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At Rome books were sometimes read aloud before their publication—a custom introduced in the time of Augustus by Asinius Pollio. At first these readings took place only before friends especially invited; afterwards they were publicly announced, and were held before great assemblies, either in the theatre or at the public baths or in the Forum, admission being open to all. Introduced, in the first instance, with a view to obtaining the criticisms of the audience, to help the author in the final revision of his work, they soon became of such importance that they determined the success of the work so recited. At the same time second-rate talent was often blinded to its imperfections by the exaggerated applause of a clique. In the time of the younger Pliny these recitations were so much in fashion that (in the April of a particular year) hardly a day passed without one ( Ep. i. 13.1; cf. iii. 7.5; 18.4; v. 17.4; vii. 7; Juv.i. 3; iii. 9; vii. 70, with Mayor's notes). They seem to have continued until the sixth century A.D.

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