Literature and Art

Literary Reaction

The sixth century was, both in a political and a literary point of view, a vigorous and great age. It is true that we do not find in the field of authorship any more than in that of politics a man of the first rank; Naevius, Ennius, Plautus, Cato, gifted and lively authors of distinctly-marked individuality, were not in the highest sense men of creative talent; nevertheless we perceive in the soaring, stirring, bold strain of their dramatic, epic, and historic attempts, that these rest on the gigantic struggles of the Punic wars. Much is only artificially transplanted, there are various faults in delineation and colouring, the form of art and the language are deficient in purity of treatment, Greek and national elements are quaintly conjoined; the whole performance betrays the stamp of its scholastic origin and lacks independence and completeness; yet there exists in the poets and authors of that age, if not the full power to reach their high aim, at any rate the courage to compete with and the hope of rivalling the Greeks. It is otherwise in the epoch before us. The morning mists fell; what had been begun in the fresh feeling of the national strength hardened amidst war, with youthful want of insight into the difficulty of the undertaking and into the measure of their own talent, but also with youthful delight in and love to the work, could not be carried farther now, when on the one hand the dull sultriness of the approaching revolutionary storm began to fill the air, and on the other hand the eyes of the more intelligent were gradually opened to the incomparable glory of Greek poetry and art and to the very modest artistic endowments of their own nation. The literature of the sixth century had arisen from the influence of Greek art on half-cultivated, but excited and susceptible minds. The increased Hellenic culture of the seventh called forth a literary reaction, which destroyed the germs of promise contained in those simple imitative attempts by the winter-frost of reflection, and rooted up the wheat and the tares of the older type of literature together.

Scipionic Circle

This reaction proceeded primarily and chiefly from the circle which assembled around Scipio Aemilianus, and whose most prominent members among the Roman world of quality were, in addition to Scipio himself, his elder friend and counsellor Gaius Laelius (consul in 614) and Scipio's younger companions, Lucius Furius Philus (consul in 618) and Spurius Mummius, the brother of the destroyer of Corinth, among the Roman and Greek literati the comedian Terence, the satirist Lucilius, the historian Polybius, and the philosopher Panaetius. Those who were familiar with the Iliad, with Xenophon, and with Menander, could not be greatly impressed by the Roman Homer, and still less by the bad translations of the tragedies of Euripides which Ennius had furnished and Pacuvius continued to furnish. While patriotic considerations might set bounds to criticism in reference to the native chronicles, Lucilius at any rate directed very pointed shafts against "the dismal figures from the complicated expositions of Pacuvius"; and similar severe, but not unjust criticisms of Ennius, Plautus, Pacuvius—all those poets "who appeared to have a licence to talk pompously and to reason illogically"—are found in the polished author of the Rhetoric dedicated to Herennius, written at the close of this period. People shrugged their shoulders at the interpolations, with which the homely popular wit of Rome had garnished the elegant comedies of Philemon and Diphilus. Half smiling, half envious, they turned away from the inadequate attempts of a dull age, which that circle probably regarded somewhat as a mature man regards the poetical effusions of his youth; despairing of the transplantation of the marvellous tree, they allowed the higher species of art in poetry and prose substantially to fall into abeyance, and restricted themselves in these departments to an intelligent enjoyment of foreign masterpieces. The productiveness of this epoch displayed itself chiefly in the subordinate fields of the lighter comedy, the poetical miscellany, the political pamphlet, and the professional sciences. The literary cue was correctness, in the style of art and especially in the language, which, as a more limited circle of persons of culture became separated from the body of the people, was in its turn divided into the classical Latin of higher society and the vulgar Latin of the common people. The prologues of Terence promise "pure Latin"; warfare against faults of language forms a chief element of the Lucilian satire; and with this circumstance is connected the fact, that composition in Greek among the Romans now falls decidedly into the shade. In so far certainly there is an improvement; inadequate efforts occur in this epoch far less frequently; performances in their kind complete and thoroughly pleasing occur far oftener than before or afterwards; in a linguistic point of view Cicero calls the age of Laelius and Scipio the golden age of pure unadulterated Latin. In like manner literary activity gradually rises in public opinion from a trade to an art. At the beginning of this period the preparation of theatrical pieces at any rate, if not the publication of recitative poems, was still regarded as not becoming for the Roman of quality; Pacuvius and Terence lived by their pieces; the writing of dramas was entirely a trade, and not one of golden produce. About the time of Sulla the state of matters had entirely changed. The remuneration given to actors at this time proves that even the favourite dramatic poet might then lay claim to a payment, the high amount of which removed the stigma. By this means composing for the stage was raised into a liberal art; and we accordingly find men of the highest aristocratic circles, such as Lucius Caesar (aedile in 664, 667), engaged in writing for the Roman stage and proud of sitting in the Roman "poet's club" by the side of the ancestorless Accius. Art gains in sympathy and honour; but the enthusiasm has departed in life and in literature. The fearless self-confidence, which makes the poet a poet, and which is very decidedly apparent in Plautus especially, is found in none of those that follow; the Epigoni of the men that fought with Hannibal are correct, but feeble.


Let us first glance at the Roman dramatic literature and the stage itself. Tragedy has now for the first time her specialists; the tragic poets of this epoch do not, like those of the preceding, cultivate comedy and epos side by side. The appreciation of this branch of art among the writing and reading circles was evidently on the increase, but tragic poetry itself hardly improved. We now meet with the national tragedy (-praetexta-), the creation of Naevius, only in the hands of Pacuvius to be mentioned immediately— an after-growth of the Ennian epoch. Among the probably numerous poets who imitated Greek tragedies two alone acquired a considerable name. Marcus Pacuvius from Brundisium (535-c. 625) who in his earlier years earned his livelihood in Rome by painting and only composed tragedies when advanced in life, belongs as respects both his years and his style to the sixth rather than the seventh century, although his poetical activity falls within the latter. He composed on the whole after the manner of his countryman, uncle, and master Ennius. Polishing more carefully and aspiring to a higher strain than his predecessor, he was regarded by favourable critics of art afterwards as a model of artistic poetry and of rich style: in the fragments, however, that have reached us proofs are not wanting to justify the censure of the poet's language by Cicero and the censure of his taste by Lucilius; his language appears more rugged than that of his predecessor, his style of composition pompous and punctilious.(1) There are traces that he like Ennius attached more value to philosophy than to religion; but he did not at any rate, like the latter, prefer dramas chiming in with neological views and preaching sensuous passion or modern enlightenment, and drew without distinction from Sophocles or from Euripides—of that poetry with a decided special aim, which almost stamps Ennius with genius, there can have been no vein in the younger poet.


More readable and adroit imitations of Greek tragedy were furnished by Pacuvius' younger contemporary, Lucius Accius, son of a freedman of Pisaurum (584-after 651), with the exception of Pacuvius the only notable tragic poet of the seventh century. An active author also in the field of literary history and grammar, he doubtless laboured to introduce instead of the crude manner of his predecessors greater purity of language and style into Latin tragedy; yet even his inequality and incorrectness were emphatically censured by men of strict observance like Lucilius.

Greek Comedy

Far greater activity and far more important results are apparent in the field of comedy. At the very commencement of this period a remarkable reaction set in against the sort of comedy hitherto prevalent and popular. Its representative Terentius (558-595) is one of the most interesting phenomena, in a historical point of view, in Roman literature. Born in Phoenician Africa, brought in early youth as a slave to Rome and there introduced to the Greek culture of the day, he seemed from the very first destined for the vocation of giving back to the new Attic comedy that cosmopolitan character, which in its adaptation to the Roman public under the rough hands of Naevius, Plautus, and their associates it had in some measure lost. Even in the selection and employment of models the contrast is apparent between him and that predecessor whom alone we can now compare with him. Plautus chooses his pieces from the whole range of the newer Attic comedy, and by no means disdains the livelier and more popular comedians, such as Philemon; Terence keeps almost exclusively to Menander, the most elegant, polished, and chaste of all the poets of the newer comedy. The method of working up several Greek pieces into one Latin is retained by Terence, because in fact from the state of the case it could not be avoided by the Roman editors; but it is handled with incomparably more skill and carefulness. The Plautine dialogue beyond doubt departed very frequently from its models; Terence boasts of the verbal adherence of his imitations to the originals, by which however we are not to understand a verbal translation in our sense. The not unfrequently coarse, but always effective laying on of Roman local tints over the Greek ground-work, which Plautus was fond of, is completely and designedly banished from Terence; not an allusion puts one in mind of Rome, not a proverb, hardly a reminiscence;(2) even the Latin titles are replaced by Greek. The same distinction shows itself in the artistic treatment. First of all the players receive back their appropriate masks, and greater care is observed as to the scenic arrangements, so that it is no longer the case, as with Plautus, that everything needs to take place on the street, whether belonging to it or not. Plautus ties and unties the dramatic knot carelessly and loosely, but his plot is droll and often striking; Terence, far less effective, keeps everywhere account of probability, not unfrequently at the cost of suspense, and wages emphatic war against the certainly somewhat flat and insipid standing expedients of his predecessors, e. g. against allegoric dreams.(3) Plautus paints his characters with broad strokes, often after a stock-model, always with a view to the gross effect from a distance and on the whole; Terence handles the psychological development with a careful and often excellent miniature-painting, as in the -Adelphi- for instance, where the two old men—the easy bachelor enjoying life in town, and the sadly harassed not at all refined country-landlord—form a masterly contrast. The springs of action and the language of Plautus are drawn from the tavern, those of Terence from the household of the good citizen. The lazy Plautine hostelry, the very unconstrained but very charming damsels with the hosts duly corresponding, the sabre-rattling troopers, the menial world painted with an altogether peculiar humour, whose heaven is the cellar, and whose fate is the lash, have disappeared in Terence or at any rate undergone improvement. In Plautus we find ourselves, on the whole, among incipient or thorough rogues, in Terence again, as a rule, among none but honest men; if occasionally a -leno- is plundered or a young man taken to the brothel, it is done with a moral intent, possibly out of brotherly love or to deter the boy from frequenting improper haunts. The Plautine pieces are pervaded by the significant antagonism of the tavern to the house; everywhere wives are visited with abuse, to the delight of all husbands temporarily emancipated and not quite sure of an amiable salutation at home. The comedies of Terence are pervaded by a conception not more moral, but doubtless more becoming, of the feminine nature and of married life. As a rule, they end with a virtuous marriage, or, if possible, with two—just as it was the glory of Menander that he compensated for every seduction by a marriage. The eulogies of a bachelor life, which are so frequent in Menander, are repeated by his Roman remodeller only with characteristic shyness,(4) whereas the lover in his agony, the tender husband at the -accouchement-, the loving sister by the death-bed in the -Eunuchus- and the -Andria- are very gracefully delineated; in the -Hecyra- there even appears at the close as a delivering angel a virtuous courtesan, likewise a genuine Menandrian figure, which the Roman public, it is true, very properly hissed. In Plautus the fathers throughout only exist for the purpose of being jeered and swindled by their sons; with Terence in the -Heauton Timorumenos- the lost son is reformed by his father's wisdom, and, as in general he is full of excellent instructions as to education, so the point of the best of his pieces, the -Adelphi-, turns on finding the right mean between the too liberal training of the uncle and the too rigid training of the father. Plautus writes for the great multitude and gives utterance to profane and sarcastic speeches, so far as the censorship of the stage at all allowed; Terence on the contrary describes it as his aim to please the good and, like Menander, to offend nobody. Plautus is fond of vigorous, often noisy dialogue, and his pieces require a lively play of gesture in the actors; Terence confines himself to "quiet conversation." The language of Plautus abounds in burlesque turns and verbal witticisms, in alliterations, in comic coinages of new terms, Aristophanic combinations of words, pithy expressions of the day jestingly borrowed from the Greek. Terence knows nothing of such caprices; his dialogue moves on with the purest symmetry, and its points are elegant epigrammatic and sententious turns. The comedy of Terence is not to be called an improvement, as compared with that of Plautus, either in a poetical or in a moral point of view. Originality cannot be affirmed of either, but, if possible, there is less of it in Terence; and the dubious praise of more correct copying is at least outweighed by the circumstance that, while the younger poet reproduced the agreeableness, he knew not how to reproduce the merriment of Menander, so that the comedies of Plautus imitated from Menander, such as the -Stichus-, the -Cistellaria-, the -Bacchides-, probably preserve far more of the flowing charm of the original than the comedies of the "-dimidiatus Menander-." And, while the aesthetic critic cannot recognize an improvement in the transition from the coarse to the dull, as little can the moralist in the transition from the obscenity and indifference of Plautus to the accommodating morality of Terence. But in point of language an improvement certainly took place. Elegance of language was the pride of the poet, and it was owing above all to its inimitable charm that the most refined judges of art in aftertimes, such as Cicero, Caesar, and Quinctilian, assigned the palm to him among all the Roman poets of the republican age. In so far it is perhaps justifiable to date a new era in Roman literature—the real essence of which lay not in the development of Latin poetry, but in the development of the Latin language—from the comedies of Terence as the first artistically pure imitation of Hellenic works of art. The modern comedy made its way amidst the most determined literary warfare. The Plautine style of composing had taken root among the Roman bourgeoisie; the comedies of Terence encountered the liveliest opposition from the public, which found their "insipid language," their "feeble style," intolerable. The, apparently, pretty sensitive poet replied in his prologues—which properly were not intended for any such purpose—with counter-criticisms full of defensive and offensive polemics; and appealed from the multitude, which had twice run off from his -Hecyra- to witness a band of gladiators and rope-dancers, to the cultivated circles of the genteel world. He declared that he only aspired to the approval of the "good"; in which doubtless there was not wanting a hint, that it was not at all seemly to undervalue works of art which had obtained the approval of the "few." He acquiesced in or even favoured the report, that persons of quality aided him in composing with their counsel or even with their cooperation.(5) In reality he carried his point; even in literature the oligarchy prevailed, and the artistic comedy of the exclusives supplanted the comedy of the people: we find that about 620 the pieces of Plautus disappeared from the set of stock plays. This is the more significant, because after the early death of Terence no man of conspicuous talent at all further occupied this field. Respecting the comedies of Turpilius (651 at an advanced age) and other stop- gaps wholly or almost wholly forgotten, a connoisseur already at the close of this period gave it as his opinion, that the new comedies were even much worse than the bad new pennies.(6)

