Outline of Roman Literature*
Hermann Bender saw five distinguishable periods within the life of Roman Literature, roughly corresponding to periods in the life of an individual. There is an origin lost in obscure pre-history, a period of energetic youth, and then, after a period of maturity, a decline. He used another analogy, the familiar "Four Ages," to understand the decline. And so, the five periods are allotted as follows:
  1. A pre-historic period, which ends with Livius Andronicus in about 240 BC. The period produced ritual song and drama;
  2. An archaic period, marked by the growth of Rome as a power and the ineluctable influence of the Greeks, no matter how unwanted. The period ends with Greek domination in literary matters (240—70 BC);
  3. A golden age, which is further subdivided into a Ciceronian age and an Augustan age. Bender then sees a decline marked by a withdrawal inward, perhaps ultimately caused by the repression of political activity (70 BC—14 AD);
  4. A silver age, marked by a diffusion of literary talent from Rome, perhaps due to the repressive rule from Tiberius to Domitian (14—117 AD);
  5. A period of positive decline, which, Bender hints, consists of both brass and iron ages. But is is impossible to know where the seam between these last two ages might be, unless he leaves it to the reader to guess that the patristic tradition constitutes an iron age (117 AD—VIth Century).
all tables from:  A Brief History of Roman Literature by Hermann Bender and translated by EP Crowell & HB Richardson;(Boston: Ginn & Heath, 1988), pp 138—145.