The Silver Age of Latin Literature, from Tiberius...

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Book Details

Author  Walter C. Summers
Publisher  Forgotten Books
Publication Date   July 13, 2012
ISBN 
Pages  330

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It was fortunate that at the moment when the flowers of this delicate Italian growth began to show signs of languishing, a genial soil for its seeds presented itself in the provinces, destined henceforward to give to Rome sletters that assistance which they had hitherto rendered only to her legions. But the seeds themselves were by no means vigorous or healthy. Long before the chilling frosts of disillusionment and complacency had withered the plant, nay, in the very sejison when it had seemed at its proudest and strongest, experienced eyes had observed processes at work upon it which must inevitably distort its growth and would in the end very possibly extinguish its life. From the outset, almost, Roman literature manifested the tendency to appeal only to the cultivated few. Horace scontempt for the uninitiate throng is but the open confession of the creed that is hinted by Terence sprologues, one hundred years before. Such a tendency need not necessarily be fatal to the production of great literature, but it is fatally apt to encourage that conception of literature which holds a work good or bad according as it conforms to certain rules, and assumes that he who knows those rules may safely write. This second canon is in itself the more dangerous of the two, and was bound to have serious consequences in imperial Rome, where men of ambition who found the main outlet of their energies suddenly closed by the almost total extinction of political Ufe naturally fe Uback upon the once subsidiary channels of literary fame. Under the old r6gime, says Horace, my countrymen affected Od. 3. I. I. Ep. 2. I. 103 sqq.
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)

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