Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

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(Phil. ed. i 63.)— On the Fescennine verse, Sdwll, Lit. Rom. i. 74.— T. Casaubon, De Satyrica G^a^c. Poesi et Roman. Satira. Hal.
1774. 8. (p. 177).— Cf. Hor. Epist. L. ii. Ep. l.—tV. Belham, Etruscan Literature and Antiquities. Lend. 1842. 2 vols. i.—F.
Stieve, Dissertatio de lei scenicae apud Romanos origine.

§ 305. Before the introduction of the more regular drama from Magna Graecia, there
were also practiced at Rome some performances of a dramatic nature ; particularly the
plays of the Tuscan Histrio}ies, and the FahulcB Atellance. — The former were first in-
troduced about B. C. 364, in order, as is stated, to appease the gods, when their wrath
was felt in a prevailing epidemic. Players were invited from Etruria, and called
Histriones, from the Tuscan word hister; they danced to the music of a flute, with
which they also united singing and mimic actions. These performances were called
Lud) stcenici ; a phrase which was also used to include all the various forms of dramatic

exhibition subsequently introduced. The Fahulce AtellancB derived their origin and

name from Atella, a city of the Osci, lying between Capua and Naples. They were
a kind of rude irregular comedy or farce, in the Oscan dialect. Originally they were
probably in some measure extemporaneous performances, in which the actors after
previous agreement and preparation filled up the scenes according to their own skill and
pleasure. This species of entertainment was very popular at Rome, and continued to
be so after the introduction of the regular drama; and several writers composed pieces
denominated Atellane Fables. The exhibhions of these compositions, and also the
pieces themselves, were called Ludi Osci.

Livni, lib. vii. c. 2— ScASZi, Litt. Rom. i. lo.— Dunlop, Hist. Rom. Lit. i. 2?0. (ed. Phil. 1827).—/. Ca%auhon, (as cited \ 304i.
Xhf l\\ ! U SiUzei Allgemeine Theorie der schonen KOnote. Lpz. 1792. 4. vols. 8. vol. i. p. 518.


§ 306. It should also be remarked, that in the early periods of Rome, there were
national ballads, which celebrated the praises of iiaiive heroes, and the victories gained
by Roman arms. Triumphal songs and pteans were sung by the soldiers marching in
procession through the streets of the city. At convivial feasts likewise, songs of the
same description were rehearsed accompanied with instrumental music. These bal-
lads were founded on the traditions respecting the kings and heroes and early achieve-
ments of the people. Niebulir and Schlegel suppose the stories, which Livy and
others relate in the regular history of Rome, to have been chiefly drawn from such
popular ballads and traditionary poems of the primitive ages. This idea was advanced
by Perizonius in the seventeenth century. It is ingeniously advocated by Macaulay,
who gives " a popular exhibition of the theory and of the evidence by which it is sup-
ported" in the Preface to his " Lays of Ancient Rome," in which he happily attempts
a reproduction of some of the ballads in an English poetical version.

Dunlop, i. 40, 79.— F. Schlegd, Hist, of Lit. led. iii.— G. B. Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome (trans, from Germ, by Hare ^ Thirlwall),
p. 193. vol. i. ed. ?hil. 1835. — Perizonius, Animidversiones Historieae, (c. 6). — T. B. Macaulay, Lays of Ancieol Rome ; coctained
iu his Critical and Miscellaneoiu Easayt. Phil, 1843. 4 vols. 12. vol. iv. p. 30. — Cf. Cicero, Tusc QusesU L. i. c 2. iv. c 2 ^ Bru-
tus, IS, 19.

^ 307. With the exceptions which have been noticed in the preceding sections
(304-306), the Romans had no poetry until their conquests in Magna Greecia. From
this period, they began to imitate the Greeks ; and most of the forms of poetry found
among the latter, were finally introduced at Rome. We shall have occasion to notice
in this sketch, the Dramatic, Epic, Lyric, Bucolic, Elegiac and Didactic ; also the
Fable, the Epigram, and the Satire.

