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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the early development of ludi scaenici (dramatic festivals) at Rome and the introduction there of fabulae palliatae (the type of drama now known as Roman comedy) by Livius Andronicus and Naevius after the end of the First Punic War. Various types of performance have been thought to be precursors of Roman comedy, and their relevance is discussed: Athenian comedies, Rhinthon's mythological burlesques, Atellan farces, Fescennine verses, mimes, and satyr plays. Livy's account of the origins of drama at Rome in Book 7 is scrutinized. The importance of Etruria as a conduit for some types of Greek drama is considered, as well as more direct channels of possible Greek influence. It is emphasized that much guesswork is involved in reconstructing the background to the beginnings of Roman comedy but that Livius Andronicus's adaptation of Greek plays for performance in Latin marked a radically new departure.

Keywords: Atellan farce, Etruria, fabula palliata, Fescennine verses, Livius Andronicus, Livy, ludi scaenici, mimes, Naevius, Rhinthon, Roman comedy, satyr-plays

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