to think
of the matter and leave the words to follow from it."(68)


Similar manuals of a general elementary character were composed by
Cato on the Art of Healing, the Science of War, Agriculture, and
Jurisprudence--all of which studies were likewise more or less under
Greek influence. Physics and mathematics were not much studied in
Rome; but the applied sciences connected with them received a certain
measure of attention. This was most of all true of medicine. In 535
the first Greek physician, the Peloponnesian Archagathus, settled in
Rome and there acquired such repute by his surgical operations, that a
residence was assigned to him on the part of the state and he received
the freedom of the city; and thereafter his colleagues flocked in
crowds to Italy. Cato no doubt not only reviled the foreign medical
practitioners with a zeal worthy of a better cause, but attempted,
by means of his medical manual compiled from his own experience and
probably in part also from the medical literature of the Greeks, to
revive the good old fashion under which the father of the family was
at the same time the family physician. The physicians and the public
gave themselves, as was reasonable, but little concern about his
obstinate invectives: at any rate the profession, one of the most
lucrative which existed in Rome, continued a monopoly in the hands
of the foreigners, and for centuries there were none but Greek
physicians in Rome.


Hitherto the measurement of time had been treated in Rome with
barbarous indifference, but matters were now at least in some degree
improved. With the erection of the first sundial in the Roman Forum
in 491 the Greek hour (--ora--, -hora-) began to come into use at
Rome: it happened, however, that the Romans erected a sundial which
had been prepared for Catana situated four degrees farther to the
south, and were guided by this for a whole century. Towards the end
of this epoch we find several persons of quality taking an interest
in mathematical studies. Manius Acilius Glabrio (consul in 563)
attempted to check the confusion of the calendar by a law, which
allowed the pontifical college to insert or omit intercalary months at
discretion: if the measure failed in its object and in fact aggravated
the evil, the failure was probably owing more to the unscrupulousness
than to the want of intelligence of the Roman theologians. Marcus
Fulvius Nobilior (consul in 565), a man of Greek culture, endeavoured
at least to make the Roman calendar more generally known. Gaius
Sulpicius Gallus (consul in 588), who not only predicted the eclipse
of the moon in 586 but also calculated the distance of the moon
from the earth, and who appears to have come forward even as an
astronomical writer, was regarded on this account by his
contemporaries as a prodigy of diligence and acuteness.

Agriculture And The Art Of War

Agriculture and the art of war were, of course, primarily regulated
by the standard of traditional and personal experience, as is very
distinctly apparent in that one of the two treatises of Cato on
Agriculture which has reached our time. But the results of Graeco-
Latin, and even of Phoenician, culture were brought to bear on these
subordinate fields just as on the higher provinces of intellectual
activity, and for that reason the foreign literature relating to
them cannot but have attracted some measure of attention.


Jurisprudence, on the other hand, was only in a subordinate degree
affected by foreign elements. The activity of the jurists of this
period was still mainly devoted to the answering of parties consulting
them and to the instruction of younger listeners; but this oral
instruction contributed to form a traditional groundwork of rules,
and literary activity was not wholly wanting. A work of greater
importance for jurisprudence than the short sketch of Cato was the
treatise published by Sextus Aelius Paetus, surnamed the "subtle"
(-catus-), who was the first practical jurist of his time, and, in
consequence of his exertions for the public benefit in this respect,
rose to the consulship (556) and to the censorship (560). His
treatise --the "-Tripartita-" as it was called--was a work on the
Twelve Tables, which appended to each sentence of the text an
explanation--chiefly, doubtless, of the antiquated and unintelligible
expressions--and the corresponding formula of action. While this
process of glossing undeniably indicated the influence of Greek
grammatical studies, the portion treating of the formulae of action,
on the contrary, was based on the older collection of Appius(69)
and on the whole system of procedure developed by national usage
and precedent.

Cato's Encyclopaedia

The state of science generally at this epoch is very distinctly
exhibited in the collection of those manuals composed by Cato for his
son which, as a sort of encyclopaedia, were designed to set forth in
short maxims what a "fit man" (-vir bonus-) ought to be as orator,
physician, husbandman, warrior, and jurist. A distinction was not yet
drawn between the propaedeutic and the professional study of science;
but so much of science generally as seemed necessary or useful was
required of every true Roman. The work did not include Latin grammar,
which consequently cannot as yet have attained that formal development
which is implied in a properly scientific instruction in language; and
it excluded music and the whole cycle of the mathematical and physical
sciences. Throughout it was the directly practical element in science
which alone was to be handled, and that with as much brevity and
simplicity as possible. The Greek literature was doubtless made use
of, but only to furnish some serviceable maxims of experience culled
from the mass of chaff and rubbish: it was one of Cato's commonplaces,
that "Greek books must be looked into, but not thoroughly studied."
Thus arose those household manuals of necessary information, which,
while rejecting Greek subtlety and obscurity, banished also Greek
acuteness and depth, but through that very peculiarity moulded the
attitude of the Romans towards the Greek sciences for all ages.

Character And Historical Position Of Roman Literature

Thus poetry and literature made their entrance into Rome along with
the sovereignty of the world, or, to use the language of a poet of
the age of Cicero:

-Poenico bello secundo Musa pennato gradu
Intulit se bellicosam Romuli in gentem feram.-

In the districts using the Sabellian and Etruscan dialects also there
must have been at the same period no want of intellectual movement
Tragedies in the Etruscan language are mentioned, and vases with
Oscan inscriptions show that the makers of them were acquainted with
Greek comedy. The question accordingly presents itself, whether,
contemporarily with Naevius and Cato, a Hellenizing literature like
the Roman may not have been in course of formation on the Arnus and
Volturnus. But all information on the point is lost, and history
can in such circumstances only indicate the blank.