§ 303.(a) Dramatic. It has already been remarked that the drama was the first form
of literature borrowed from the Greeks. Regular dramatic pieces were first exhibited
at Rome, by Livius Andionicus, B. C about 239 or 240, at the commencement of the
secnnd period before specified (§ 301). But the drama never reached a very high degree
of perfection among the Romans. The mass of the people. were more fond of the
public shows and spectacles ; and the higher ranks were engrossed in ambitious pro-
jects for power and wealth. Comedy seems to have been more congenial with the
native taste of the Romans than tragedy; such dramatic performances as preceded
the time of Livius seem to have been wholly of the comical species. — Under the Roman
drama we shall describe (1) Tragedy, (2) Comedy, (3) Atellane Fables, and (4) Mimes.

'J' 309. Tragedy. It has been disputed whether the first drama represented at Rome
by Livius Andronicus, was a comedy or a tragedy. However this may be, he is the
acknowledged founder of Roman tragedy. He was an actor himself, and for a con-
siderable time the sole performer of his own pieces. " Afterwards, however, his voice
failing in consequence of the audience insi-=ting on the repetition of favorite passages,
he introduced a boy who relieved him by declaiming in concert with the flute, while
he himself executed the corresponding gesticulations in the monologues, and in the
parts where high exertion was required, employing his own voice only in the conversa-
tional or less elevated scenes." Hence originated the custom by which the singing or
rehearsal in the monologues was separated from the mimic action, and only the latter
w^as assigned to the actor; a custom which continued in the Roman drama during the
most refined periods.

This chanje from the Grecian custom, iu which the tragic singing and mimic action were performed by one person, is mentioned
by Livy, L. vli. c. 2. The terms Canticum and Dioerhia, commonly interpreted as referring to the monologue or rehearsal, and
didlcgue or conversation, are otherwise explained by some. Cf. Scholl, Hist. Lift Rom. i. p. 108.

^ 310. During the period extending from the close of the first Punic war, to the civil
war of Marius and Sylla, B. C. 88, we find three other principal writers in tragedy
besides Livius Andronicus ; viz. Ennius, Pacuvius, and Attius. Ntevius was also the
author of several tragedies, but held a higher rank as a comic poet. All these authors
drew their materials almost wholly from Grecian originals ; their productions being
either translations or imitations of Greek authors. With a very few exceptions, their
tragedies were of the class termed paUiatcB, i. e. constructed of Grecian characters and
incidents ; only three or four (cf. '5> 353. 1. § 354. 1) were of the class called prcetexlatcB
or togafcB, i. e. composed of native materials. — It is worthy of remark, that these
authors could not avail themselves of personages and events already long celebrated in
epic song, as the Greek tragedians did. Roman poetry commenced with the drama,
and the poets were obliged almost necessarily to go to a foreign mythology and history
for subjects and scenes of a date sufficiently ancient to be employed with dramatic
effect. Whatever causes may be assigned, the fact is a striking one, that the Roinans
exhibit less originaUty in tragedy and in the drama generally than in any other species
of composition.

See T. Baden, De causis neglects apud Romanes tragoediae. Gott. 17S9. 8.— Cf. Dunlop, i. 219-227.—/'. Jacohi (remarks on the
same topic) in the Cftaraktere d. vornehmst. Dichter, iv. p. 332. — W. Schlegel, DramaL Lit.

$ 311. In the next period of Roman literature, extending from the civil war, B. C. 88.
to the death of Augustus, A. D. 14, regular tragedy was almost driven from the stage.
The taste for gladiatorial combats, and the shows exhibited by the aediles, had greatly


increased ; and a simple dramatic representation became rather an insipid thing, unless
attended with a pageantry wholly inconsistent with its proper character. It was in
accordance with this taste, that a " thousand mules pranced about the stage in the
tragedy of Clytemnestra; and whole regiments, accoutred in foreign armoi, were mar-
shalled in that of the Trojan Horse." — The species of representation called Mimes,
was introduced, and was a novel kind of spectacle, which was more agreeable to the

Romans than any thing furnished by the Greek imitations in the regular drama.

