The Greek Anthology
Edited with a Revised Text, Translation, and Notes, by J. W. Mackail
London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1890
Biographies of the Epigrammatists - Greek Literature From the Earliest Period to the Persian Wars
IV. Roman period; from the establishment of the Empire to the decay of art and letters after the death of Marcus Aurelius, B.C. 30-A.D. 180.
This period falls into three subdivisions; (1) poets of the Augustan age; (2) those of what may roughly be called the Neronian age, about the middle of the first century; and (3) those of the brief and partial renascence of art and letters under Hadrian, which, before the accession of Commodus, had again sunk away, leaving a period of some centuries almost wholly without either, but for the beginnings of Christian art and the writings of the earlier Fathers of the Church. Even from the outset of this period the epigram begins to fall off. There is a tendency to choose trifling subjects, and treat them either sentimentally or cynically. The heaviness of Roman workmanship affects all but a few of the best epigrams, and there is a loss of simplicity and clearness of outline. Many of the poets of this period, if not most, lived as dependants in wealthy Roman families and wrote to order: and we see in their work the bad results of an excessive taste for rhetoric and the practice of fluent but empty improvisation.