Latin comedy

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Ennius (239—169 bc) Roman epic poet and dramatist

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Plautus (c. 254—184 bc) Roman comic dramatist

Terence (c. 190—159 bc) Roman comic dramatist

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Classical Studies


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This term has come to be synonymous with fibula palliata, since the palliatae of Plautus and Terence are the only complete Latin comedies to have survived from antiquity. But there were other types of comedy in Latin (see atellana; fabula; mime; togata), and there was clearly some overlap of subject‐matter, titles, and style between the various types. The palliata; at first happy to allow the inclusion of Roman elements in its Greek setting (as in the plays of Plautus), came to favour greater consistency and thereby perhaps encouraged the development of a separate type of comedy with an Italian setting. Plautus and Terence continued to be performed, and new palliatae to be written, at least until the time of Horace, and togatae too were occasionally revived; but the comic stage came to be dominated by the coarser Atellana (still performed in Juvenal's day) and above all (for several centuries) the mime. It is generally assumed that all actors were male, except in mimes. They certainly wore masks in Atellana, almost certainly in palliata, and perhaps also in togata, but not in mimes.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) — Classical Studies.

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