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Charles Thomas Cruttwell

Mommsen has truly remarked that the culminating point of Roman development was the period which had no literature. Had the Roman people continued to move in the same lines as they did before coming in contact with the works of Greek genius, it is possible that they might have long remained without a literature. Or if they had wrought one out for themselves, it would no doubt have been very different from that which has come down to us. As it is, Roman literature forms a feature in human history quite without a parallel.

It is not easy for us to realise the effect produced on the Romans by their first acquaintance with Greek civilisation. The debt incurred by English theology, philosophy, and music, to Germany, offers but a faint parallel.

It is well known that Cicero felt strongly tempted to write a history of Rome. Considering the stirring events among which he lived, the grandeur of Rome's past, and the exhaustless literary resources which he himself possessed, we are not surprised either at his conceiving the idea or at his friends encouraging it. Nevertheless it is fortunate for his literary fame that he abandoned the proposal, [1] for he would have failed in history almost more signally than he did in poetry. His mind was not adapted for the kind of research required, nor his judgment for weighing historic evidence.

3. OTHER PROSE WRITERS.

We have dwelt fully on Seneca because he is of all the Claudian writers the one best fitted to appear as a type of the time. There were, however, several others of more or less note who deserve a short notice. There is the historian DOMITIUS CORBULO, [1] who wrote under Caligula (39 A.D.) a history of his campaigns in Asia, and to whom Pliny refers as an authority on topographical and ethnographical questions. He was executed by Nero (67 A.D.) and his wealth confiscated to the crown.

Before entering upon any criticism of the comic authors, it will be well to make a few remarks on the general characteristics of the Roman theatre. Theatrical structures at Rome resembled on the whole those of Greece, from which they were derived at first through the medium of Etruria, [1] but afterwards directly from the great theatres which Magna Graecia possessed in abundance. Unlike the Greek theatres, however, those at Rome were of wood not of stone, and were mere temporary erections, taken down immediately after being used.

On the Acta Diurna and Acta Senatus.

NOTE I.—The Testamentum Porcelli.

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