Roman Timeline > The Golden Age of Roman Drama Timeline
There were forms of drama in the Italic peninsula and in Greece before the Golden Age of drama in Rome proper. The start of Roman drama coincided with the development of Latin literature and Rome's heavy involvement in foreign affairs.
240 B.C. (all dates are B.C.) - The Beginning of Latin Literature:
Livius Andronicus adapted a Greek comedy and tragedy for performance on a Roman stage.
240 B.C. was not only the beginning of Greek drama in Rome, but of formal Latin literature. This coincides with the end of the First Punic War (264-241) which is relevant because with the Punic War, Romans came into contact with the Greeks of Southern Italy and Sicily. Instead of being concerned entirely with mastering their physical world, the Romans were now becoming a world power. In addition to adapting Greek drama, Livius Andronicus also translated the Odyssey into Latin. (Duckworth p. 3.)
239: Ennius born.
238: Floralia celebrated.
235 - Beginning of Roman Drama
Naevius (270-201) begins to exhibit his drama.
- Naevius was the first native Roman dramatist.
- Naevius had served in the First Punic War and wrote a Bellum Punicum (Punic War).
- Naevius was interested in the Trojan cycle.
- Naevius also wrote plays on Roman themes and is thus the inventor of the fabula praetexta - Roman historical play.
- Naevius also wrote comedies (fabulae palliatae).
- Naevius was imprisoned for being outspoken, wrote two plays while confined, apologized, was released, did it again, and went into exile in Utica where he died.
219: Pacuvius born. Caecilius Statius born.
211 - Mime in Rome
We don't know when mime first came to Rome, but by 211, the Romans were watching mimic actors. Mimes were normal parts of the Floralia (an annual festival from 173) which was first celebrated in 238. The word mime is from the Greek mimeisthai (to imitate). Romans often called mimic actors planipes (with bare feet) (Duckworth p. 14). The bare feet let the mimic actors, male and female, move around better than actors wearing tragedy's cothurnus (buskin) or comedy's soccus (slipper).
204 - Roman Satire
Ennius (239-169 B.C.) fought in the second Punic War. Cato brought him to Rome. There Ennius worked as a teacher and writer. He wrote poems called Saturae and an epic, the Annales. Ennius substituted for the Saturnian meter, that had been used earlier for Latin epic, the meter of Greek epic poetry, the dactylic hexameter. Annales was the national epic until the Aeneid of Vergil (Virgil) replaced it.
Ennius wrote comedies, fabulae praetextae, and most of all, tragedy.
201: Naevius dies (?).
200: Plautus Stichus. Caecilius Statius (c. 219-168 B.C.) taken as prisoner or brought as slave to Rome.
Plautus (T. Maccius Plautus [254-184]) was an Umbrian. At Rome he acted as a clown in Atellan farces. His name Maccius may come from this occupation. Plautus may also be a stage name and a variation on the word planipes. Plautus worked in the theater in some capacity and may have been a stage hand or carpenter. Duckworth provides a rough chronology of his comedies: Asinaria, Mercator, Miles Gloriosus around 205 B.C., Cistellaria, before 201. Stichus (200 B.C.) Aulularia and Curculio before 191. Pseudolus (191) and then Bacchides, followed by Casina in 185 or 184.
An Insubrian Gaul, Caecilius Statius was a friend of Ennius and, according to *Volcacius Sedigitus, was the best of the Roman comic poets. Caecilius stuck close to Greek originals, but was not a literal translator. Horace praised Caecilius for his gravitas. Varro praised his plot construction. Although an argument from silence, Caecilius may have introduced the idea of avoiding contamination -- meaning following only one Greek original (Duckworth, p.48).
191: Plautus Pseudolus.
189: Ennius goes with Fulvius into Aetolia.
185: Terence born in Carthage.
184: Plautus dies.
173: Ennius wrote the twelfth book of the Annales.
170: Accius born.
169: Ennius dies.
166: Terence - Andria.
165: Terence - Hecyra.
163: Terence - Hautontimorumenos.
161: Terence - Eunuchus and Phormio.
160: Terence - Adelphoe.
159: Terence dies.
154: Pacuvius (220-130) flourished.
Pacuvius was the nephew of Ennius. We know of thirteen of his tragedies. His ancient reputation was "learned." Cicero considered Pacuvius the greates tragic poet of Rome.
148: Lucilius born.
140: Accius (170-86) and Pacuvius exhibit together.
Accius was the most prolific Roman tragedian. He wrote plays based on Greek tragedy and Roman historical themes. Velleius Paterculus thought Accius was the greatest Roman tragic poet.
The End of the Golden Age of Roman Drama.
- George E. Duckworth The Nature of Roman Comedy. Richard C. Beacham The Roman Theatre and Its Audience.
- A History of Roman Literature: From the Earliest Period to the Death of Marcus Aurelius, by Charles Thomas Cruttwell (1877).
*Source: URL = www.nottingham.ac.uk/classics/undergraduate/coursematerials/modulebooklets/q81006%5F2.pdf