Tragedy, however, continued to afford pleasure to many, and writers of merit occupied
themselves in this species of composition, although it was nearly banished from the
stage. C. Julius Ccpsar Strabo, who after having been chief pontiff, was put to death
by order of Cinna, is named as a good tragic poet. The dictator C. Julius CcBsar left
a tragedy entitled CEdipus, of which Augustus, it is said, forbade the pubhcation.
P. Asi?iius Pollio composed tragedies. L. Varivs, a friend of Virgil and of Horace,
named by the former among his heirs, and charged by Augustus with the duty of re-
vising the iEneid, was also a tragic poet. His Thyestes, in the judgment of Quintilian,
might bear comparison with the most perfect performance of the Greeks. Oi;?^ wrote
a tragedy called Medea, applauded by Quintihan, but lost. Mcecenas also left two
tragedies, which are lost, Augustus attempted a tragedy with the title of Ajax.

Towards the close of the last century, G. A^. Hearkens, a physician of Groningen, and author of an interesting account of a journey
made by him in Italy, announced that he had in possession a tragedy in manuscript, entitled Tereus, which was from Varius the
friend of Virgil. In the preface to a collection of poems entitled Icones, published at Utrecht, 1787, he gave some extracts from his
Tereus. But the Abbe Mordli, keeper of the library of St. Mark at Venice, in a letter dated 1792, exposed the literary imposture,
showing that the same tragedy had been published twice, first at Venice, 1558, under the title of Progne, and was written by G.
Corrario, a Venetian.— Sc/iSZZ, Lift. Rom. i. 2\2.—C harden- Larochetle, Melanges de Critique et de Philologie.— HarZaj, Brev. Not.
Lit. Rom. Suppl. i. 494.— .4. Weicheri, De Lucii Varii et Cassii Parmensis vita et carminibus. Grim. 1836. 8.

% 312. In the next period, from Augustus to the Antonines, A. D. 160, the same
taste for shows and for mimes and pantomimes continued among the Romans. Those
writers who composed tragedies, seem to have done it rather for the sake of rhetorical
exercise than with a design to furnish pieces for actual representation on the theatre.
The most distinguished name is that of Seneca; the tragedies ascribed to him have
occasioned much discussion among the critics (cf. % 374. 1). P. Pompoiiius Secundus,
a contemporary of Seneca, is mentioned by the younger Phny, and by Quintilian [hist.
Or. X. 1. 98), as a tragic author of great excellence. .El/nilius Scaurvs was the author
of a tragedy entitled At reus; he was put to death by Tiberius, who was incensed
against him by a passage of his composition, which the emperor imagined to be directed
against himself {Dion Cass. Ivii. 24). Curafius Maternus is cited as a tragic poet of
celebrity; and the titles of four tragedies, Medea, Thyestes, Cato, and Domitius, are
mentioned ; he was put to death by Domitian^ on account of his language in a decla-
mation (//fXirrj) respecting tyranny. — During the last period included in our glance, that
which extends from the Antonines, A. D. 160, to the overthrow of Rome, A. D. 476,
the history of Roman tragedy presents nothing that is worthy of notice^.

1 Cf. Dialog, de causis corrupt, eloquentiae, c. 2, 3. 2 ScfiSll, Lilt. Rom. ii. 266, ss.

There is extant a sort of tragedy, entitled Medea, composed (according to TertuUian, Hasret. c. 39) by Hosidius Gela ; of whom
nothing is known, except that there was a consul in the reign of Claudius by the name of On. Hosidius (or Osidius) Geta. It con-
sists of 461 verses, formed of centos or hemistichs of Virgil ; published in P. Scriverius, f ragmenta vet. trag. cited § 348. 2 j also in
P. Burmann, Anthnl. Lat. ; and in Lemaxre's Poet. Lat. Minores.

For references on Tragedy in general, and Greek Tragedy, see § 40. — On Roman tragedy, see references under § 310 ; cf. ^ 374. I.
—Osann, Analecta critica, cited below, ^ 348. I.— iJoJC, Tragische Bahne der Romer. Anspach, 1777-81. 3 vols. 8.— Planch, De
orizine atque indole trag. ap. Romanos, in his ed. of the Medea of Ennius, cf. § 351. 2. — A. G. Lan^e, Vindicije trag. Rom. Lips.
1822. 4. — C. J. Ch. Reuvens, Collectanea seu Conjecturae in Attium, &c.— max. part, ad Roman, rem scenicam pertinentes. Leyd.

I8I5. 8. a specimen of an intended work to contain all the fragments of the Roman Comic, Tragic, and Satiric writers. On the

earliest dramatic pieces after the Roman, see H'arton, ii. p. 68. Cf. ^ 320.

^ 313. Comedy. It has already been remarked (^ 308), that comedy seems to have
been more agreeable to the native taste of the Romans than tragedy. The earliest
dramatic performances among them were comedies of some sort (cf. § 305). But Li-
vius Andronicus and Ncevius were the first authors of regularly constructed plays.
Plautus, however, may justly be styled the father of Roman comedy; he possessed
pre-eminent talents for this species of composition. Terence followed him, and has ob-
tained equal or greater celebrity. The comedies of both these authors were imitations
or copies from Greek originals. Indeed the regular comedy of the Romans was for
the most part of the kind termed palliatcE, because the personages and incidents were
Grecian. It is from the plays of Terence and Plautus, that we learn the character of
the new comedy of the Greeks (cf. '^ 43).

'?» 314. Plautus and Terence are the principal names in the history of Roman comedy.
But there are some other comic poets of the same period, known to us merely by being
mentioned in ancient authors ; or by sHght fragments of their writings ; as L. Quinctius
Atta, Cferilius Statius, Lucius Afranius, Sextus Turpihus, Quintus Trabeas, P. Lici-
nius Imbrex.

See Fah)-idii.<:, Bibl. Lit. L. iv. c 1. v.— Fragments of these poets are given in H. Stephanus, Comicor. Lat. Fragmenta. Par
1569. 8.— syi«;j, Litl. Rom. i. I3S — Cf. Hor. Epist. L. ii. Ep. i. 79 VeOeim Paterc i. n.—Aultu Gelliut, Noct. Att. xiii. 2,


§ 315. In the next period, the third of our division (<J 301), we meet with the name
of a certain Titinius, who is spoken of by the grammarians as the author of several
comedies. Suetonius {De illust. grammaticis, c. 21) mentions Caius 31elissus, a freed-
man of Mogcenas, as the inventor of a new species of comedy called trabeata. — The
only other name which we have to notice, is that of Verginius Romamis, who belongs
to the following period; he is highly commended by Pliny {Epist. 21. Lib. vi.), as an
author both of mimes and comedies ; by his pieces of the latter class, he is said to have
merited a place by the side of Plautus and Terence. It may be remarked, that un-
der the influence of the love of spectacles and pantomime which has already been
mentioned as adverse to the regular drama at Rome, comedy after the time of Terence
seems to have been still more neglected than tragedy. The writing of comedies fur-
nished less improvement as a mere rhetorical exercise, and would therefore be less
practiced for such a purpose.

^ 316. Two particulars have been pointed out, in which the Latin comedy differed
from the Greek in form. The first, is that the Latin comedy had not the chorus, pro-
perly speaking. The place of the chorus was supplied either by interludes of music
alone, or by the appearance of the troop {grex or caterva), composed of all the actors,
or of the dancers, musicians and singers. The other particular is the use of the pro-
logue, which is not found in the Greek comedy. In Plautus and Terence the prologue
is pronounced in the name of the poet. But perhaps the few remains we have of the
Greek comedy will not justify the assertion that it never contained this sort of intro-

We have already alluded to different kinds of comedy among the Romans. Three
varieties are specified according to the rank of the persons represented ; the prcelextatcB,
in which the personages were civil magistrates ; the traheatcB, in which they were miU-
tary officers ; and the tunicatce or tabernarics, in which people of the lower classes
were represented. — There was also in comedy the same distinction into two kinds, as
in tragedy ; the palliotce, in which Grecian characters and manners were exhibited, so
called from the Grecian dress worn by the actors (palla, pallium) ; and the togatce, in
which Roman characters and manners were represented, hkewise denominated from
the national dress (toga). Quinctius Atta, according to the scholiasts, was the first
who produced a play belonging to the latter class ; and Afranius was the most distin-
guished among the authors in this kind of comedy. — The epithets motoricB and statarice
were also applied to comedies, according as their plot was more or less complicated.

Sulzer'>s Allg. Theor. der schOn. KUnste, i. 52\.—Schmi, Litt. Rom. i. Ug, \3^.—Dunlop, Hist. Rom. Lit. i. 228.— Of. Hor. Ar»
Poet. 228.— On the music of tlie flute in comedy, cf. P. IH. § 238.

§ 317. In glancing at the Roman comedy we must not overlook the two actors so
celebrated among the Romans, viz. ^sopus and Roscius. They were contemporaries
of Cicero, and lived in familiar acquaintance with him. iEsopus is said to have ex-
celled in tragic scenes. Roscius gained such a reputation, both as a comic and as a
tragic actor, that his name became a common term to designate a man of distinguished
excellence in any art or science. — No Grecian actor seems to have acquired a renown
equal to that of these Roman comedians. Yet in Greece, the employment was suffi-
ciently honorable to allow citizens to engage in it, while at Rome it was confined to
slaves or freedmen. The vast extent of the Roman theatres must have increased the
difficulty of performing successfully. We cannot easily conceive how a speaker, ob-
liged to make himself neard by 40 and even 80,000 persons, should be able to preserve
the tones and expression of voice which are requisite in order to touch the feelings.
Another thing added to the task of a Roman actor ; he was obliged to play a female
part sometimes, as women never appeared on the stage except in the character of mimes
or for the purpose of dancing. But the business of a comedian at Rome was very
lucrative ; both ^Esopus and Roscius acquired immense wealth.

Schdll, Litt. Rom. i. 217.— Cf. Cicero, Epist. ad Div. vii. \.— Valerius Max. viii. 2.— Plutarch, Life of Cicero, c. B.~Fliny, Hist.

Nat. X. 72. ix. 59. vii. 40.— Hor. Sat. II. iii. 239. x. 359.— Cicero, pro Arch. c. 8. For a sketch of the education of the Greek

and Roman Actors, see Will. Cooke, Elements of Dramatic Criticism. Lond. 1775. 8.

'^ 318. Atellane Fables. The introduction of the regular drama by Livius Andro-
nicus did not banish, except for a short time, the Atellane Fables. When the poets
ceased themselves to act their own plays and committed them to a set of professed
comedians, the free Roman youth were allowed to perform pieces of this description.
By appearing in such representations, the young patricians were not considered as
reducing themselves to a level with mere stage actors. The Atellane farces were so
popular that several writers engaged in composing them ; and the Oscan dialect, which
was at first employed in them, was gradually abandoned for the Latin. These pieces
consisted of detached scenes following each other without much connection. One of
the characters usually exhibited had the appellation of Maccus, " a grotesque and fan-
tastic personage with an immense head, long nose and hump back, who corresponded
in some measure to the clown or fool of modern pantomime." Pappus was another
character introduced ; a personage, perhaps, of Greek origin rather than of Oscan,
and derived from Ilawnos, the Silenus or old man of the Greek dramatic satvre. — The

3 a2


most approved writers of these fables were Quintus Novus and L. Pomponius Bono
niensis; the latter composed them wholly in Latin, and so much improved them as tc
be called the inventor. Memmius and Sylla are said to have imitated him by writing
piecas of the same kind. There was another species of comic performances prac-
ticed by the Roman youth, called Exodia. These were short pieces of a more loose,
detached, and farcical character even than the Atellanae. They were acted in con-
nection with the Atellane Fables, being introduced at the close, as a sort of after-piece.

