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Accius

(c. 170 bc — 186 ad)


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(170–c.86 bc),

Roman tragic poet and literary scholar. Although of conservative political views, he believed that literary talent demanded in its context more respect than nobility of birth. He had a touchy sense of his own importance, always avenging insults. Contemporaries were amused by the outsize statues of himself he had placed in the temple of the Muses.

Over 40 tragic titles are transmitted. Many of them concerned the Trojan cycle of legends. A lengthy hexameter poem, the Annals, found Greek origins for Roman religious festivals. The Didascalica ran to at least nine books and included i.a. the history of both the Athenian and the Roman theatre. Accius wrote here in a mixture of prose and diverse poetical metres.

The grandeur of Accius' tragic style caused some contemporaries to laugh. Cicero, however, who was proud to have known him personally, admired his plays almost as highly as he did those of Pacuvius and cited extensive passages in his dialogues. Columella and Seneca the Younger continued to read him.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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