Hellenizing Literature

The Roman literature is the only one as to which we can still form an
opinion; and, however problematical its absolute worth may appear to
the aesthetic judge, for those who wish to apprehend the history of
Rome it remains of unique value as the mirror of the inner mental
life of Italy in that sixth century--full of the din of arms and
pregnant for the future--during which its distinctively Italian phase
closed, and the land began to enter into the broader career of ancient
civilization. In it too there prevailed that antagonism, which
everywhere during this epoch pervaded the life of the nation and
characterized the age of transition. No one of unprejudiced mind,
and who is not misled by the venerable rust of two thousand years,
can be deceived as to the defectiveness of the Hellenistico-Roman
literature. Roman literature by the side of that of Greece resembles
a German orangery by the side of a grove of Sicilian orange-trees;
both may give us pleasure, but it is impossible even to conceive them
as parallel. This holds true of the literature in the mother-tongue
of the Latins still more decidedly, if possible, than of the Roman
literature in a foreign tongue; to a very great extent the former was
not the work of Romans at all, but of foreigners, of half-Greeks,
Celts, and ere long even Africans, whose knowledge of Latin was only
acquired by study. Among those who in this age came before the public
as poets, none, as we have already said, can be shown to have been
persons of rank; and not only so, but none can be shown to have
been natives of Latium proper. The very name given to the poet was
foreign; even Ennius emphatically calls himself a -poeta-(70). But
not only was this poetry foreign; it was also liable to all those
defects which are found to occur where schoolmasters become authors
and the great multitude forms the public. We have shown how comedy
was artistically debased by a regard to the multitude, and in fact
sank into vulgar coarseness; we have further shown that two of the
most influential Roman authors were schoolmasters in the first
instance and only became poets in the sequel, and that, while the
Greek philology which only sprang up after the decline of the national
literature experimented merely on the dead body, in Latium grammar and
literature had their foundations laid simultaneously and went hand
in hand, almost as in the case of modern missions to the heathen. In
fact, if we view with an unprejudiced eye this Hellenistic literature
of the sixth century--that poetry followed out professionally and
destitute of all productiveness of its own, that uniform imitation
of the very shallowest forms of foreign art, that repertoire of
translations, that changeling of epos--we are tempted to reckon
it simply one of the diseased symptoms of the epoch before us.

But such a judgment, if not unjust, would yet be just only in a very
partial sense. We must first of all consider that this artificial
literature sprang up in a nation which not only did not possess any
national poetic art, but could never attain any such art. In
antiquity, which knew nothing of the modern poetry of individual life,
creative poetical activity fell mainly within the mysterious period
when a nation was experiencing the fears and pleasures of growth:
without prejudice to the greatness of the Greek epic and tragic poets
we may assert that their poetry mainly consisted in reproducing the
primitive stories of human gods and divine men. This basis of ancient
poetry was totally wanting in Latium: where the world of gods remained
shapeless and legend remained barren, the golden apples of poetry
could not voluntarily ripen. To this falls to be added a second
and more important consideration.

The inward mental development and the outward political evolution of
Italy had equally reached a point at which it was no longer possible
to retain the Roman nationality based on the exclusion of all higher
and individual mental culture, and to repel the encroachments of
Hellenism. The propagation of Hellenism in Italy had certainly a
revolutionary and a denationalizing tendency, but it was indispensable
for the necessary intellectual equalization of the nations; and this
primarily forms the historical and even the poetical justification of
the Romano-Hellenistic literature. Not a single new and genuine work
of art issued from its workshop, but it extended the intellectual
horizon of Hellas over Italy. Viewed even in its mere outward aspect,
Greek poetry presumes in the hearer a certain amount of positive
acquired knowledge. That self-contained completeness, which is one
of the most essential peculiarities of the dramas of Shakespeare for
instance, was foreign to ancient poetry; a person unacquainted with
the cycle of Greek legend would fail to discover the background and
often even the ordinary meaning of every rhapsody and every tragedy.
If the Roman public of this period was in some degree familiar, as the
comedies of Plautus show, with the Homeric poems and the legends of
Herakles, and was acquainted with at least the more generally current
of the other myths,(71) this knowledge must have found its way to the
public primarily through the stage alongside of the school, and thus
have formed at least a first step towards the understanding of the
Hellenic poetry. But still deeper was the effect--on which the most
ingenious literary critics of antiquity justly laid emphasis--produced
by the naturalization of the Greek poetic language and the Greek
metres in Latium. If "conquered Greece vanquished her rude conqueror
by art," the victory was primarily accomplished by elaborating from
the unpliant Latin idiom a cultivated and elevated poetical language,
so that instead of the monotonous and hackneyed Saturnian the senarius
flowed and the hexameter rushed, and the mighty tetrameters, the
jubilant anapaests, and the artfully intermingled lyrical rhythms
fell on the Latin ear in the mother-tongue. Poetical language is the
key to the ideal world of poetry, poetic measure the key to poetical
feeling; for the man, to whom the eloquent epithet is dumb and the
living image is dead, and in whom the times of dactyls and iambuses
awaken no inward echo, Homer and Sophocles have composed in vain.
Let it not be said that poetical and rhythmical feeling comes
spontaneously. The ideal feelings are no doubt implanted by nature
in the human breast, but they need favourable sunshine in order to
germinate; and especially in the Latin nation, which was but little
susceptible of poetic impulses, they needed external nurture. Nor let
it be said, that, by virtue of the widely diffused acquaintance with
the Greek language, its literature would have sufficed for the
susceptible Roman public. The mysterious charm which language
exercises over man, and which poetical language and rhythm only
enhance, attaches not to any tongue learned accidentally, but only
to the mother-tongue. From this point of view, we shall form a juster
judgment of the Hellenistic literature, and particularly of the
poetry, of the Romans of this period. If it tended to transplant
the radicalism of Euripides to Rome, to resolve the gods either into
deceased men or into mental conceptions, to place a denationalized
Latium by the side of a denationalized Hellas, and to reduce all
purely and distinctly developed national peculiarities to the
problematic notion of general civilization, every one is at liberty to
find this tendency pleasing or disagreeable, but none can doubt its
historical necessity. From this point of view the very defectiveness
of the Roman poetry, which cannot be denied, may be explained and
so may in some degree be justified. It is no doubt pervaded by a
disproportion between the trivial and often bungled contents and the
comparatively finished form; but the real significance of this poetry
lay precisely in its formal features, especially those of language and
metre. It was not seemly that poetry in Rome was principally in the
hands of schoolmasters and foreigners and was chiefly translation or
imitation; but, if the primary object of poetry was simply to form
a bridge from Latium to Hellas, Livius and Ennius had certainly a
vocation to the poetical pontificate in Rome, and a translated
literature was the simplest means to the end. It was still less
seemly that Roman poetry preferred to lay its hands on the most worn-
out and trivial originals; but in this view it was appropriate. No
one will desire to place the poetry of Euripides on a level with that
of Homer; but, historically viewed, Euripides and Menander were quite
as much the oracles of cosmopolitan Hellenism as the Iliad and
Odyssey were the oracles of national Hellenism, and in so far
the representatives of the new school had good reason for
introducing their audience especially to this cycle of literature.
The instinctive consciousness also of their limited poetical powers
may partly have induced the Roman composers to keep mainly by
Euripides and Menander and to leave Sophocles and even Aristophanes
untouched; for, while poetry is essentially national and difficult to
transplant, intellect and wit, on which the poetry of Euripides as
well as of Menander is based, are in their very nature cosmopolitan.
Moreover the fact always deserves to be honourably acknowledged, that
the Roman poets of the sixth century did not attach themselves to the
Hellenic literature of the day or what is called Alexandrinism, but
sought their models solely in the older classical literature, although
not exactly in its richest or purest fields. On the whole, however
innumerable may be the false accommodations and sins against the rules
of art which we can point out in them, these were just the offences
which were by stringent necessity attendant on the far from scrupulous
efforts of the missionaries of Hellenism; and they are, in a
historical and even aesthetic point of view, outweighed in some
measure by the zeal of faith equally inseparable from propagandism.
We may form a different opinion from Ennius as to the value of his new
gospel; but, if in the case of faith it does not matter so much what,
as how, men believe, we cannot refuse recognition and admiration to
the Roman poets of the sixth century. A fresh and strong sense of the
power of the Hellenic world-literature, a sacred longing to transplant
the marvellous tree to the foreign land, pervaded the whole poetry of
the sixth century, and coincided in a peculiar manner with the
thoroughly elevated spirit of that great age. The later refined
Hellenism looked down on the poetical performances of this period
with some degree of contempt; it should rather perhaps have looked
up to the poets, who with all their imperfection yet stood in a more
intimate relation to Greek poetry, and approached nearer to genuine
poetical art, than their more cultivated successors. In the bold
emulation, in the sounding rhythms, even in the mighty professional
pride of the poets of this age there is, more than in any other epoch
of Roman literature, an imposing grandeur; and even those who are
under no illusion as to the weak points of this poetry may apply to
it the proud language, already quoted, in which Ennius celebrates
its praise:

