Occubant (present tense), which alludes to the imprisonment of Naevius, an event which cannot be proved to be earlier than 206 B.C. The defects of construction and the absence of "cantica" in the Miles also point to this as one of his early plays.
The imitation of Greek comedy, tragedy and epic poetry, which produced great results in the hands of Naevius, Plautus, Ennius and their successors, received its first impulse from him.
GNAEUS NAEVIUS (c. 264-?
If these lines were dictated by a jealousy of the growing ascendancy of Ennius, the life of Naevius must have been prolonged considerably beyond 204, the year in which Ennius began his career as an author in Rome.
As distinguished from Livius Andronicus, Naevius was a native Italian, not a Greek; he was also an original writer, not a mere adapter or translator.
If it was due to Livius that the forms of Latin literature were, from the first, moulded on those of Greek literature, it was due to Naevius that much of its spirit and substance was of native growth.
Like Livius, Naevius professed to adapt Greek tragedies and comedies to the Roman stage.
The impression we get of the man is that, whether or not he actually enjoyed the full rights of Roman citizenship, he was a 1 "If it were permitted that immortals should weep for mortals, the divine Camenae would weep for Naevius the poet; for since he hath passed into the treasure-house of death men have forgotten at Rome how to speak in the Latin tongue."
The power of Naevius was the more genuine Italian gift - the power of satiric criticism - which was employed in making men ridiculous, not, like that of Plautus, in extracting amusement from the humours, follies and eccentricities of life.
Although our means of forming a fair estimate of Naevius are scanty, all that we do know of him leads to the conclusion that he was far from being the least among the makers of Roman literature, and that with the loss of his writings there was lost a vein of national feeling and genius which rarely reappears.
On Virgil's indebtedness to Naevius and Ennius, see V.
Terence justifies this practice by that of the older poets, Naevius, Plautus, Ennius, whose careless freedom he follows in preference to the "obscura diligentia" of his detractor.
Naevius tried to use the theatre, as it had been used by the writers of the Old Comedy of Athens, for the purposes of political warfare, and thus seems to have anticipated by a century the part played by Lucilius.
But his attacks upon the Roman aristocracy, especially the Metelli, were resented by their objects; and Naevius, after being imprisoned, had to retire in his old age into banishment.
More than Naevius and Plautus he represented the pure native element in that literature, the mind and character of Latium, the plebeian pugnacity, which was one of the great forces in the Roman state.
In Naevius, Plautus, Ennius and Cato are represented the contending forces which strove for ascendancy in determining what was to be the character of the new literature.
Among the writers before the age of Cicero he alone deserves to be named with Naevius, Plautus Ennius and Cato as a great originative force in literature.
Had he been a "semi-Graecus," like Ennius and Pacuvius, or of humble origin, like Plautus, Terence or Accius, he would scarcely have ventured, at a time when the senatorial power was strongly in the ascendant, to revive the role which had proved disastrous to Naevius; nor would he have had the intimate knowledge of the political and social life of his day which fitted him to be its painter.
Hence he never attained to that perfect idiomatic purity of style, which was the special glory of the early writers of comedy, Naevius and Plautus.
He was less productive as a poet than either Ennius or Accius; and we hear of only about twelve of his plays, founded on Greek subjects (among them the Antiope, Teucer, Armorum Judicium, Dulorestes, Chryses, Niptra, &c., most of them on subjects connected with the Trojan cycle), and one praetexta (Paulus) written in connexion with the victory of Lucius Aemilius Paulus at Pydna (168), as the Clastidium of Naevius and the Ambracia of Ennius were written in commemoration of great military successes.
But, notwithstanding the attempt to introduce an alien element into the Roman language, which proved incompatible with its natural genius, and his own failure to attain the idiomatic purity of Naevius, Plautus or Terence, the fragments of his dramas are sufficient to prove the service which he rendered to the formation of the literary language of Rome as well as to the culture and character of his contemporaries.
After the murder of Tiberius by Naevius Sertorius Macro, the prefect of the praetorian guards, which was probably due to his instigation, Caligula ascended the throne amidst the rejoicings of the people.
The example set by Crates led to the production of a new edition of the epic poem of Naevius, and to the public recitation of the Annals of Ennius, and (two generations later) the Satires of Lucilius.
Till the appearance of Ennius, Roman literature, although it had produced the epic poem of Naevius and some adaptations of Greek tragedy, had been most successful in comedy.
Naevius and Plautus were men of thoroughly popular fibre.
Naevius suffered for his attacks on members of the aristocracy, and, although Plautus carefully avoids any direct notice of public matters, yet the bias of his sympathies is indicated in several passages of his extant plays.
Cauer, De Fabulis Graecis ad Romam conditam pertinentibus (1884) and Die Romische Aeneassage, von Naevius bis Vergilius (1886); G.