Sidzcr, All?. Theorie, i. 518.— ScAoiZ, Litt. Rom. i. 140.— DuJiZop, i. 230.—Vdleius Paterc. lib. ii. c. 9.—f^alerius Max. lib. ii.

C i.—Mhen^is, lib. vi. c. M.— Macrobius. Sat. lib. i. c. 10.— Juvenal, SaL vi. T \ .—Siutoniiis, vit. Galb. c. 13. Seme frasments

of L. Pompouius are found in R. 4- H. Stephaints, Fragmenta vet. Poet. Lat. Par. 1564. 8; also in H. Stephamis, Com. Lat.
Fragm. cited § 314.

§ 319. Mimes. It has been already stated that the regular drama, borrowed from
the Greeks, did not greatly flourish among the Romans. One ground of hinderance
existed, it is believed, in the fondness for a peculiar species of comic representation,
called Mimes, which became very fashionable before the time of Cicero. The Latin
IMimes were considerably different from the Greek Mifioi (cf. § 46). The latter repre-
sented a single adventure taken from ordinary hfe, not having incidents and duration
sufficient for a whole comedy, and not requiring more of gesture or of mimetic arts
than any other dramatic piece. The Mimes of the Romans, on the other hand, had
more of the dramatic character, although they did not contain a full or complete comic
fable, and were represented whh mimetic gestures of every sort except dancing, and
also often exhibited grotesque characters which had no foundation in real life. They
were too generally mere exhibitions of gross and licentious buffoonery. Notwith-
standing this, women sometimes took part in them ; sometimes, according to Valerius
Maximus, submitting to great indecencies; Cytheris is mentioned as a celebrated
actress in these plays. The actor in the Mime, as in other forms of comedy, wore the
soccus, which was commonly of yellow color. Originally the Mimes were employed
merely as afterpieces or as interludes to more regular performances; but subsequently
usurped the principal place themselves, and in a great measure superseded other forms
of the drama. They were warmly patronized by Sylla and Julius Caesar as a public
amusement. The most distinguished authors o{ mimes {?mmographi) were Laberius,
Publius Syrus, and Mattius (cf. § 368); and it is important to remark that these writers
greatly elevated the style of this species of plays, purging them from much of their
grossiiess and ribaldry. Verginius, of a later period (cf. *$> 315), is also celebrated as a
writer of mimes.

SchSU, Litt. Rom. i. 203.— D««iZop, i. 32i.— Becker ^ Zie^ler, as cited § 368. 6.— Cicero, Epist. lib. ix. c. 16.— Ovid, Tristia, lib.
ii. V. i<fl.—Valaim Max. lib. ii. c. 5.

J 319 b. The JMime must not be confounded with the Pantomime. In the former the gestures
were accomi>anied with lansnaire ; but in the latter everythinir was expressed without words.
The paniouiiine was a son of hallet, in which a whole story or drama was represented by means
of attitudes, srestures (loqiiaci manu), and dancing. This species of representation was not in-
vented in the time of Augustus, as is sometimes stated, but was then carried to its greatest
perfection hv the celebrated performers (pantomimi. chironomi) Pylades & Bathyllus. The pan-
tomime was sometimes accompanied with music and songs. The taste for pantomime was dif-
fused from Rome through the provinces ; and although the amusement was repeatedly prohibited
by the emperors, it seems to have continued even after the downfall of the city.

Oct. Fcrrarius. De el Pantominiis. Guelph. 1714. 8.— A': Calliachus, De Ludis seen. Mim. et Pantomim. Patav. 1713. 4.
Both contained in the Novus Thesaurus of Salience (cited P. III. § 197).—/. Meursius, De Sallalionibus veter. contained in the
Thesaurus of Grmrivius, cited P. III. § 13.— De Lliiilnnye, Sallat. Theat. with plates.—/. Weaver, History of the Mimes and Panto-
mmies Lond 1728. ^.—BiiOaneer de RIvery. Reclierches histor. et crit. sur les Mimes et les Pantomimes. Par. 1751. \2.— Burette,

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