-Enni poeta, salve, qui mortalibus
Versus propinas flammeos medullitus.-

National Opposition

As the Hellenico-Roman literature of this period was essentially
marked by a dominant tendency, so was also its antithesis, the
contemporary national authorship. While the former aimed at neither
more nor less than the annihilation of Latin nationality by the
creation of a poetry Latin in language but Hellenic in form and
spirit, the best and purest part of the Latin nation was driven to
reject and place under the ban of outlawry the literature of Hellenism
along with Hellenism itself. The Romans in the time of Cato stood
opposed to Greek literature, very much as in the time of the Caesars
they stood opposed to Christianity; freedmen and foreigners formed the
main body of the poetical, as they afterwards formed the main body of
the Christian, community; the nobility of the nation and above all
the government saw in poetry as in Christianity an absolutely hostile
power; Plautus and Ennius were ranked with the rabble by the Roman
aristocracy for reasons nearly the same as those for which the
apostles and bishops were put to death by the Roman government.
In this field too it was Cato, of course, who took the lead as the
vigorous champion of his native country against the foreigners. The
Greek literati and physicians were in his view the most dangerous scum
of the radically corrupt Greek people,(72) and the Roman "ballad-
singers" are treated by him with ineffable contempt.(73) He and
those who shared his sentiments have been often and harshly censured
on this account, and certainly the expressions of his displeasure
are not unfrequently characterized by the bluntness and narrowness
peculiar to him; on a closer consideration, however, we must not only
confess him to have been in individual instances substantially right,
but we must also acknowledge that the national opposition in this
field, more than anywhere else, went beyond the manifestly inadequate
line of mere negative defence. When his younger contemporary, Aulus
Postumius Albinus, who was an object of ridicule to the Hellenes
themselves by his offensive Hellenizing, and who, for example, even
manufactured Greek verses--when this Albinus in the preface to his
historical treatise pleaded in excuse for his defective Greek that he
was by birth a Roman--was not the question quite in place, whether he
had been doomed by authority of law to meddle with matters which he
did not understand? Were the trades of the professional translator of
comedies and of the poet celebrating heroes for bread and protection
more honourable, perhaps, two thousand years ago than they are now?
Had Cato not reason to make it a reproach against Nobilior, that he
took Ennius--who, we may add, glorified in his verses the Roman
potentates without respect of persons, and overloaded Cato himself
with praise--along with him to Ambracia as the celebrator of his
future achievements? Had he not reason to revile the Greeks, with
whom he had become acquainted in Rome and Athens, as an incorrigibly
wretched pack? This opposition to the culture of the age and the
Hellenism of the day was well warranted; but Cato was by no means
chargeable with an opposition to culture and to Hellenism in general.
On the contrary it is the highest merit of the national party, that
they comprehended very clearly the necessity of creating a Latin
literature and of bringing the stimulating influences of Hellenism
to bear on it; only their intention was, that Latin literature should
not be a mere copy taken from the Greek and intruded on the national
feelings of Rome, but should, while fertilized by Greek influences,
be developed in accordance with Italian nationality. With a genial
instinct, which attests not so much the sagacity of individuals as
the elevation of the epoch, they perceived that in the case of Rome,
owing to the total want of earlier poetical productiveness, history
furnished the only subject-matter for the development of an
intellectual life of their own. Rome was, what Greece was not, a
state; and the mighty consciousness of this truth lay at the root both
of the bold attempt which Naevius made to attain by means of history a
Roman epos and a Roman drama, and of the creation of Latin prose by
Cato. It is true that the endeavour to replace the gods and heroes of
legend by the kings and consuls of Rome resembles the attempt of the
giants to storm heaven by means of mountains piled one above another:
without a world of gods there is no ancient epos and no ancient drama,
and poetry knows no substitutes. With greater moderation and good
sense Cato left poetry proper, as a thing irremediably lost, to the
party opposed to him; although his attempt to create a didactic poetry
in national measure after the model of the earlier Roman productions
--the Appian poem on Morals and the poem on Agriculture--remains
significant and deserving of respect, in point if not of success, at
least of intention. Prose afforded him a more favourable field, and
accordingly he applied the whole varied power and energy peculiar to
him to the creation of a prose literature in his native tongue. This
effort was all the more Roman and all the more deserving of respect,
that the public which he primarily addressed was the family circle,
and that in such an effort he stood almost alone in his time. Thus
arose his "Origines," his remarkable state-speeches, his treatises
on special branches of science. They are certainly pervaded by a
national spirit, and turn on national subjects; but they are far
from anti-Hellenic: in fact they originated essentially under Greek
influence, although in a different sense from that in which the
writings of the opposite party so originated. The idea and even the
title of his chief work were borrowed from the Greek "foundation-
histories" (--ktoeis--). The same is true of his oratorical
authorship; he ridiculed Isocrates, but he tried to learn from
Thucydides and Demosthenes. His encyclopaedia is essentially the
result of his study of Greek literature. Of all the undertakings
of that active and patriotic man none was more fruitful of results
and none more useful to his country than this literary activity,
little esteemed in comparison as it probably was by himself.
He found numerous and worthy successors in oratorical and scientific
authorship; and though his original historical treatise, which of its
kind may be compared with the Greek logography, was not followed by
any Herodotus or Thucydides, yet by and through him the principle
was established that literary occupation in connection with the
useful sciences as well as with history was not merely becoming
but honourable in a Roman.


