It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.
The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal