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The Common People of Ancient Rome Studies of Roman Life and Literature   By: (1860-1924)

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[Transcriber's note: This book makes use of the Roman denarius symbol. Because this symbol is not available in Unicode, it has been replaced by the ROMAN NUMERAL TEN (U2169) with a COMBINING LONG STROKE OVERLAY (U0336) in the UTF 8 version.]

The Common People of Ancient Rome

Studies of Roman Life and Literature


Frank Frost Abbott

Kennedy Professor of the Latin Language and Literature in Princeton University

New York Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright, 1911, by Charles Scribner's Sons

Printed in the United States of America

Dedicated to J. H. A.

Prefatory Note

This book, like the volume on "Society and Politics in Ancient Rome," deals with the life of the common people, with their language and literature, their occupations and amusements, and with their social, political, and economic conditions. We are interested in the common people of Rome because they made the Roman Empire what it was. They carried the Roman standards to the Euphrates and the Atlantic; they lived abroad as traders, farmers, and soldiers to hold and Romanize the provinces, or they stayed at home, working as carpenters, masons, or bakers, to supply the daily needs of the capital.

The other side of the subject which has engaged the attention of the author in studying these topics has been the many points of similarity which arise between ancient and modern conditions, and between the problems which the Roman faced and those which confront us. What policy shall the government adopt toward corporations? How can the cost of living be kept down? What effect have private benefactions on the character of a people? Shall a nation try to introduce its own language into the territory of a subject people, or shall it allow the native language to be used, and, if it seeks to introduce its own tongue, how can it best accomplish its object? The Roman attacked all these questions, solved some of them admirably, and failed with others egregiously. His successes and his failures are perhaps equally illuminating, and the fact that his attempts to improve social and economic conditions run through a period of a thousand years should make the study of them of the greater interest and value to us.

Of the chapters which this book contains, the article on "The Origin of the Realistic Romance among the Romans" appeared originally in Classical Philology , and the author is indebted to the editors of that periodical for permission to reprint it here. The other papers are now published for the first time.

It has not seemed advisable to refer to the sources to substantiate every opinion which has been expressed, but a few references have been given in the foot notes mainly for the sake of the reader who may wish to follow some subject farther than has been possible in these brief chapters. The proofs had to be corrected while the author was away from his own books, so that he was unable to make a final verification of two or three of the citations, but he trusts that they, as well as the others, are accurate. He takes this opportunity to acknowledge his indebtedness to Dr. Donald Blythe Durham, of Princeton University, for the preparation of the index.

Frank Frost Abbott. Einsiedeln, Switzerland September 2, 1911


How Latin Became the Language of the World The Latin of the Common People The Poetry of the Common People of Rome: I. Their Metrical Epitaphs II. Their Dedicatory and Ephemeral Verses The Origin of the Realistic Romance Among the Romans Diocletian's Edict and the High Cost of Living Private Benefactions and Their Effect on the Municipal Life of the Romans Some Reflections on Corporations and Trade Guilds A Roman Politician, Gaius Scribonius Curio Gaius Matius, a Friend of C├Žsar


The Common People of Ancient Rome

How Latin Became the Language of the World

How the armies of Rome mastered the nations of the world is known to every reader of history, but the story of the conquest by Latin of the languages of the world is vague in the minds of most of us... Continue reading book >>

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