Let us glance, in conclusion, at the state of the arts of
architecture, sculpture, and painting. So far as concerns the former,
the traces of incipient luxury were less observable in public than in
private buildings. It was not till towards the close of this period,
and especially from the time of the censorship of Cato (570), that
the Romans began in the case of the former to have respect to the
convenience as well as to the bare wants of the public; to line with
stone the basins (-lacus-) supplied from the aqueducts, (570); to
erect colonnades (575, 580); and above all to transfer to Rome the
Attic halls for courts and business--the -basilicae- as they were
called. The first of these buildings, somewhat corresponding to our
modern bazaars--the Porcian or silversmiths' hall--was erected by Cato
in 570 alongside of the senate-house; others were soon associated with
it, till gradually along the sides of the Forum the private shops were
replaced by these splendid columnar halls. Everyday life, however,
was more deeply influenced by the revolution in domestic architecture
which must, at latest, be placed in this period. The hall of the
house (-atrium-), court (-cavum aedium-), garden and garden colonnade
(-peristylium-), the record-chamber (-tablinum-), chapel, kitchen,
and bedrooms were by degrees severally provided for; and, as to the
internal fittings, the column began to be applied both in the court
and in the hall for the support of the open roof and also for the
garden colonnades: throughout these arrangements it is probable
that Greek models were copied or at any rate made use of. Yet the
materials used in building remained simple; "our ancestors," says
Varro, "dwelt in houses of brick, and laid merely a moderate
foundation of stone to keep away damp."

Plastic Art And Painting

Of Roman plastic art we scarcely encounter any other trace than,
perhaps, the embossing in wax of the images of ancestors. Painters
and painting are mentioned somewhat more frequently. Manius Valerius
caused the victory which he obtained over the Carthaginians and Hiero
in 491 off Messana(74) to be depicted on the side wall of the senate-
house--the first historical frescoes in Rome, which were followed by
many of similar character, and which were in the domain of the arts of
design what the national epos and the national drama became not much
later in the domain of poetry. We find named as painters, one
Theodotus who, as Naevius scoffingly said,

-Sedens in cella circumtectus tegetibus
Lares ludentis peni pinxit bubulo;-

Marcus Pacuvius of Brundisium, who painted in the temple of Hercules
in the Forum Boarium--the same who, when more advanced in life, made
himself a name as an editor of Greek tragedies; and Marcus Plautius
Lyco, a native of Asia Minor, whose beautiful paintings in the temple
of Juno at Ardea procured for him the freedom of that city.(75) But
these very facts clearly indicate, not only that the exercise of art
in Rome was altogether of subordinate importance and more of a manual
occupation than an art, but also that it fell, probably still more
exclusively than poetry, into the hands of Greeks and half Greeks.

On the other hand there appeared in genteel circles the first
traces of the tastes subsequently displayed by the dilettante and
the collector. They admired the magnificence of the Corinthian and
Athenian temples, and regarded with contempt the old-fashioned terra-
cotta figures on the roofs of those of Rome: even a man like Lucius
Paullus, who shared the feelings of Cato rather than of Scipio, viewed
and judged the Zeus of Phidias with the eye of a connoisseur. The
custom of carrying off the treasures of art from the conquered Greek
cities was first introduced on a large scale by Marcus Marcellus
after the capture of Syracuse (542). The practice met with severe
reprobation from men of the old school of training, and the stern
veteran Quintus Fabius Maximus, for instance, on the capture of
Tarentum (545) gave orders that the statues in the temples should not
be touched, but that the Tarentines should be allowed to retain their
indignant gods. Yet the plundering of temples in this way became of
more and more frequent occurrence. Titus Flamininus in particular
(560) and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior (567), two leading champions of
Roman Hellenism, as well as Lucius Paullus (587), were the means of
filling the public buildings of Rome with the masterpieces of the
Greek chisel. Here too the Romans had a dawning consciousness of the
truth that an interest in art as well as an interest in poetry formed
an essential part of Hellenic culture or, in other words, of modern
civilization; but, while the appropriation of Greek poetry was
impossible without some sort of poetical activity, in the case of art
the mere beholding and procuring of its productions seemed to suffice,
and therefore, while a native literature was formed in an artificial
way in Rome, no attempt even was made to develop a native art.

