Article

Latin Poetry: From the Beginnings through the End of the Republic

Gesine Manuwald

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0054
Latin Poetry: From the Beginnings through the End of the Republic

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Setting precise period boundaries within the development of literature is notoriously difficult: this survey tries to cover all poetry that was produced during the “Republican period” in chronological terms. It therefore covers the emergence of Roman literature as well as poets who were active in Republican times, such as Livius Andronicus, Naevius, Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius, Plautus, Caecilius Statius, Terence, Lucilius, Lucretius, Catullus, and Cicero, as well as the early works of those poets who are generally labeled “Augustan” but started writing in the final decades of the Republic, Virgil and Horace in particular. The beginning of “Roman literature” is conventionally dated to 240 bce, when the first performances of Greek-style drama at public games are recorded, but the epic Odusia of Rome’s first poet, Livius Andronicus, is likely to have been composed slightly earlier. At any rate, in about the middle of the 3rd century bce literature modeled on Greek precedents emerged in Rome, which meant a significant change from the so-called pre-literary phase. The first Roman poets were versatile and active in a variety of literary genres, such as epic, tragedy, and comedy. When literature became more sophisticated and further genres emerged, differentiation developed, and poets tended to specialize in particular literary genres. During the Republican period as a whole, the genres of epic (narrative and didactic), tragedy, comedy, indigenous dramatic forms, satire, lyric, elegy, epigram, and pastoral were introduced to Rome.

Article.  12219 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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