National Comedy

We have formerly shown(7) that in all probability already in the course of the sixth century a national Roman comedy (-togata-) was added to the Graeco-Roman (-palliata-), as a portraiture not of the distinctive life of the capital, but of the ways and doings of the Latin land. Of course the Terentian school rapidly took possession of this species of comedy also; it was quite in accordance with its spirit to naturalise Greek comedy in Italy on the one hand by faithful translation, and on the other hand by pure Roman imitation. The chief representative of this school was Lucius Afranius (who flourished about 66). The fragments of his comedies remaining give no distinct impression, but they are not inconsistent with what the Roman critics of art remark regarding him. His numerous national comedies were in their construction thoroughly formed on the model of the Greek intrigue-piece; only, as was natural in imitation, they were simpler and shorter. In the details also he borrowed what pleased him partly from Menander, partly from the older national literature. But of the Latin local tints, which are so distinctly marked in Titinius the creator of this species of art, we find not much in Afranius;(8) his subjects retain a very general character, and may well have been throughout imitations of particular Greek comedies with merely an alteration of costume. A polished eclecticism and adroitness in composition— literary allusions not unfrequently occur—are characteristic of him as of Terence: the moral tendency too, in which his pieces approximated to the drama, their inoffensive tenor in a police point of view, their purity of language are common to him with the latter. Afranius is sufficiently indicated as of a kindred spirit with Menander and Terence by the judgment of posterity that he wore the -toga- as Menander would have worn it had he been an Italian, and by his own expression that to his mind Terence surpassed all other poets.


The farce appeared afresh at this period in the field of Roman literature. It was in itself very old:(9) long before Rome arose, the merry youths of Latium may have improvised on festal occasions in the masks once for all established for particular characters. These pastimes obtained a fixed local background in the Latin "asylum of fools," for which they selected the formerly Oscan town of Atella, which was destroyed in the Hannibalic war and was thereby handed over to comic use; thenceforth the name of "Oscan plays" or "plays of Atella" was commonly used for these exhibitions.(10) But these pleasantries had nothing to do with the stage(11) and with literature; they were performed by amateurs where and when they pleased, and the text was not written or at any rate was not published. It was not until the present period that the Atellan piece was handed over to actors properly so called,(12) and was employed, like the Greek satyric drama, as an afterpiece particularly after tragedies; a change which naturally suggested the extension of literary activity to that field. Whether this authorship developed itself altogether independently, or whether possibly the art-farce of Lower Italy, in various respects of kindred character, gave the impulse to this Roman farce,(13) can no longer be determined; that the several pieces were uniformly original works, is certain. The founder of this new species of literature, Lucius Pomponius from the Latin colony of Bononia, appeared in the first half of the seventh century;(14) and along with his pieces those of another poet Novius soon became favourites. So far as the few remains and the reports of the old -litteratores- allow us to form an opinion, they were short farces, ordinarily perhaps of one act, the charm of which depended less on the preposterous and loosely constructed plot than on the drastic portraiture of particular classes and situations. Festal days and public acts were favourite subjects of comic delineation, such as the "Marriage," the "First of March," "Harlequin Candidate"; so were also foreign nationalities—the Transalpine Gauls, the Syrians; above all, the various trades frequently appear on the boards. The sacristan, the soothsayer, the bird-seer, the physician, the publican, the painter, fisherman, baker, pass across the stage; the public criers were severely assailed and still more the fullers, who seem to have played in the Roman fool-world the part of our tailors. While the varied life of the city thus received its due attention, the farmer with his joys and sorrows was also represented in all aspects. The copiousness of this rural repertory may be guessed from the numerous titles of that nature, such as "the Cow," "the Ass," "the Kid," "the Sow," "the Swine," "the Sick Boar," "the Farmer," "the Countryman," "Harlequin Countryman," "the Cattle-herd," "the Vinedresser," "the Fig- gatherer," "Woodcutting," "Pruning," "the Poultry-yard." In these pieces it was always the standing figures of the stupid and the artful servant, the good old man, the wise man, that delighted the public; the first in particular might never be wanting— the -Pulcinello- of this farce—the gluttonous filthy -Maccus-, hideously ugly and yet eternally in love, always on the point of stumbling across his own path, set upon by all with jeers and with blows and eventually at the close the regular scapegoat. The titles "-Maccus Miles-," "-Maccus Copo-," "-Maccus Virgo-," "-Maccus Exul-," "-Macci Gemini-" may furnish the good-humoured reader with some conception of the variety of entertainment in the Roman masquerade. Although these farces, at least after they came to be written, accommodated themselves to the general laws of literature, and in their metres for instance followed the Greek stage, they yet naturally retained a far more Latin and more popular stamp than even the national comedy. The farce resorted to the Greek world only under the form of travestied tragedy;(15) and this style appears to have been cultivated first by Novius, and not very frequently in any case. The farce of this poet moreover ventured, if not to trespass on Olympus, at least to touch the most human of the gods, Hercules: he wrote a -Hercules Auctionator-. The tone, as a matter of course, was not the most refined; very unambiguous ambiguities, coarse rustic obscenities, ghosts frightening and occasionally devouring children, formed part of the entertainment, and offensive personalities, even with the mention of names, not unfrequently crept in. But there was no want also of vivid delineation, of grotesque incidents, of telling jokes, and of pithy sayings; and the harlequinade rapidly won for itself no inconsiderable position in the theatrical life of the capital and even in literature.

Dramatic Arrangements

Lastly as regards the development of dramatic arrangements we are not in a position to set forth in detail—what is clear on the whole—that the general interest in dramatic performances was constantly on the increase, and that they became more and more frequent and magnificent. Not only was there hardly any ordinary or extraordinary popular festival that was now celebrated without dramatic exhibitions; even in the country-towns and in private houses representations by companies of hired actors were common. It is true that, while probably various municipal towns already at this time possessed theatres built of stone, the capital was still without one; the building of a theatre, already contracted for, had been again prohibited by the senate in 599 on the suggestion of Publius Scipio Nasica. It was quite in the spirit of the sanctimonious policy of this age, that the building of a permanent theatre was prohibited out of respect for the customs of their ancestors, but nevertheless theatrical entertainments were allowed rapidly to increase, and enormous sums were expended annually in erecting and decorating structures of boards for them. The arrangements of the stage became visibly better. The improved scenic arrangements and the reintroduction of masks about the time of Terence are doubtless connected with the fact, that the erection and maintenance of the stage and stage-apparatus were charged in 580 on the public chest.(16) The plays which Lucius Mummius produced after the capture of Corinth (609) formed an epoch in the history of the theatre. It was probably then that a theatre acoustically constructed after the Greek fashion and provided with seats was first erected, and more care generally was expended on the exhibitions.(17) Now also there is frequent mention of the bestowal of a prize of victory—which implies the competition of several pieces—of the audience taking a lively part for or against the leading actors, of cliques and -claqueurs-. The decorations and machinery were improved; moveable scenery artfully painted and audible theatrical thunder made their appearance under the aedileship of Gaius Claudius Pulcher in 655;(18) and twenty years later (675) under the aedileship of the brothers Lucius and Marcus Lucullus came the changing of the decorations by shifting the scenes. To the close of this epoch belongs the greatest of Roman actors, the freedman Quintus Roscius (d. about 692 at a great age), throughout several generations the ornament and pride of the Roman stage,(19) the friend and welcome boon-companion of Sulla—to whom we shall have to recur in the sequel.


In recitative poetry the most surprising circumstance is the insignificance of the Epos, which during the sixth century had occupied decidedly the first place in the literature destined for reading; it had numerous representatives in the seventh, but not a single one who had even temporary success. From the present epoch there is hardly anything to be reported save a number of rude attempts to translate Homer, and some continuations of the Ennian Annals, such as the "Istrian War" of Hostius and the "Annals (perhaps) of the Gallic War" by Aulus Furius (about 650), which to all appearance took up the narrative at the very point where Ennius had broken off—the description of the Istrian war of 576 and 577. In didactic and elegiac poetry no prominent name appears. The only successes which the recitative poetry of this period has to show, belong to the domain of what was called -Satura—-a species of art, which like the letter or the pamphlet allowed of any form and admitted any sort of contents, and accordingly in default of all proper generic characters derived its individual shape wholly from the individuality of each poet, and occupied a position not merely on the boundary between poetry and prose, but even more than half beyond the bounds of literature proper. The humorous poetical epistles, which one of the younger men of the Scipionic circle, Spurius Mummius, the brother of the destroyer of Corinth, sent home from the camp of Corinth to his friends, were still read with pleasure a century afterwards; and numerous poetical pleasantries of that sort not destined for publication probably proceeded at that time from the rich social and intellectual life of the better circles of Rome.


Its representative in literature is Gaius Lucilius (606-651) sprung of a respectable family in the Latin colony of Suessa, and likewise a member of the Scipionic circle. His poems are, as it were, open letters to the public. Their contents, as a clever successor gracefully says, embrace the whole life of a cultivated man of independence, who looks upon the events passing on the political stage from the pit and occasionally from the side-scenes; who converses with the best of his epoch as his equals; who follows literature and science with sympathy and intelligence without wishing personally to pass for a poet or scholar; and who, in fine, makes his pocket-book the confidential receptacle for everything good and bad that he meets with, for his political experiences and expectations, for grammatical remarks and criticisms on art, for incidents of his own life, visits, dinners, journeys, as well as for anecdotes which he has heard. Caustic, capricious, thoroughly individual, the Lucilian poetry has yet the distinct stamp of an oppositional and, so far, didactic aim in literature as well as in morals and politics; there is in it something of the revolt of the country against the capital; the Suessan's sense of his own purity of speech and honesty of life asserts itself in antagonism to the great Babel of mingled tongues and corrupt morals. The aspiration of the Scipionic circle after literary correctness, especially in point of language, finds critically its most finished and most clever representative in Lucilius. He dedicated his very first book to Lucius Stilo, the founder of Roman philology,(20) and designated as the public for which he wrote not the cultivated circles of pure and classical speech, but the Tarentines, the Bruttians, the Siculi, or in other words the half-Greeks of Italy, whose Latin certainly might well require a corrective. Whole books of his poems are occupied with the settlement of Latin orthography and prosody, with the combating of Praenestine, Sabine, Etruscan provincialisms, with the exposure of current solecisms; along with which, however, the poet by no means forgets to ridicule the insipidly systematic Isocratean purism of words and phrases,(21) and even to reproach his friend Scipio in right earnest jest with the exclusive fineness of his language.(22) But the poet inculcates purity of morals in public and private life far more earnestly than he preaches pure and simple Latinity. For this his position gave him peculiar advantages. Although by descent, estate, and culture on a level with the genteel Romans of his time and possessor of a handsome house in the capital, he was yet not a Roman burgess, but a Latin; even his position towards Scipio, under whom he had served in his early youth during the Numantine war, and in whose house he was a frequent visitor, may be connected with the fact, that Scipio stood in varied relations to the Latins and was their patron in the political feuds of the time.(23) He was thus precluded from a public life, and he disdained the career of a speculator—he had no desire, as he once said, to "cease to be Lucilius in order to become an Asiatic revenue-farmer." So he lived in the sultry age of the Gracchan reforms and the agitations preceding the Social war, frequenting the palaces and villas of the Roman grandees and yet not exactly their client, at once in the midst of the strife of political coteries and parties and yet not directly taking part with one or another; in a way similar to Beranger, of whom there is much that reminds us in the political and poetical position of Lucilius. From this position he uttered his comments on public life with a sound common sense that was not to be shaken, with a good humour that was inexhaustible, and with a wit perpetually gushing:

-Nunc vero a mane ad noctem, festo atque profesto
Toto itidem pariterque die populusque patresque
Iactare indu foro se omnes, decedere nusquam.
Uni se atque eidem studio omnes dedere et arti;
Verba dare ut caute possint, pugnare dolose,
Blanditia certare, bonum simulare virum se,
Insidias facere ut si hostes sint omnibus omnes-.

The illustrations of this inexhaustible text remorselessly, without omitting his friends or even the poet himself, assailed the evils of the age, the coterie-system, the endless Spanish war-service, and the like; the very commencement of his Satires was a great debate in the senate of the Olympian gods on the question, whether Rome deserved to enjoy the continued protection of the celestials. Corporations, classes, individuals, were everywhere severally mentioned by name; the poetry of political polemics, shut out from the Roman stage, was the true element and life-breath of the Lucilian poems, which by the power of the most pungent wit illustrated with the richest imagery—a power which still entrances us even in the remains that survive—pierce and crush their adversary "as by a drawn sword." In this—in the moral ascendency and the proud sense of freedom of the poet of Suessa—lies the reason why the refined Venusian, who in the Alexandrian age of Roman poetry revived the Lucilian satire, in spite of all his superiority in formal skill with true modesty yields to the earlier poet as "his better." The language is that of a man of thorough culture, Greek and Latin, who freely indulges his humour; a poet like Lucilius, who is alleged to have made two hundred hexameters before dinner and as many after it, is in far too great a hurry to be nice; useless prolixity, slovenly repetition of the same turn, culpable instances of carelessness frequently occur: the first word, Latin or Greek, is always the best. The metres are similarly treated, particularly the very predominant hexameter: if we transpose the words—his clever imitator says—no man would observe that he had anything else before him than simple prose; in point of effect they can only be compared to our doggerel verses.(24) The poems of Terence and those of Lucilius stand on the same level of culture, and have the same relation to each other as a carefully prepared and polished literary work has to a letter written on the spur of the moment. But the incomparably higher intellectual gifts and the freer view of life, which mark the knight of Suessa as compared with the African slave, rendered his success as rapid and brilliant as that of Terence had been laborious and doubtful; Lucilius became immediately the favourite of the nation, and he like Beranger could say of his poems that "they alone of all were read by the people." The uncommon popularity of the Lucilian poem is, in a historical point of view, a remarkable event; we see from it that literature was already a power, and beyond doubt we should fall in with various traces of its influence, if a thorough history of this period had been preserved. Posterity has only confirmed the judgment of contemporaries; the Roman judges of art who were opposed to the Alexandrian school assigned to Lucilius the first rank among all the Latin poets. So far as satire can be regarded as a distinct form of art at all, Lucilius created it; and in it created the only species of art which was peculiar to the Romans and was bequeathed by them to posterity.

Of poetry attaching itself to the Alexandrian school nothing occurs in Rome at this epoch except minor poems translated from or modelled on Alexandrian epigrams, which deserve notice not on their own account, but as the first harbingers of the later epoch of Roman literature. Leaving out of account some poets little known and whose dates cannot be fixed with certainty, there belong to this category Quintus Catulus, consul in 652(25) and Lucius Manlius, an esteemed senator, who wrote in 657. The latter seems to have been the first to circulate among the Romans various geographical tales current among the Greeks, such as the Delian legend of Latona, the fables of Europa and of the marvellous bird Phoenix; as it was likewise reserved for him on his travels to discover at Dodona and to copy that remarkable tripod, on which might be read the oracle imparted to the Pelasgians before their migration into the land of the Siceli and Aborigines—a discovery which the Roman annals did not neglect devoutly to register.

Historical Composition

In historical composition this epoch is especially marked by the emergence of an author who did not belong to Italy either by birth or in respect of his intellectual and literary standpoint, but who first or rather alone brought literary appreciation and description to bear on Rome's place in the world, and to whom all subsequent generations, and we too, owe the best part of our knowledge of the Roman development. Polybius (c. 546-c. 627) of Megalopolis in the Peloponnesus, son of the Achaean statesman Lycortas, took part apparently as early as 565 in the expedition of the Romans against the Celts of Asia Minor, and was afterwards on various occasions, especially during the third Macedonian war, employed by his countrymen in military and diplomatic affairs. After the crisis occasioned by that war in Hellas he was carried off along with the other Achaean hostages to Italy,(26) where he lived in exile for seventeen years (587-604) and was introduced by the sons of Paullus to the genteel circles of the capital. By the sending back of the Achaean hostages(27) he was restored to his home, where he thenceforth acted as permanent mediator between his confederacy and the Romans. He was present at the destruction of Carthage and of Corinth (608). He seemed educated, as it were, by destiny to comprehend the historical position of Rome more clearly than the Romans of that day could themselves. From the place which he occupied, a Greek statesman and a Roman prisoner, esteemed and occasionally envied for his Hellenic culture by Scipio Aemilianus and the first men of Rome generally, he saw the streams, which had so long flowed separately, meet together in the same channel and the history of the states of the Mediterranean resolve itself into the hegemony of Roman power and Greek culture. Thus Polybius became the first Greek of note, who embraced with serious conviction the comprehensive view of the Scipionic circle, and recognized the superiority of Hellenism in the sphere of intellect and of the Roman character in the sphere of politics as facts, regarding which history had given her final decision, and to which people on both sides were entitled and bound to submit. In this spirit he acted as a practical statesman, and wrote his history. If in his youth he had done homage to the honourable but impracticable local patriotism of the Achaeans, during his later years, with a clear discernment of inevitable necessity, he advocated in the community to which he belonged the policy of the closest adherence to Rome. It was a policy in the highest degree judicious and beyond doubt well-intentioned, but it was far from being high-spirited or proud. Nor was Polybius able wholly to disengage himself from the vanity and paltriness of the Hellenic statesmanship of the time. He was hardly released from exile, when he proposed to the senate that it should formally secure to the released their former rank in their several homes; whereupon Cato aptly remarked, that this looked to him as if Ulysses were to return to the cave of Polyphemus to request from the giant his hat and girdle. He often made use of his relations with the great men in Rome to benefit his countrymen; but the way in which he submitted to, and boasted of, the illustrious protection somewhat approaches fawning servility. His literary activity breathes throughout the same spirit as his practical action. It was the task of his life to write the history of the union of the Mediterranean states under the hegemony of Rome. From the first Punic war down to the destruction of Carthage and Corinth his work embraces the fortunes of all the civilized states—namely Greece, Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Carthage, and Italy—and exhibits in causal connection the mode in which they came under the Roman protectorate; in so far he describes it as his object to demonstrate the fitness and reasonableness of the Roman hegemony. In design as in execution, this history stands in clear and distinct contrast with the contemporary Roman as well as with the contemporary Greek historiography. In Rome history still remained wholly at the stage of chronicle; there existed doubtless important historical materials, but what was called historical composition was restricted—with the exception of the very respectable but purely individual writings of Cato, which at any rate did not reach beyond the rudiments of research and narration—partly to nursery tales, partly to collections of notices. The Greeks had certainly exhibited historical research and had written history; but the conceptions of nation and state had been so completely lost amidst the distracted times of the Diadochi, that none of the numerous historians succeeded in following the steps of the great Attic masters in spirit and in truth, or in treating from a general point of view the matter of world-wide interest in the history of the times.

Their histories were either purely outward records, or they were pervaded by the verbiage and sophistries of Attic rhetoric and only too often by the venality and vulgarity, the sycophancy and the bitterness of the age. Among the Romans as among the Greeks there was nothing but histories of cities or of tribes. Polybius, a Peloponnesian, as has been justly remarked, and holding intellectually a position at least as far aloof from the Attics as from the Romans, first stepped beyond these miserable limits, treated the Roman materials with mature Hellenic criticism, and furnished a history, which was not indeed universal, but which was at any rate dissociated from the mere local states and laid hold of the Romano-Greek state in the course of formation. Never perhaps has any historian united within himself all the advantages of an author drawing from original sources so completely as Polybius. The compass of his task is completely clear and present to him at every moment; and his eye is fixed throughout on the real historical connection of events. The legend, the anecdote, the mass of worthless chronicle-notices are thrown aside; the description of countries and peoples, the representation of political and mercantile relations—all the facts of so infinite importance, which escape the annalist because they do not admit of being nailed to a particular year—are put into possession of their long-suspended rights. In the procuring of historic materials Polybius shows a caution and perseverance such as are not perhaps paralleled in antiquity; he avails himself of documents, gives comprehensive attention to the literature of different nations, makes the most extensive use of his favourable position for collecting the accounts of actors and eye-witnesses, and, in fine, methodically travels over the whole domain of the Mediterranean states and part of the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.(28) Truthfulness is his nature. In all great matters he has no interest for one state or against another, for this man or against that, but is singly and solely interested in the essential connection of events, to present which in their true relation of causes and effects seems to him not merely the first but the sole task of the historian. Lastly, the narrative is a model of completeness, simplicity, and clearness. Still all these uncommon advantages by no means constitute a historian of the first rank. Polybius grasps his literary task, as he grasped his practical, with great understanding, but with the understanding alone. History, the struggle of necessity and liberty, is a moral problem; Polybius treats it as if it were a mechanical one. The whole alone has value for him, in nature as in the state; the particular event, the individual man, however wonderful they may appear, are yet properly mere single elements, insignificant wheels in the highly artificial mechanism which is named the state. So far Polybius was certainly qualified as no other was to narrate the history of the Roman people, which actually solved the marvellous problem of raising itself to unparalleled internal and external greatness without producing a single statesman of genius in the highest sense, and which resting on its simple foundations developed itself with wonderful almost mathematical consistency. But the element of moral freedom bears sway in the history of every people, and it was not neglected by Polybius in the history of Rome with impunity. His treatment of all questions, in which right, honour, religion are involved, is not merely shallow, but radically false. The same holds true wherever a genetic construction is required; the purely mechanical attempts at explanation, which Polybius substitutes, are sometimes altogether desperate; there is hardly, for instance, a more foolish political speculation than that which derives the excellent constitution of Rome from a judicious mixture of monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic elements, and deduces the successes of Rome from the excellence of her constitution. His conception of relations is everywhere dreadfully jejune and destitute of imagination: his contemptuous and over-wise mode of treating religious matters is altogether offensive. The narrative, preserving throughout an intentional contrast to the usual Greek historiography with its artistic style, is doubtless correct and clear, but flat and languid, digressing with undue frequency into polemical discussions or into biographical, not seldom very self- sufficient, description of his own experiences. A controversial vein pervades the whole work; the author destined his treatise primarily for the Romans, and yet found among them only a very small circle that understood him; he felt that he remained in the eyes of the Romans a foreigner, in the eyes of his countrymen a renegade, and that with his grand conception of his subject he belonged more to the future than to the present Accordingly he was not exempt from a certain ill-humour and personal bitterness, which frequently appear after a quarrelsome and paltry fashion in his attacks upon the superficial or even venal Greek and the uncritical Roman historians, so that he degenerates from the tone of the historian to that of the reviewer. Polybius is not an attractive author; but as truth and truthfulness are of more value than all ornament and elegance, no other author of antiquity perhaps can be named to whom we are indebted for so much real instruction. His books are like the sun in the field of Roman history; at the point where they begin the veil of mist which still envelops the Samnite and Pyrrhic wars is raised, and at the point where they end a new and, if possible, still more vexatious twilight begins.

Roman Chroniclers

In singular contrast to this grand conception and treatment of Roman history by a foreigner stands the contemporary historical literature of native growth. At the beginning of this period we still find some chronicles written in Greek such as that already mentioned(29) of Aulus Postumius (consul in 603), full of wretched rationalizing, and that of Gaius Acilius (who closed it at an advanced age about 612). Yet under the influence partly of Catonian patriotism, partly of the more refined culture of the Scipionic circle, the Latin language gained so decided an ascendency in this field, that of the later historical works not more than one or two occur written in Greek;(30) and not only so, but the older Greek chronicles were translated into Latin and were probably read mainly in these translations. Unhappily beyond the employment of the mother-tongue there is hardly anything else deserving of commendation in the chronicles of this epoch composed in Latin. They were numerous and detailed enough—there are mentioned, for example, those of Lucius Cassius Hemina (about 608), of Lucius Calpurnius Piso (consul in 621), of Gaius Sempronius Tuditanus (consul in 625), of Gaius Fannius (consul in 632). To these falls to be added the digest of the official annals of the city in eighty books, which Publius Mucius Scaevola (consul in 621), a man esteemed also as a jurist, prepared and published as -pontifex maximus-, thereby closing the city-chronicle in so far as thenceforth the pontifical records, although not exactly discontinued, were no longer at any rate, amidst the increasing diligence of private chroniclers, taken account of in literature. All these annals, whether they gave themselves forth as private or as official works, were substantially similar compilations of the extant historical and quasi-historical materials; and the value of their authorities as well as their formal value declined beyond doubt in the same proportion as their amplitude increased. Chronicle certainly nowhere presents truth without fiction, and it would be very foolish to quarrel with Naevius and Pictor because they have not acted otherwise than Hecataeus and Saxo Grammaticus; but the later attempts to build houses out of such castles in the air put even the most tried patience to a severe test No blank in tradition presents so wide a chasm, but that this system of smooth and downright invention will fill it up with playful facility. The eclipses of the sun, the numbers of the census, family-registers, triumphs, are without hesitation carried back from the current year up to the year One; it stands duly recorded, in what year, month, and day king Romulus went up to heaven, and how king Servius Tullius triumphed over the Etruscans first on the 25th November 183, and again on the 25th May 187, In entire harmony with such details accordingly the vessel in which Aeneas had voyaged from Ilion to Latium was shown in the Roman docks, and even the identical sow, which had served as a guide to Aeneas, was preserved well pickled in the Roman temple of Vesta. With the lying disposition of a poet these chroniclers of rank combine all the tiresome exactness of a notary, and treat their great subject throughout with the dulness which necessarily results from the elimination at once of all poetical and all historical elements. When we read, for instance, in Piso that Romulus avoided indulging in his cups when he had a sitting of the senate next day; or that Tarpeia betrayed the Capitol to the Sabines out of patriotism, with a view to deprive the enemy of their shields; we cannot be surprised at the judgment of intelligent contemporaries as to all this sort of scribbling, "that it was not writing history, but telling stories to children." Of far greater excellence were isolated works on the history of the recent past and of the present, particularly the history of the Hannibalic war by Lucius Caelius Antipater (about 633) and the history of his own time by Publius Sempronius Asellio, who was a little younger. These exhibited at least valuable materials and an earnest spirit of truth, in the case of Antipater also a lively, although strongly affected, style of narrative; yet, judging from all testimonies and fragments, none of these books came up either in pithy form or in originality to the "Origines" of Cato, who unhappily created as little of a school in the field of history as in that of politics.

Memoirs and Speeches

The subordinate, more individual and ephemeral, species of historical literature—memoirs, letters, and speeches—were strongly represented also, at least as respects quantity. The first statesmen of Rome already recorded in person their experiences: such as Marcus Scaurus (consul in 639), Publius Rufus (consul in 649), Quintus Catulus (consul in 652), and even the regent Sulla; but none of these productions seem to have been of importance for literature otherwise than by the substance of their contents. The collection of letters of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, was remarkable partly for the classical purity of the language and the high spirit of the writer, partly as the first correspondence published in Rome, and as the first literary production of a Roman lady. The literature of speeches preserved at this period the stamp impressed on it by Cato; advocates' pleadings were not yet looked on as literary productions, and such speeches as were published were political pamphlets. During the revolutionary commotions this pamphlet-literature increased in extent and importance, and among the mass of ephemeral productions there were some which, like the Philippics of Demosthenes and the fugitive pieces of Courier, acquired a permanent place in literature from the important position of their authors or from their own weight. Such were the political speeches of Gaius Laelius and of Scipio Aemilianus, masterpieces of excellent Latin as of the noblest patriotism; such were the gushing speeches of Gaius Titius, from whose pungent pictures of the place and the time—his description of the senatorial juryman has been given already(31)—the national comedy borrowed various points; such above all were the numerous orations of Gaius Gracchus, whose fiery words preserved in a faithful mirror the impassioned earnestness, the aristocratic bearing, and the tragic destiny of that lofty nature.


In scientific literature the collection of juristic opinions by Marcus Brutus, which was published about the year 600, presents a remarkable attempt to transplant to Rome the method usual among the Greeks of handling professional subjects by means of dialogue, and to give to his treatise an artistic semi-dramatic form by a machinery of conversation in which the persons, time, and place were distinctly specified. But the later men of science, such as Stilo the philologist and Scaevola the jurist, laid aside this method, more poetical than practical, both in the sciences of general culture and in the special professional sciences. The increasing value of science as such, and the preponderance of a material interest in it at Rome, are clearly reflected in this rapid rejection of the fetters of artistic form. We have already spoken(32) in detail of the sciences of general liberal culture, grammar or rather philology, rhetoric and philosophy, in so far as these now became essential elements of the usual Roman training and thereby first began to be dissociated from the professional sciences properly so called.


In the field of letters Latin philology flourished vigorously, in close association with the philological treatment—long ago placed on a sure basis—of Greek literature. It was already mentioned that about the beginning of this century the Latin epic poets found their -diaskeuastae- and revisers of their text;(33) it was also noticed, that not only did the Scipionic circle generally insist on correctness above everything else, but several also of the most noted poets, such as Accius and Lucilius, busied themselves with the regulation of orthography and of grammar. At the same period we find isolated attempts to develop archaeology from the historical side; although the dissertations of the unwieldy annalists of this age, such as those of Hemina "on the Censors" and of Tuditanus "on the Magistrates," can hardly have been better than their chronicles. Of more interest were the treatise on the Magistracies by Marcus Junius the friend of Gaius Gracchus, as the first attempt to make archaeological investigation serviceable for political objects,(34) and the metrically composed -Didascaliae- of the tragedian Accius, an essay towards a literary history of the Latin drama. But those early attempts at a scientific treatment of the mother-tongue still bear very much a dilettante stamp, and strikingly remind us of our orthographic literature in the Bodmer- Klopstock period; and we may likewise without injustice assign but a modest place to the antiquarian researches of this epoch.


The Roman, who established the investigation of the Latin language and antiquities in the spirit of the Alexandrian masters on a scientific basis, was Lucius Aelius Stilo about 650.(35) He first went back to the oldest monuments of the language, and commented on the Salian litanies and the Twelve Tables. He devoted his special attention to the comedy of the sixth century, and first formed a list of the pieces of Plautus which in his opinion were genuine. He sought, after the Greek fashion, to determine historically the origin of every single phenomenon in the Roman life and dealings and to ascertain in each case the "inventor," and at the same time brought the whole annalistic tradition within the range of his research. The success, which he had among his contemporaries, is attested by the dedication to him of the most important poetical, and the most important historical, work of his time, the Satires of Lucilius and the Annals of Antipater; and this first Roman philologist influenced the studies of his nation for the future by transmitting his spirit of investigation both into words and into things to his disciple Varro.


The literary activity in the field of Latin rhetoric was, as might be expected, of a more subordinate kind. There was nothing here to be done but to write manuals and exercise-books after the model of the Greek compendia of Hermagoras and others; and these accordingly the schoolmasters did not fail to supply, partly on account of the need for them, partly on account of vanity and money. Such a manual of rhetoric has been preserved to us, composed under Sulla's dictatorship by an unknown author, who according to the fashion then prevailing(36) taught simultaneously Latin literature and Latin rhetoric, and wrote on both; a treatise remarkable not merely for its terse, clear, and firm handling of the subject, but above all for its comparative independence in presence of Greek models. Although in method entirely dependent on the Greeks, the Roman yet distinctly and even abruptly rejects all "the useless matter which the Greeks had gathered together, solely in order that the science might appear more difficult to learn." The bitterest censure is bestowed on the hair-splitting dialectics—that "loquacious science of inability to speak"—whose finished master, for sheer fear of expressing himself ambiguously, at last no longer ventures to pronounce his own name. The Greek school-terminology is throughout and intentionally avoided. Very earnestly the author points out the danger of many teachers, and inculcates the golden rule that the scholar ought above all to be induced by the teacher to help himself; with equal earnestness he recognizes the truth that the school is a secondary, and life the main, matter, and gives in his examples chosen with thorough independence an echo of those forensic speeches which during the last decades had excited notice in the Roman advocate-world. It deserves attention, that the opposition to the extravagances of Hellenism, which had formerly sought to prevent the rise of a native Latin rhetoric,(37) continued to influence it after it arose, and thereby secured to Roman eloquence, as compared with the contemporary eloquence of the Greeks, theoretically and practically a higher dignity and a greater usefulness.


Philosophy, in fine, was not yet represented in literature, since neither did an inward need develop a national Roman philosophy nor did outward circumstances call forth a Latin philosophical authorship. It cannot even be shown with certainty that there were Latin translations of popular summaries of philosophy belonging to this period; those who pursued philosophy read and disputed in Greek.

Professional Sciences

In the professional sciences there was but little activity. Well as the Romans understood how to farm and how to calculate, physical and mathematical research gained no hold among them. The consequences of neglecting theory appeared practically in the low state of medical knowledge and of a portion of the military sciences. Of all the professional sciences jurisprudence alone was flourishing. We cannot trace its internal development with chronological accuracy. On the whole ritual law fell more and more into the shade, and at the end of this period stood nearly in the same position as the canon law at the present day. The finer and more profound conception of law, on the other hand, which substitutes for outward criteria the motive springs of action within—such as the development of the ideas of offences arising from intention and from carelessness respectively, and of possession entitled to temporary protection—was not yet in existence at the time of the Twelve Tables, but was so in the age of Cicero, and probably owed its elaboration substantially to the present epoch. The reaction of political relations on the development of law has been already indicated on several occasions; it was not always advantageous. By the institution of the tribunal of the -Centumviri- to deal with inheritance,(38) for instance, there was introduced in the law of property a college of jurymen, which, like the criminal authorities, instead of simply applying the law placed itself above it and with its so-called equity undermined the legal institutions; one consequence of which among others was the irrational principle, that any one, whom a relative had passed over in his testament, was at liberty to propose that the testament should be annulled by the court, and the court decided according to its discretion.

The development of juristic literature admits of being more distinctly recognized. It had hitherto been restricted to collections of formularies and explanations of terms in the laws; at this period there was first formed a literature of opinions (-responsa-), which answers nearly to our modern collections of precedents. These opinions—which were delivered no longer merely by members of the pontifical college, but by every one who found persons to consult him, at home or in the open market-place, and with which were already associated rational and polemical illustrations and the standing controversies peculiar to jurisprudence—began to be noted down and to be promulgated in collections about the beginning of the seventh century. This was done first by the younger Cato (d. about 600) and by Marcus Brutus (nearly contemporary); and these collections were, as it would appear, arranged in the order of matters.(39) A strictly systematic treatment of the law of the land soon followed. Its founder was the -pontifex maximus- Quintus Mucius Scaevola (consul in 659, d. 672),(40) in whose family jurisprudence was, like the supreme priesthood, hereditary. His eighteen books on the -Ius Civile-, which embraced the positive materials of jurisprudence—legislative enactments, judicial precedents, and authorities—partly from the older collections, partly from oral tradition in as great completeness as possible, formed the starting- point and the model of the detailed systems of Roman law; in like manner his compendious treatise of "Definitions" (—oroi—) became the basis of juristic summaries and particularly of the books of Rules. Although this development of law proceeded of course in the main independently of Hellenism, yet an acquaintance with the philosophico-practical scheme-making of the Greeks beyond doubt gave a general impulse to the more systematic treatment of jurisprudence, as in fact the Greek influence is in the case of the last-mentioned treatise apparent in the very title. We have already remarked that in several more external matters Roman jurisprudence was influenced by the Stoa.(41)

Art exhibits still less pleasing results. In architecture, sculpture, and painting there was, no doubt, a more and more general diffusion of a dilettante interest, but the exercise of native art retrograded rather than advanced. It became more and more customary for those sojourning in Grecian lands personally to inspect the works of art; for which in particular the winter- quarters of Sulla's army in Asia Minor in 670-671 formed an epoch. Connoisseur-ship developed itself also in Italy. They had commenced with articles in silver and bronze; about the commencement of this epoch they began to esteem not merely Greek statues, but also Greek pictures. The first picture publicly exhibited in Rome was the Bacchus of Aristides, which Lucius Mummius withdrew from the sale of the Corinthian spoil, because king Attalus offered as much as 6000 -denarii- (260 pounds) for it. The buildings became more splendid; and in particular transmarine, especially Hymettian, marble (Cipollino) came into use for that purpose—the Italian marble quarries were not yet in operation. A magnificent colonnade still admired in the time of the empire, which Quintus Metellus (consul in 611) the conqueror of Macedonia constructed in the Campus Martius, enclosed the first marble temple which the capital had seen; it was soon followed by similar structures built on the Capitol by Scipio Nasica (consul in 616), and near to the Circus by Gnaeus Octavius (consul in 626). The first private house adorned with marble columns was that of the orator Lucius Crassus (d. 663) on the Palatine.(42) But where they could plunder or purchase, instead of creating for themselves, they did so; it was a wretched indication of the poverty of Roman architecture, that it already began to employ the columns of the old Greek temples; the Roman Capitol, for instance, was embellished by Sulla with those of the temple of Zeus at Athens. The works, that were produced in Rome, proceeded from the hands of foreigners; the few Roman artists of this period, who are particularly mentioned, are without exception Italian or transmarine Greeks who had migrated thither. Such was the case with the architect Hermodorus from the Cyprian Salamis, who among other works restored the Roman docks and built for Quintus Metellus (consul in 611) the temple of Jupiter Stator in the basilica constructed by him, and for Decimus Brutus (consul in 616) the temple of Mars in the Flaminian circus; with the sculptor Pasiteles (about 665) from Magna Graecia, who furnished images of the gods in ivory for Roman temples; and with the painter and philosopher Metrodorus of Athens, who was summoned to paint the pictures for the triumph of Lucius Paullus (587). It is significant that the coins of this epoch exhibit in comparison with those of the previous period a greater variety of types, but a retrogression rather than an improvement in the cutting of the dies.

Finally, music and dancing passed over in like manner from Hellas to Rome, solely in order to be there applied to the enhancement of decorative luxury. Such foreign arts were certainly not new in Rome; the state had from olden time allowed Etruscan flute-players and dancers to appear at its festivals, and the freedmen and the lowest class of the Roman people had previously followed this trade. But it was a novelty that Greek dances and musical performances should form the regular accompaniment of a genteel banquet. Another novelty was a dancing-school, such as Scipio Aemilianus full of indignation describes in one of his speeches, in which upwards of five hundred boys and girls—the dregs of the people and the children of magistrates and of dignitaries mixed up together—received instruction from a ballet-master in far from decorous castanet-dances, in corresponding songs, and in the use of the proscribed Greek stringed instruments. It was a novelty too— not so much that a consular and -pontifex maximus- like Publius Scaevola (consul in 621) should catch the balls in the circus as nimbly as he solved the most complicated questions of law at home— as that young Romans of rank should display their jockey-arts before all the people at the festal games of Sulla. The government occasionally attempted to check such practices; as for instance in 639, when all musical instruments, with the exception of the simple flute indigenous in Latium, were prohibited by the censors. But Rome was no Sparta; the lax government by such prohibitions rather drew attention to the evils than attempted to remedy them by a sharp and consistent application of the laws.

If, in conclusion, we glance back at the picture as a whole which the literature and art of Italy unfold to our view from the death of Ennius to the beginning of the Ciceronian age, we find in these respects as compared with the preceding epoch a most decided decline of productiveness. The higher kinds of literature—such as epos, tragedy, history—have died out or have been arrested in their development. The subordinate kinds—the translation and imitation of the intrigue-piece, the farce, the poetical and prose brochure—alone are successful; in this last field of literature swept by the full hurricane of revolution we meet with the two men of greatest literary talent in this epoch, Gaius Gracchus and Gaius Lucilius, who stand out amidst a number of more or less mediocre writers just as in a similar epoch of French literature Courier and Beranger stand out amidst a multitude of pretentious nullities. In the plastic and delineative arts likewise the production, always weak, is now utterly null. On the other hand the receptive enjoyment of art and literature flourished; as the Epigoni of this period in the political field gathered in and used up the inheritance that fell to their fathers, we find them in this field also as diligent frequenters of plays, as patrons of literature, as connoisseurs and still more as collectors in art. The most honourable aspect of this activity was its learned research, which put forth a native intellectual energy, more especially in jurisprudence and in linguistic and antiquarian investigation. The foundation of these sciences which properly falls within the present epoch, and the first small beginnings of an imitation of the Alexandrian hothouse poetry, already herald the approaching epoch of Roman Alexandrinism. All the productions of the present epoch are smoother, more free from faults, more systematic than the creations of the sixth century. The literati and the friends of literature of this period not altogether unjustly looked down on their predecessors as bungling novices: but while they ridiculed or censured the defective labours of these novices, the very men who were the most gifted among them may have confessed to themselves that the season of the nation's youth was past, and may have ever and anon perhaps felt in the still depths of the heart a secret longing to stray once more in the delightful paths of youthful error.

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