Notes For Chapter XIV

1. A distinct set of Greek expressions, such as -stratioticus-,
-machaera-, -nauclerus-, -trapezita-, -danista-, -drapeta-, -
oenopolium-, -bolus-, -malacus-, -morus-, -graphicus-, -logus-,
- apologus-, -techna-, -schema-, forms quite a special feature in
the language of Plautus. Translations are seldom attached, and that
only in the case of words not embraced in the circle of ideas to which
those which we have cited belong; for instance, in the -Truculentus-
--in a verse, however, that is perhaps a later addition (i. 1, 60)
--we find the explanation: --phronesis-- -est sapientia-. Fragments
of Greek also are common, as in the -Casina-, (iii. 6, 9):

--Pragmata moi parecheis-- -- -Dabo- --mega kakon--, -ut opinor-.

Greek puns likewise occur, as in the -Bacchides- (240):

-opus est chryso Chrysalo-.

Ennius in the same way takes for granted that the etymological meaning
of Alexandros and Andromache is known to the spectators (Varro, de L.
L. vii. 82). Most characteristic of all are the half-Greek
formations, such as -ferritribax-, -plagipatida-, -pugilice-,
or in the -Miles Gloriosus- (213):

-Fuge! euscheme hercle astitit sic dulice et comoedice!-

2. III. VIII. Greece Free

3. One of these epigrams composed in the name of Flamininus runs thus:

--Zenos io kraipnaisi gegathotes ipposunaisi
Kouroi, io Spartas Tundaridai basileis,
Aineadas Titos ummin upertatos opase doron
Ellenon teuxas paisin eleutherian.--

4. Such, e. g, was Chilo, the slave of Cato the Elder, who earned
money en bis master's behalf as a teacher of children (Plutarch,
Cato Mai. 20).

5. II. IX. Ballad-Singers

6. The later rule, by which the freedman necessarily bore the
-praenomen- of his patron, was not yet applied in republican Rome.

7. II. VII. Capture Of Tarentum

8. III. VI. Battle Of Sena

9. One of the tragedies of Livius presented the line--

-Quem ego nefrendem alui Iacteam immulgens opem.-

The verses of Homer (Odyssey, xii. 16):

--oud ara Kirken
ex Aideo elthontes elethomen, alla mal oka
elth entunamene ama d amphipoloi pheron aute
siton kai krea polla kai aithopa oinon eruthron.--

are thus interpreted:

-Topper citi ad aedis--venimus Circae
Simul duona coram(?)--portant ad navis,
Milia dlia in isdem--inserinuntur.-

The most remarkable feature is not so much the barbarism as the
thoughtlessness of the translator, who, instead of sending Circe to
Ulysses, sends Ulysses to Circe. Another still more ridiculous
mistake is the translation of --aidoioisin edoka-- (Odyss. xv. 373)
by -lusi- (Festus, Ep. v. affatim, p. ii, Muller). Such traits are
not in a historical point of view matters of difference; we recognize
in them the stage of intellectual culture which irked these earliest
Roman verse-making schoolmasters, and we at the same time perceive
that, although Andronicus was born in Tarentum, Greek cannot have
been properly his mother-tongue.

10. Such a building was, no doubt, constructed for the Apollinarian
games in the Flaminian circus in 575 (Liv. xl. 51; Becker, Top. p.
605); but it was probably soon afterwards pulled down again (Tertull.
de Spect. 10).

11. In 599 there were still no seats in the theatre (Ritschl, Parerg.
i. p. xviii. xx. 214; comp. Ribbeck, Trag. p. 285); but, as not only
the authors of the Plautine prologues, but Plautus himself on
various occasions, make allusions to a sitting audience (Mil. Glor.
82, 83; Aulul. iv. 9, 6; Triicul. ap. fin.; Epid. ap. fin.), most
of the spectators must have brought stools with them or have seated
themselves on the ground.

12. III. XI. Separation Of Orders In The Theatre

13. Women and children appear to have been at all times admitted to
the Roman theatre (Val. Max. vi. 3, 12; Plutarch., Quaest. Rom. 14;
Cicero, de Har. Resp. 12, 24; Vitruv. v. 3, i; Suetonius, Aug.
44,&c.); but slaves were -de jure- excluded (Cicero, de Har. Resp. 12,
26; Ritschl. Parerg. i. p. xix. 223), and the same must doubtless have
been the case with foreigners, excepting of course the guests of the
community, who took their places among or by the side of the senators
(Varro, v. 155; Justin, xliii. 5. 10; Sueton. Aug. 44).

14. III. XII. Moneyed Aristocracy

15. II. IX. Censure Of Art

16. It is not necessary to infer from the prologues of Plautus (Cas.
17; Amph. 65) that there was a distribution of prizes (Ritschl,
Parerg. i. 229); even the passage Trin. 706, may very well belong to
the Greek original, not to the translator; and the total silence of
the -didascaliae- and prologues, as well as of all tradition, on
the point of prize tribunals and prizes is decisive.

17. The scanty use made of what is called the middle Attic comedy does
not require notice in a historical point of view, since it was nothing
but the Menandrian comedy in a less developed form. There is no trace
of any employment of the older comedy. The Roman tragi-comedy--after
the type of the -Amphitruo- of Plautus--was no doubt styled by the
Roman literary historians -fabula Rhinthonica-; but the newer Attic
comedians also composed such parodies, and it is difficult to see why
the Ionians should have resorted for their translations to Rhinthon
and the older writers rather than to those who were nearer to their
own times.

18. III. VI In Italy

19. Bacch. 24; Trin. 609; True. iii. 2, 23. Naevius also, who in
fact was generally less scrupulous, ridicules the Praenestines and
Lanuvini (Com. 21, Ribb.). There are indications more than once of a
certain variance between the Praenestines and Romans (Liv. xxiii. 20,
xlii. i); and the executions in the time of Pyrrhus (ii. 18) as well
as the catastrophe in that of Sulla, were certainly connected with
this variance. --Innocent jokes, such as Capt. 160, 881, of course
passed uncensured. --The compliment paid to Massilia in Cas. v. 4., i,
deserves notice.

20. Thus the prologue of the -Cistellaria- concludes with the
following words, which may have a place here as the only contemporary
mention of the Hannibalic war in the literature that has come down
to us:--

-Haec res sic gesta est. Bene valete, et vincite
Virtute vera, quod fecistis antidhac;
Servate vostros socios, veteres et novos;
Augete auxilia vostris iustis legibus;
Perdite perduelles: parite laudem et lauream
Ut vobis victi Poeni poenas sufferant.-

The fourth line (-augete auxilia vostris iustis Iegibus-) has
reference to the supplementary payments imposed on the negligent
Latin colonies in 550 (Liv. xxix. 15; see ii. 350).

