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ROME-ARTS AND LEARNING.

a Hellene-was Livius ANDRONICUS, who flourished in the latter half of the third

century B. C. Having acquired a mastery of the Latin language, and being in

sympathy with the Roman people, he began to adapt and translate into Saturnian

verse the comedies and tragedies of the Greeks. In this line of literary work he

achieved considerable success, and paved the way for the first native author of

repute, who was Cneius Naevius, of Campania. The latter, like his predecessor,

cultivated dramatic poetry, and to this he added the epic. He asserted his

freedom and originality by selecting purely Roman subjects for some of his

dramas. One was founded upon the rearing of Romulus and Remus, and another upon

the battle of Clastidium. In the way of an epic, he composed a long poem entitled

the Punic War. In this production he employed the old Saturnian verse, which,

having no regular meter, depended wholly for its harmony upon the rise and fall

of the tone in which it was chanted.

The father of Roman poetry-that is, of the epic-was Quintus Ennius, who

flourished between B. C. 240 and 169. He was a friend and companion of the

Scipios. He was thoroughly educated in Greek, and imbued with the spirit of the

new culture. He had much of the true genius of a poet, arid by his mastery of the

Latin tongue, contributed much to improve and perfect its poetical elements. His

greatest work was an epic on Rome, the first part of which was written in the

Saturnian verse, while in the book on the Punic War Latin hexameters were for the

first time successfully employed.

After Ennius came his nephew, the tragic poet Pacuvius, who from being a

successful painter became a more successful man of letters. His chief work

consisted in translations of Greek dramas, in which his office of interpreter was

supplemented with no small store of original genius. The excellence of his works

did much to disseminate a taste for dramatic literature among the Romans, as well

as to establish his own fame as an author. Like him was his younger friend,

Lucius Attius, who flourished from B. C. 160 to 87. By these dates he was carried

forward into the next period of Roman literature; but in spirit and character his

works belong to the epoch of Ennius and Pacuvius.

Though the works produced by the authors just enumerated long continued to be

read and admired by the Roman people, it does not appear that they were the

source of any genuine enthusiasm. The Latin race, indeed, had little of the

tragic sentiment. The heroic passions and emotions, which so agitated the Greek

nature that it swayed back and forth as a stalk shaken by the winds, were wanting

in the Romans, who for the most part regarded life as an affair of business. It

was only with that class of people who, like the Patricians, had wealth and

leisure, and who from a study of Greek literature had acquired a taste for what

they did not naturally possess, that the early tragedy was popular. The civic

masses took little interest in that with which they felt no sympathy. The tragedy

of the Republic remained a work of literature-in many cases a mere exercise in

translation-rather than an active force swaying the hearts and sentiments of the

people. It is believed that the tragedies attributed to Seneca were produced as

rhetorical school dramas rather than with a view to stage representation.

While it is true, however, that the early Romans had little taste for tragic

passion, their aptitude for comedy was of the highest order. They possessed in an

unusual degree the gifts of satirical humor, and the people of the streets were

peculiarly delighted with burlesque and buffoonery. It appears that, even before

the direct influences of Greek culture were felt in Central Italy, a certain

taste for farcical representations had sprung up among the people; so that the

introduction of comedy chimed in with sentiments already attuned to Thalia's

sports. From very early times the rustic populace of Latium had been accustomed,

at village festivals and gatherings of the vintage, to improvise in an inartistic

way comic representations of those aspects of life with which they were familiar.

From this a quaint form of comedy grew up, in which such characters as the

soothsayer, tax gatherer, and doctor were introduced and made ridiculous for the

amusement of the crowd.