21. III. XIII. Increase Of Amusements

22. For this reason we can hardly be too cautious in assuming
allusions on the part of Plautus to the events of the times. Recent
investigation has set aside many instances of mistaken acuteness of
this sort; but might not even the reference to the Bacchanalia,
which is found in Cas. v. 4, 11 (Ritschl, Parerg. 1. 192), have been
expected to incur censure? We might even reverse the case and infer
from the notices of the festival of Bacchus in the -Casina-, and some
other pieces (Amph. 703; Aul. iii. i, 3; Bacch. 53, 371; Mil. Glor.
1016; and especially Men. 836), that these were written at a time
when it was not yet dangerous to speak of the Bacchanalia.

23. The remarkable passage in the -Tarentilla- can have no
other meaning:--

-Quae ego in theatro hic meis probavi plausibus,
Ea non audere quemquam regem rumpere:
Quanto libertatem hanc hic superat servitus!-

24. The ideas of the modern Hellas on the point of slavery are
illustrated by the passage in Euripides (Ion, 854; comp. Helena,

--En gar ti tois douloisin alochunen pherei,
Tounoma ta d' alla panta ton eleutheron
Oudeis kakion doulos, ostis esthlos e.--

25. For instance, in the otherwise very graceful examination which in
the -Stichus- of Plautus the father and his daughters institute into
the qualities of a good wife, the irrelevant question--whether it is
better to marry a virgin or a widow--is inserted, merely in order that
it may be answered by a no less irrelevant and, in the mouth of the
interlocutrix, altogether absurd commonplace against women. But that
is a trifle compared with the following specimen. In Menander's
-Plocium- a husband bewails his troubles to his friend:--

--Echo d' epikleron Lamian ouk eireka soi
Tout'; eit' ap' ouchi; kurian tes oikias
Kai ton agron kai panton ant' ekeines
Echoumen, Apollon, os chalepon chalepotaton
Apasi d' argalea 'stin, ouk emoi mono,
Tio polu mallon thugatri.--pragm' amachon legeis'
Eu oida--

In the Latin edition of Caecilius, this conversation, so elegant in
its simplicity, is converted into the following uncouth dialogue:--

-Sed tua morosane uxor quaeso est?--Ua! rogas?--
Qui tandem?--Taedet rientionis, quae mihi
Ubi domum adveni ac sedi, extemplo savium
Dat jejuna anima.--Nil peccat de savio:
Ut devomas volt, quod foris polaveris.-

26. Even when the Romans built stone theatres, these had not the
sounding-apparatus by which the Greek architects supported the efforts
of the actors (Vitruv. v. 5, 8).

27. III. XIII. Increase Of Amusements

28. The personal notices of Naevius are sadly confused. Seeing that
he fought in the first Punic war, he cannot have been born later than
495. Dramas, probably the first, were exhibited by him in 519 (Gell.
xii. 21. 45). That he had died as early as 550, as is usually
stated, was doubted by Varro (ap. Cic. Brut. 15, 60), and certainly
with reason; if it were true, he must have made his escape during the
Hannibalic war to the soil of the enemy. The sarcastic verses on
Scipio (p. 150) cannot have been written before the battle of
Zama. We may place his life between 490 and 560, so that he was a
contemporary of the two Scipios who fell in 543 (Cic. de Rep. iv. 10),
ten years younger than Andronicus, and perhaps ten years older than
Plautus. His Campanian origin is indicated by Gellius, and his Latin
nationality, if proof of it were needed, by himself in his epitaph.
The hypothesis that he was not a Roman citizen, but possibly a burgess
of Cales or of some other Latin town in Campania, renders the fact
that the Roman police treated him so unscrupulously the more easy
of explanation. At any rate he was not an actor, for he served in
the army.

29. Compare, e. g., with the verse of Livius the fragment from
Naevius' tragedy of -Lycurgus- :--

-Vos, qui regalis cordons custodias
Agitatis, ite actutum in frundiferos locos,
Ingenio arbusta ubi nata sunt, non obsita-;

Or the famous words, which in the -Hector Profisciscens- Hector
addresses to Priam:

-Laetus sum laudari me abs te, pater, a laudato viro;-

and the charming verse from the -Tarentilla-; --

-Alii adnutat, alii adnictat; alium amat, alium tenet.-

30. III. XIV. Political Neutrality

31. III. XIV. Political Neutrality

32. This hypothesis appears necessary, because otherwise the ancients
could not have hesitated in the way they did as to the genuineness or
spuriousness of the pieces of Plautus: in the case of no author,
properly so called, of Roman antiquity, do we find anything like a
similar uncertainty as to his literary property. In this respect,
as in so many other external points, there exists the most remarkable
analogy between Plautus and Shakespeare.

33. III. III. The Celts Conquered by Rome, III. VII. Measures Adopted
To Check The Immigration Of The Trans-Alpine Gauls

34. III. XIV. Roman Barbarism

35 -Togatus- denotes, in juristic and generally in technical language,
the Italian in contradistinction not merely to the foreigner, but also
to the Roman burgess. Thus especially -formula togatorum- (Corp.
Inscr. Lat., I. n. 200, v. 21, 50) is the list of those Italians bound
to render military serviee, who do not serve in the legions. The
designation also of Cisalpine Gaul as -Gallia togata-, which first
occurs in Hirtius and not long after disappears again from the
ordinary -usus loquendi-, describes this region presumably according
to its legal position, in so far as in the epoch from 665 to 705 the
great majority of its communities possessed Latin rights. Virgil
appears likewise in the -gens togata-, which he mentions along with
the Romans (Aen. i. 282), to have thought of the Latin nation.

According to this view we shall have to recognize in the -fabula
togata-the comedy which laid its plot in Latium, as the -fabula
palliata- had its plot in Greece; the transference of the scene of
action to a foreign land is common to both, and the comic writer is
wholly forbidden to bring on the stage the city or the burgesses of
Rome. That in reality the -togata- could only have its plot laid in
the towns of Latin rights, is shown by the fact that all the towns
in which, to our knowledge, pieces of Titinius and Afranius had their
scene--Setia, Ferentinum, Velitrae, Brundisium,--demonstrably had
Latin or, at any rate, allied rights down to the Social war. By the
extension of the franchise to all Italy the writers of comedy lost
this Latin localisation for their pieces, for Cisalpine Gaul, which
-de jure- took the place of the Latin communities, lay too far off
for the dramatists of the capital, and so the -fabula togata- seems in
fact to have disappeared. But the -de jure- suppressed communities of
Italy, such as Capua and Atella, stepped into this gap (ii. 366, iii.
148), and so far the -fabula Atellana- was in some measure the
continuation of the -togata-.

36. Respecting Titinius there is an utter want of literary
information; except that, to judge from a fragment of Varro, he seems
to have been older than Terence (558-595, Ritschl, Parerg. i. 194) for
more indeed, cannot he inferred from that passage, and though, of the
two groups there compared the second (Trabea, Atilius, Caecilius) is
on the whole older than the first (Titinius, Terentius, Atta), it does
not exactly follow that the oldest of the junior group is to be deemed
younger than the youngest of the elder.

37. II. VII. First Steps Toward The Latinizing Of Italy

38. Of the fifteen comedies of Titinius, with which we are acquainted,
six are named after male characters (-baratus-? -coecus-, -fullones-,
-Hortensius-, -Quintus-, -varus-), and nine after female (-Gemina-,
-iurisperita-, -prilia-? -privigna-, -psaltria- or -Ferentinatis-,
-Setina-, -tibicina-, -Veliterna-, -Ulubrana?), two of which, the
-iurisperita- and the -tibicina-, are evidently parodies of men's
occupations. The feminine world preponderates also in the fragments.

39. III. XIV. Livius Andronicus

40. III. XIV. Audience

41. We subjoin, for comparison, the opening lines of the -Medea- in
the original of Euripides and in the version of Ennius:--

--Eith' ophel' 'Apgous me diaptasthai skaphos
Kolchon es aian kuaneas sumplegadas
Med' en napaisi Pelion pesein pote
Tmetheisa peuke, med' epetmosai cheras
Andron arioton, oi to pagchruson deros
Pelia metelthon ou gar an despoin
Medeia purgous ges epleus Iolkias
'Eroti thumon ekplageis' 'Iasonos.--

-Utinam ne in nemore Pelio securibus
Caesa accidisset abiegna ad terram trabes,
Neve inde navis inchoandae exordium
Coepisset, quae nunc nominatur nomine
Argo, quia Argivi in ea dilecti viri
Vecti petebant pellem inauratam arietis
Colchis, imperio regis Peliae, per dolum.
Nam nunquam era errans mea domo efferret pedem
Medea, animo aegra, amort saevo saucia.-

The variations of the translation from the original are instructive
--not only its tautologies and periphrases, but also the omission
or explanation of the less familiar mythological names, e. g. the
Symplegades, the Iolcian land, the Argo. But the instances in which
Ennius has really misunderstood the original are rare.

42. III. XI. Roman Franchise More Difficult Of Acquisition

43. Beyond doubt the ancients were right in recognizing a sketch of
the poet's own character in the passage in the seventh book of the
Annals, where the consul calls to his side the confidant,

-quocum bene saepe libenter
Mensam sermonesque suos rerumque suarum
Congeriem partit, magnam cum lassus diei
Partem fuisset de summis rebus regundis
Consilio indu foro lato sanctoque senatu:
Cui res audacter magnas parvasque iocumque
Eloqueretur, cuncta simul malaque et bona dictu
Evomeret, si qui vellet, tutoque locaret.
Quocum multa volup ac gaudia clamque palamque,
Ingenium cui nulla malum sententia suadet
Ut faceret facinus lenis aut malus, doctus fidelis
Suavis homo facundus suo contentus beatus
Scitus secunda loquens in tempore commodus verbum
Paucum, multa tenens antiqua sepulta, vetustas
Quem fecit mores veteresque novosque tenentem,
Multorum veterum leges divumque hominumque,
Prudenter qui dicta loquive tacereve possit.-

In the line before the last we should probably read -multarum leges
divumque hominumque.-

44. Euripides (Iph. in Aul. 956) defines the soothsayer as a man,

--Os olig' alethe, polla de pseuon legei
Tuchon, otan de me, tuche oioichetai--

This is turned by the Latin translator into the following diatribe
against the casters of horoscopes:--

-Astrologorum signa in caelo quaesit, observat,
Cum capra aut nepa aut exoritur lumen aliquod beluae.
Quod est ante pedes, nemo spectat: caeli scrutantur plagas.-

45. III. XII. Irreligious Spirit

46. In the -Telephus- we find him saying--

-Palam mutire plebeio piaculum est.-

47. III. XIII. Luxury

48. The following verses, excellent in matter and form, belong to the
adaptation of the -Phoenix- of Euripides:--

-Sed virum virtute vera vivere animatum addecet,
Fortiterque innoxium vocare adversum adversarios.
Ea libertas est, qui pectus purum et firmum gestitat:
Aliae res obnoxiosae nocte in obscura latent.-

In the -Scipio-, which was probably incorporated in the collection of
miscellaneous poems, the graphic lines occurred:--

-- -- -mundus caeli vastus constitit silentio,
Et Neptunus saevus undis asperis pausam dedit.
Sol equis iter repressit ungulis volantibus;
Constitere amnes perennes, arbores vento vacant.-

This last passage affords us a glimpse of the way in which the poet
worked up his original poems. It is simply an expansion of the words
which occur in the tragedy -Hectoris Lustra- (the original of which
was probably by Sophocles) as spoken by a spectator of the combat
between Hephaestus and the Scamander:--

-Constitit credo Scamander, arbores vento vacant,-

and the incident is derived from the Iliad (xxi. 381).

49. Thus in the Phoenix we find the line:--

-- -- -stultust, qui cupita cupiens cupienter cupit,-

and this is not the most absurd specimen of such recurring assonances.
He also indulged in acrostic verses (Cic. de Div. ii. 54, iii).

50. III. III. The Celts Conquered By Rome

51. III. IX. Conflicts And Peace With The Aetolians

52. Besides Cato, we find the names of two "consulars and poets"
belonging to this period (Sueton. Vita Terent. 4)--Quintus Labeo,
consul in 571, and Marcus Popillius, consul in 581. But it remains
uncertain whether they published their poems. Even in the case of
Cato this may be doubted.

53. II. IX. Roman Historical Composition

54. III. XII. Irreligious Spirit

55. III. XII. Irreligious Spirit

56. The following fragments will give some idea of its tone. Of Dido
he says:

-Blande et docte percontat--Aeneas quo pacto
Troiam urbem liquerit.-

Again of Amulius:

-Manusque susum ad caelum--sustulit suas rex
Amulius; gratulatur--divis-.

Part of a speech where the indirect construction is remarkable:

-Sin illos deserant for--tissumos virorum
Magnum stuprum populo--fieri per gentis-.

With reference to the landing at Malta in 498:

-Transit Melitam Romanus--insuiam integram
Urit populatur vastat--rem hostium concinnat.-

Lastly, as to the peace which terminated the war concerning Sicily:

-Id quoque paciscunt moenia--sint Lutatium quae
Reconcilient; captivos--plurimos idem
Sicilienses paciscit--obsides ut reddant.-

57. That this oldest prose work on the history of Rome was composed in
Greek, is established beyond a doubt by Dionys. i. 6, and Cicero, de
Div. i. 21, 43. The Latin Annals quoted under the same name by
Quintilian and later grammarians remain involved in mystery, and the
difficulty is increased by the circumstance, that there is also quoted
under the same name a very detailed exposition of the pontifical law
in the Latin language. But the latter treatise will not be attributed
by any one, who has traced the development of Roman literature in its
connection, to an author of the age of the Hannibalic war; and even
Latin annals from that age appear problematical, although it must
remain a moot question whether there has been a confusion of the
earlier with a later annalist, Quintus Fabius Maximus Servilianus
(consul in 612), or whether there existed an old Latin edition of the
Greek Annals of Fabius as well as of those of Acilius and Albinus, or
whether there were two annalists of the name of Fabius Pictor.

The historical work likewise written in Greek, ascribed to Lucius
Cincius Alimentus a contemporary of Fabius, seems spurious and a
compilation of the Augustan age.

58. Cato's whole literary activity belonged to the period of his old
age (Cicero, Cat. ii, 38; Nepos, Cato, 3); the composition even of the
earlier books of the "Origines" falls not before, and yet probably not
long subsequent to, 586 (Plin. H. N. iii. 14, 114).

59. It is evidently by way of contrast with Fabius that Polybius
(xl. 6, 4) calls attention to the fact, that Albinus, madly fond of
everything Greek, had given himself the trouble of writing history
systematically [--pragmatiken iotorian--].

60. II. IX. Roman Early History Of Rome

61. III. XIV. Knowledge Of Languages

62. For instance the history of the siege of Gabii is compiled from
the anecdotes in Herodotus as to Zopyrus and the tyrant Thrasybulus,
and one version of the story of the exposure of Romulus is framed
on the model of the history of the youth of Cyrus as Herodotus
relates it.

63. III. VII. Measures Adopted To Check The Immigration Of The
Transalpine Gauls

64. II. IX. Roman Early History Of Rome

65. II. IX. Registers Of Magistrates

66. Plautus (Mostell. 126) says of parents, that they teach their
children -litteras-, -iura-, -leges-; and Plutarch (Cato Mai. 20)
testifies to the same effect.

67. II. IX. Philology

68. Thus in his Epicharmian poems Jupiter is so called, -quod iuvat-;
and Ceres, -quod gerit fruges.-

69. -Rem tene, verba sequentur.-

70. II. IX. Language

71. See the lines already quoted at III. II. The War On The Coasts Of
Sicily And Sardinia.

The formation of the name -poeta- from the vulgar Greek --poetes--
instead of --poietes-- --as --epoesen-- was in use among the Attic
potters--is characteristic. We may add that -poeta- technically
denotes only the author of epic or recitative poems, not the composer
for the stage, who at this time was styled -scriba- (III. XIV. Audience;
Festus, s. v., p. 333 M.).

72. Even subordinate figures from the legends of Troy and of Herakles
niake their appearance, e. g. Talthybius (Stich. 305), Autolycus
(Bacch. 275), Parthaon (Men. 745). Moreover the most general outlines
must have been known in the case of the Theban and the Argonautic
legends, and of the stories of Bellerophon (Bacch. 810), Pentheus
(Merc. 467), Procne and Philomela (Rud. 604). Sappho and Phaon (Mil.

73. "As to these Greeks," he says to his son Marcus, "I shall tell at
the proper place, what I came to learn regarding them at Athens; and
shall show that it is useful to look into their writings, but not to
study them thoroughly. They are an utterly corrupt and ungovernable
race--believe me, this is true as an oracle; if that people bring
hither its culture, it will ruin everything, and most especially if
it send hither its physicians. They have conspired to despatch all
barbarians by their physicking, but they get themselves paid for it,
that people may trust them and that they may the more easily bring us
to ruin. They call us also barbarians, and indeed revile us by the
still more vulgar name of Opicans. I interdict thee, therefore, from
all dealings with the practitioners of the healing art."

Cato in his zeal was not aware that the name of Opicans, which had in
Latin an obnoxious meaning, was in Greek quite unobjectionable, and
that the Greeks had in the most innocent way come to designate the
Italians by that term (I. X. Time Of The Greek Immigration).

74. II. IX. Censure Of Art

75. III. II. War Between The Romans And Carthaginians and Syracusans

76. Plautius belongs to this or to the beginning of the following
period, for the inscription on his pictures (Plin. H. N. xxxv. 10,
115), being hexametrical, cannot well be older than Ennius, and the
bestowal of the citizenship of Ardea must have taken place before the
Social War, through which Ardea lost its independence.


A.U.C.* B.C. B.C. A.U.C.
000 753 753 000
025 728 750 003
050 703 725 028
075 678 700 053
100 653 675 078
125 628 650 103

Book of the day: