400-201 BC PART XIV
400 - 201 BC
The Ten Thousand
The Political Environment
Corinthian War
Agesilaus II
"Life of
Peace of Antalcidas
The Struggle for Supremacy
Marcus Manlius Capitolinus
The Thirtieth Dynasty of ancient Egypt
Plutarch "Life of Pelopidas"
Battle of Leuctra
Battle of Leuctra
The Battle of Mantinea
Marcus Furius Camillus
Plutarch "Life of Camillus"
Ariarathes I of Cappadocia
The Struggle for Supremacy-2
The Rise of Macedonia
Alexander I
Macedonia as a Great Power under Philip II
Philip II
Battle of Chaeronea
Battle of Chaeronea
The Third Sacred War
Samnite Wars
The Persian Empire under the Later Achaemenids
Artaxerxes III
Alexander the Great-1
Alexander the Great and His Campaigns
Aristotle "Poetics", "The Categories"
Aristotle and Phyllis
The Persian Empire under the Later Achaemenids
Darius III
The Battle of Issus
Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
Second Samnite War
Alexander the Great-2
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
The Empire of Alexander the Great
Plutarch "Life of Alexander"
Alexander's Goals and Failure
Alexander the Great -3
Macedonia after Alexander's Death
Macedonia under the Antigonids
The Kingdoms of the Diadochoi
Wars of the Diadochi
Ptolemy I Soter
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Seleucus I Nicator
Battle of Ipsus
Battle of Ipsus
Philip III of Macedon
Alexander IV of Macedon
Eurydice II of Macedon
Cleopatra of Macedon
Eumenes of Cardia
Plutarch "Life of Eumenes"
Pyrrhus of Epirus
Plutarch "Life of Pyrrhus"
Demetrius Poliorcetes
Plutarch "Life of Demetrius"
Ptolemy Keraunos
Alexander the Great-4
Third Samnite War
Lucius Papirius Cursor
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Antiochus I Soter
Stratonice of Syria
Antigonus II Gonatas
The Rise of Carthage to Military and Economic Power
The First Punic War
Hamilcar Barca
Ptolemy III Euergetes
Jacob Abbott  "Hannibal"
Antiochus II Theos
Seleucus II Callinicus
Agis IV
Plutarch "Life of Agis"
Marcus Porcius Cato
Plutarch "Life of Marcus Cato"
Publius Cornelius Scipio
Antigonus III Doson
Cleomenes III
"Life of
Hannibal in Quotations
The Second Punic War
Battle of Cannae
Battle of Cannae
The Siege of Syracuse
Battle of the Metaurus
Battle of Metaurus River
Battle of Zama
Battle of Zama
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus
Plutarch "Life of Fabius"
Philip V
Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Plutarch "Life of Marcellus"
Antiochus III
Qin dynasty
The Terracotta army
The Terracotta army
Battle of Kai-hsia
Battle of Kai-hsia
Han dynasty
Liu Bang
Intellectual Innovations in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries
The Death of Socrates
Eucleides of Megara
"The Categories"
Aristotle and Phyllis
"Life of Demosthenes"
Demosthenes Quotes
Heraclides Ponticus
The Parian Marble
Zeno of Citium
Quintus Fabius Pictor
The Rise of Individualism
Ancient Greek Sculpture
The Temple of Concordia
The Greek theater of Epidaurus
Pamphilus of Amphipolis
Philosophy in Art
Hellenistic Baroque
Baroque Ancient and Modern
Colossus of Rhodes
Pharos of Alexandria
The Farnese Tazza
Temple of Edfu
"An illustrated version of
Valmiki's Story
Timotheus of Miletus
Apollonius of Rhodes
Apollonius of Rhodes
"Jason and the Golden Fleece" (The Argonautica)
Lucius Livius Andronicus
Quintus Ennius
Gnaeus Naevius
Apollonius of Perga
From Phalanx to Legion
From Phalanx to Legion
Alexandria founded by Alexander the Great
Common Coins of the Roman Empir
Ancient Greek Clothing
The Costume History
Ancient Greek Clothing

  "Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that makes
Low music o'er the spring, and, Goatherd, sweet
Thy piping; second thou to Pan alone.
Is his the horned ram? then thine the goat.
Is his the goat? to thee shall fall the kid;
And toothsome is the flesh of unmilked kids."

Theocritus "Idylls"


    400-351 BC

Aristophanes d. с. -387 (b. с -450)

Etruscan actors stage the first theatrical performances in Rome -365
    350-301 BC

The Indian heroic epic "Mahabharata" being written (probably to A.D. 350)

Menander, Greek comedy author, b. -342 (d. -290)

Earliest extant papyrus written in Greek, the "Persae" of Timotheus of Miletus -325

Theocritus, Greek bucolic poet, b. -320 (d. -250)
    300-251 BC

Apollonius of Rhodes, Greek poet, b. с.-293 (d. с. -215)

Menander, master of the Greek New Comedy, d. -290

Philemon, MenanderMenander's rival as a New Comedy poet in Athens, d. -263
    250-201 BC

Plautus, Roman comedy author, b. с. -250

The comedies of Livius Andronicus first performed in Rome -240

Quintus Ennius, the poet, "father of Latin literature," b. -239 (d. -170)

Plautus: "Miles gloriosus," comedy -205

Gnaeus Naevius, Roman poet and comedy author, d. -201
    400-351 BC
    Aristophanes death с. -387 (born с. -450)


"Ah! if only they had been invited to a Bacchic revelling, or a feast of Pan or Aphrodite or Genetyllis, why! the streets would have been impassable for the thronging tambourines! Now there's never a woman here-ah! except my neighbour Cleonice, whom I see approaching yonder..."

    350-301 BC

Mahabharata, ( Sanskrit: “Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty”) one of the two Sanskrit great epic poems of ancient India (the other being the Ramayana).

Rama and his animal armies (Banaras school, early 1600's)
The Mahabharata is an important source of information on the development of Hinduism between 400 bce and 200 ce and is regarded by Hindus as both a text about dharma (Hindu moral law) and a history (itihasa, literally “that’s what happened”). Appearing in its present form about 400 ce, the Mahabharata consists of a mass of mythological and didactic material arranged around a central heroic narrative that tells of the struggle for sovereignty between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas (sons of Dhritarashtra, the descendant of Kuru) and the Pandavas (sons of Pandu). The poem is made up of almost 100,000 couplets—about seven times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined—divided into 18 parvans, or sections, plus a supplement titled Harivamsha (“Genealogy of the God Hari”; i.e., of Vishnu). Although it is unlikely that any single person wrote the poem, its authorship is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyasa, who appears in the work as the grandfather of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The traditional date for the war that is the central event of the Mahabharata is 1302 bce, but most historians assign it a later date.   The story begins when the blindness of Dhritarashtra, the elder of two princes, causes him to be passed over in favour of his brother Pandu as king on their father’s death. A curse prevents Pandu from fathering children, however, and his wife Kunti asks the gods to father children in Pandu’s name.

As a result, Dharma fathers Yudhishtira, the Wind fathers Bhima, Indra fathers Arjuna, and the Ashvins (twins) father Nakula and Sahadeva (also twins; born to Pandu’s second wife, Madri). The enmity and jealousy that develops between the cousins forces the Pandavas to leave the kingdom when their father dies. During their exile the five jointly marry Draupadi (who is born out of a sacrificial fire and whom Arjuna wins by shooting an arrow through a row of targets) and meet their cousin Krishna, who remains their friend and companion thereafter.

Although the Pandavas return to the kingdom, they are again exiled to the forest, this time for 12 years, when Yudhishthira loses everything in a game of dice with Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas.
The meeting of Rama and Parasurama, painted by Manohar (Mewar school, 1649)
The feud culminates in a series of great battles on the field of Kurukshetra (north of Delhi, in Haryana state). All the Kauravas are annihilated, and, on the victorious side, only the five Pandava brothers and Krishna survive. Krishna dies when a hunter, who mistakes him for a deer, shoots him in his one vulnerable spot—his foot—and the five brothers, along with Draupadi and a dog who joins them (the god Dharma, Yudhisththira’s father, in disguise), set out for Indra’s heaven. One by one they fall on the way, and Yudhisthira alone reaches the gate of heaven. After further tests of his faithfulness and constancy, he is finally reunited with his brothers and Draupadi, as well as with his enemies, the Kauravas, to enjoy perpetual bliss.
The central plot constitutes little more than one fifth of the total work. The remainder of the poem addresses a wide range of myths and legends, including the romance of Damayanti and her husband Nala (who gambles away his kingdom just as Yudhishthira gambles away his) and the legend of Savitri, whose devotion to her dead husband persuades Yama, the god of death, to restore him to life. The poem also contains descriptions of places of pilgrimages. Along with its basic plot and accounts of numerous myths, the Mahabharata reveals the evolution of Hinduism and its relations with other religions during its composition.
  The period during which the epic took shape was one of transition from Vedic sacrifice to sectarian Hinduism, as well as a time of interaction—sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile—with Buddhism and Jainism.

Different sections of the poem express varying beliefs, often in creative tension. Some sections, such as the Narayaniya (a part of book 13), the Bhagavadgita (book 6), the Anugita (book 14), and the Harivamsha, are important sources of early Vaishnava theology, in which Krishna is an avatar of the god Vishnu.

Above all, the Mahabharata is an exposition of dharma (codes of conduct), including the proper conduct of a king, of a warrior, of an individual living in times of calamity, and of a person seeking to attain freedom from rebirth. The poem repeatedly demonstrates that the conflicting codes of dharma are so “subtle” that, in some situations, the hero cannot help but violate them in some respect, no matter what choice he makes.

The Mahabharata story has been retold in written and oral Sanskrit and vernacular versions throughout South and Southeast Asia. Its various incidents have been portrayed in stone, notably in sculptured reliefs at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in Cambodia, and in Indian miniature paintings.
Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda, 1652

Ramayana, ( Sanskrit: “Romance of Rama”) shorter of the two great epic poems of India, the other being the Mahabharata (“Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty”). The Ramayana was composed in Sanskrit, probably not before 300 bce, by the poet Valmiki, and in its present form consists of some 24,000 couplets divided into seven books.

The poem describes the royal birth of Rama in the kingdom of Ayodhya (Oudh), his tutelage under the sage Vishvamitra, and his success in bending Shiva’s mighty bow at the bridegroom tournament of Sita, the daughter of King Janaka, thus winning her for his wife. After Rama is banished from his position as heir by an intrigue, he retreats to the forest with his wife and his favourite half brother, Lakshmana, to spend 14 years in exile. There Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka, carries off Sita to his capital, while her two protectors are busy pursuing a golden deer sent to the forest to mislead them. Sita resolutely rejects Ravana’s attentions, and Rama and his brother set about to rescue her. After numerous adventures they enter into alliance with Sugriva, king of the monkeys; and with the assistance of the monkey-general Hanuman and Ravana’s own brother, Vibhishana, they attack Lanka. Rama slays Ravana and rescues Sita, who in a later version undergoes an ordeal by fire in order to clear herself of the suspicions of infidelity. When they return to Ayodhya, however, Rama learns that the people still question the queen’s chastity, and he banishes her to the forest. There she meets the sage Valmiki (the reputed author of the Ramayana) and at his hermitage gives birth to Rama’s two sons.   The family is reunited when the sons become of age, but Sita, after again protesting her innocence, asks to be received by the earth, which swallows her up.
The poem enjoys immense popularity in India, where its recitation is considered an act of great merit. Many of its translations into the vernacular languages are themselves works of great literary merit, including the Tamil version of Kampan, the Bengali version of Krittibas, and the Hindi version, Ramcharitmanas, of Tulsidas. Throughout North India the events of the poem are enacted in an annual pageant, the Ram Lila, and in South India the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, even today make up the story repertoire of the kathakali dance-drama of Malabar. The Ramayana was popular even during the Mughal period (16th century), and it was a favourite subject of Rajasthani and Pahari painters of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The story also spread in various forms throughout Southeast Asia (especially Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand); and its heroes, together with the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata, were the heroes of traditional Javanese-Balinese theatre, dance, and shadow plays. Incidents from the Ramayana are carved in bas-relief on many Indonesian monuments—for example, at Panataran in eastern Java.



An illustrated version of

Valmiki's Story
Rama redeeming Ahalya, a sculpture from Deogarh,
now in the National Museum, Delh
Lakshman prepares to mutilate Surpanakha,
in a carving from Deogarh (Gupta period, c.500's CE)
    350-301 BC

Menander, (born c. 342 bc—died c. 292 bc), Athenian dramatist whom ancient critics considered the supreme poet of Greek New Comedy—i.e., the last flowering of Athenian stage comedy. During his life, his success was limited; although he wrote more than 100 plays, he won only eight victories at Athenian dramatic festivals.


  Comedy had by his time abandoned public affairs and was concentrating instead on fictitious characters from ordinary life; the role of the chorus was generally confined to the performance of interludes between acts. Actors’ masks were retained but were elaborated to provide for the wider range of characters required by a comedy of manners and helped an audience without playbills to recognize these characters for what they were. Menander, who wrote in a refined Attic, by his time the literary language of the Greek-speaking world, was masterly at presenting such characters as stern fathers, young lovers, greedy demimondaines, intriguing slaves, and others.
Menander’s nicety of touch and skill at comedy in a light vein is clearly evident in the Dyscolus in the character of the gruff misanthrope Knemon, while the subtle clash and contrast of character and ethical principle in such plays as Perikeiromenē (interesting for its sympathetic treatment of the conventionally boastful soldier) and Second Adelphoe constitute perhaps his greatest achievement.
Menander’s works were much adapted by the Roman writers Plautus and Terence, and through them he influenced the development of European comedy from the Renaissance. Their work also supplements much of the lost corpus of his plays, of which no complete text exists, except that of the Dyscolus, first printed in 1958 from some leaves of a papyrus codex acquired in Egypt.
    The known facts of Menander’s life are few. He was allegedly rich and of good family, and a pupil of the philosopher Theophrastus, a follower of Aristotle. In 321 Menander produced his first play, Orgē (“Anger”). In 316 he won a prize at a festival with the Dyscolus and gained his first victory at the Dionysia festival the next year. By 301 Menander had written more than 70 plays. He probably spent most of his life in Athens and is said to have declined invitations to Macedonia and Egypt. He allegedly drowned while swimming at the Piraeus (Athens’ port).
Roman fresco of the Greek dramatist Menander from the Casa del Menandro in Pompeii.
    Timotheus of Miletus

Timotheus of Miletus (c. 446-357 BC) was a Greek musician and dithyrambic poet, an exponent of the "new music."

     He added one or more strings to the lyre, whereby he incurred the displeasure of the Spartans and Athenians (E. Curtius, Hist of Greece, bk. v. ch. 2). He composed musical works of a mythological and historical character.

He spent some years in the court of Archelaus I of Macedon.

Fragments of Timotheus' poetry survive, published in T. Bergk, Poetae lyrici graeci. A papyrus-fragment of his Persians (possibly the oldest Greek papyrus in existence), discovered at Abusir has been edited by U. von Wilamowitz-Mollendorff (1903), with discussion of the nome, metre, the number of strings of the lyre, date of the poet and fragment.


Theocritus, (born c. 300 bc, Syracuse, Sicily [Italy]—died after 260 bc), Greek poet, the creator of pastoral poetry. His poems were termed eidyllia (“idylls”), a diminutive of eidos, which may mean “little poems.”
There are no certain facts as to Theocritus’s life beyond those supplied by the idylls themselves. Certainly he lived in Sicily and at various times in Cos and Alexandria and perhaps in Rhodes. The surviving poems by Theocritus that are generally held to be authentic comprise bucolics (pastoral poetry), mimes with either rural or urban settings, brief poems in epic or lyric metres, and epigrams.

    The bucolics are the most characteristic and influential of Theocritus’s works. They introduced the pastoral setting in which shepherds wooed nymphs and shepherdesses and held singing contests with their rivals. They were the sources of Virgil’s Eclogues and much of the poetry and drama of the Renaissance and were the ancestors of the famous English pastoral elegies, John Milton’s “Lycidas,” Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Adonais,” and Matthew Arnold’s “Thyrsis.” Among the best known of his idylls are Thyrsis (Idyll 1), a lament for Daphnis, the original shepherd poet, who died of unrequited love; Cyclops, a humorous depiction of ugly Polyphemus vainly wooing the sea nymph Galatea; and Thalysia (“Harvest Home,” Idyll 7), describing a festival on the island of Cos. In this the poet speaks in the first person and introduces contemporary friends and rivals in the guise of rustics.
Theocritus’s idylls have none of the artificial prettiness of the pastoral poetry of a later age. They have been criticized as attributing to peasants sentiments and language beyond their capacity, but Theocritus’s realism was intentionally partial and selective. He was not trying to write documentaries of peasant life. Even so, comparison with modern Greek folk songs, which owe little to literary influences, reveals striking resemblances between them and Theocritus’s bucolics, and there can be little doubt that both derive from


illustratyons by William Russell Flint

"Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that makes
Low music o'er the spring, and, Goatherd, sweet
Thy piping; second thou to Pan alone..."

    300-251 BC
    Apollonius of Rhodes

Apollonius of Rhodes, (b. с. 293, d. с. 215), Greek poet and grammarian who was the author of the Argonautica.

The two lives contained in the Laurentian manuscript of the Argonautica say that Apollonius was a pupil of Callimachus; that he gave a recitation of the Argonautica at Alexandria; and that when this proved a failure he retired to Rhodes. The first life adds the detail that the poet was still an adolescent when this happened, though it had previously said that he turned late to writing poetry. Both lives say that the Argonautica was well received in Rhodes, and the second cites a report that Apollonius returned to Alexandria and was appointed chief librarian. Another work has him succeed Eratosthenes in this post. But in a list of Alexandrian librarians on a late 2nd-century-ad papyrus (Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1241), Apollonius succeeds Zenodotus and precedes Eratosthenes. If this evidence is accepted it may be conjectured that Apollonius became librarian about 260 bc and continued as such until about 247, when he fell out of favour under the new king, Ptolemy Euergetes, and retired to Rhodes. The traditional story of his quarrel with Callimachus was probably an ancient invention.

In the Argonautica, an epic in four books on the voyage of the Argonauts, Apollonius adapted the language of Homer to the needs of a romantic epic with considerable success; in recounting Medea’s love for Jason, he shows a capacity for sympathetic analysis not found in earlier Greek literature. Apollonius often holds the reader by his fresh handling of old episodes, his suggestive similes, and his admirable descriptions of nature. In general, his style is informed by a selection of traditional themes and forms that he recasts in accordance with the poetic ideals of his age. Besides the Argonautica, Apollonius wrote epigrams and poems on the foundations (Ktiseis) of cities, most of which are lost. As a grammarian, Apollonius is credited with a work “against Zenodotus” and philological monographs on several Greek poets
Argonauts ship by Lorenzo Costa
  Apollonius of Rhodes

Jason and the Golden Fleece (The Argonautica)

Beginning with you, Phoebus, I will recount the famous deeds of men of old, who, at the behest of King Pelias, down through the mouth of Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks, sped well-benched Argo in quest of the golden fleece...

Philemon (Greek: Φιλήμων); (ca. 362 BC – ca. 262 BC) was an Athenian poet and playwright of the New Comedy.
  He was born either at Soli in Cilicia or at Syracuse in Sicily but moved to Athens some time before 330 BC, when he is known to have been producing plays.

He must have enjoyed remarkable popularity, for he repeatedly won victories over his younger contemporary and rival Menander, whose delicate wit was apparently less to the taste of the Athenians of the time than Philemon's more showy comedy. To later times his successes over Menander were so unintelligible as to be ascribed to the influence of malice and intrigue.

Except for a short sojourn in Egypt with Ptolemy II Philadelphus, he passed his life at Athens.

He there died, nearly a hundred years old, but with mental vigour unimpaired, about the year 262 BC, according to the story, at the moment of his being crowned on the stage.

    250-201 BC

Plautus, (born c. 254 bc , Sarsina, Umbria? [Italy]—died 184), great Roman comic dramatist, whose works, loosely adapted from Greek plays, established a truly Roman drama in the Latin language.

Little is known for certain about the life and personality of Plautus, who ranks with Terence as one of the two great Roman comic dramatists. His work, moreover, presents scholars with a variety of textual problems, since the manuscripts by which his plays survive are corrupt and sometimes incomplete. Nevertheless, his literary and dramatic skills make his plays enjoyable in their own right, while the achievement of his comic genius has had lasting significance in the history of Western literature and drama.
According to the grammarian Festus (2nd or 3rd century ad), Plautus was born in northeastern central Italy. His customarily assigned birth and death dates are largely based on statements made by later Latin writers, notably Cicero in the 1st century bc. Even the three names usually given to him—Titus Maccius Plautus—are of questionable historical authenticity. Internal evidence in some of the plays does, it is true, suggest that these were the names of their author, but it is possible that they are stage names, even theatrical jokes or allusions. (“Maccus,” for example, was the traditional name of the clown in the “Atellan farces,” a long-established popular burlesque, native to the Neapolitan region of southern Italy; “Plautus,” according to Festus, derives from planis pedibus, planipes [flat-footed] being a pantomime dancer.)
    There are further difficulties: the poet Lucius Accius (170–c. 86 bc), who made a study of his fellow Umbrian, seems to have distinguished between one Plautus and one Titus Maccius. Tradition has it that Plautus was associated with the theatre from a young age. An early story says that he lost the profits made from his early success as a playwright in an unsuccessful business venture, and that for a while afterward he was obliged to earn a living by working in a grain mill.
Approach to drama
The Roman predecessors of Plautus in both tragedy and comedy borrowed most of their plots and all of their dramatic techniques from Greece. Even when handling themes taken from Roman life or legend, they presented these in Greek forms, setting, and dress. Plautus, like them, took the bulk of his plots, if not all of them, from plays written by Greek authors of the late 4th and early 3rd centuries bc (who represented the “New Comedy,” as it was called), notably by Menander and Philemon. Plautus did not, however, borrow slavishly; although the life represented in his plays is superficially Greek, the flavour is Roman, and Plautus incorporated into his adaptations Roman concepts, terms, and usages. He referred to towns in Italy; to the gates, streets, and markets of Rome; to Roman laws and the business of the Roman law courts; to Roman magistrates and their duties; and to such Roman institutions as the Senate.
Not all references, however, were Romanized: Plautus apparently set little store by consistency, despite the fact that some of the Greek allusions that were left may have been unintelligible to his audiences. Terence, the more studied and polished playwright, mentions Plautus’ carelessness as a translator and upbraids him for omitting an entire scene from one of his adaptations from the Greek (though there is no criticism of him for borrowing material, such plagiarism being then regarded as wholly commendable). Plautus allowed himself many other liberties in adapting his material, even combining scenes from two Greek originals into one Latin play (a procedure known as contaminatio).
Even more important was Plautus’ approach to the language in which he wrote. His action was lively and slapstick, and he was able to marry the action to the word. In his hands, Latin became racy and colloquial, verse varied and choral.
Whether these new characteristics derived from now lost Greek originals—more vigorous than those of Menander—or whether they stemmed from the established forms and tastes of burlesque traditions native to Italy, cannot be determined with any certainty. The latter is the more likely. The result, at any rate, is that Plautus’ plays read like originals rather than adaptations, such is his witty command of the Latin tongue—a gift admired by Cicero himself. It has often been said that Plautus’ Latin is crude and “vulgar,” but it is in fact a literary idiom based upon the language of the Romans in his day.
  The plots of Plautus’ plays are sometimes well organized and interestingly developed, but more often they simply provide a frame for scenes of pure farce, relying heavily on intrigue, mistaken identity, and similar devices. Plautus is a truly popular dramatist, whose comic effect springs from exaggeration, burlesque and often coarse humour, rapid action, and a deliberately upside-down portrayal of life, in which slaves give orders to their masters, parents are hoodwinked to the advantage of sons who need money forgirls, and the procurer or braggart soldier is outwitted and fails to secure the seduction or possession of the desired girls. Plautus, however, did also recognize the virtue of honesty (as in Bacchides), of loyalty (as in Captivi), and of nobility of character (as in the heroine of Amphitruo).
Plautus’ plays, almost the earliest literary works in Latin that have survived, are written in verse, as were the Greek originals. The metres he used included the iambic six foot line (senarius) and the trochaic seven foot line (septenarius), which Menander had also employed. But Plautus varied these with longer iambic and trochaic lines and more elaborate rhythms. The metres are skillfully chosen and handled to emphasize the mood of the speaker or the action. Again, it is possible that now lost Greek plays inspired this metrical variety and inventiveness, but it is much more likely that Plautus was responding to features already existing in popular Italian dramatic traditions. The Senarii (conversational lines) were spoken, but the rest was sung or chanted to the accompaniment of double and fingered reed pipes (see aulos). It could indeed be said that, in their metrical and musical liveliness, performances of Plautus’ plays somewhat resembled musicals of the mid-20th century.
Although Plautus’ original texts did not survive, some version of 21 of them did. Even by the time that Roman scholars such as Varro, a contemporary of Cicero, became interested in the playwright, only acting editions of his plays remained. These had been adapted, modified, cut, expanded, and generally brought up-to-date for production purposes. Critics and scholars have ever since attempted to establish a “Plautine” text, but 20th- and 21st-century editors have admitted the impossibility of successfully accomplishing such a task. The plays had an active stage life at least until the time of Cicero and were occasionally performed afterward. Whereas Cicero had praised their language, the poet Horace was a more severe critic and considered the plays to lack polish.
There was renewed scholarly and literary interest in Plautus during the 2nd century ad, but it is unlikely that this was accompanied by a stage revival, though a performance of Casina is reported to have been given in the early 4th century.

St. Jerome, toward the end of that century, says that after a night of excessive penance he would read Plautus as a relaxation; in the mid-5th century, Sidonius Apollinaris, a Gallic bishop who was also a poet, found time to read the plays and praise the playwright amid the alarms of the barbarian invasions.

During the Middle Ages, Plautus was little read—if at all—in contrast to the popular Terence. By the mid-14th century, however, the Humanist scholar and poet Petrarch knew eight of the comedies. As the remainder came to light, Plautus began to influence European domestic comedy after the Renaissance poet Ariosto had made the first imitations of Plautine comedy in the Italian vernacular.
  His influence was perhaps to be seen at its most sophisticated in the comedies of Molière (whose play L’Avare, for instance, was based on Aulularia), and it can be traced up to the present day in such adaptations as Jean Giraudoux’s Amphitryon 38 (1929), Cole Porter’s musical Out of This World (1950), and the musical and motion picture A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963). Plautus’ stock character “types” have similarly had a long line of successors: the braggart soldier of Miles Gloriosus, for example, became the “Capitano” of the Italian commedia dell’arte, is recognizable in Nicholas Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister (16th century), in Shakespeare’s Pistol, and even in his Falstaff, in Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), and in Bernard Shaw’s Sergius in Arms and the Man (1894), while a trace of the character perhaps remains in Bertolt Brecht’s Eilif in Mother Courage and Her Children (1941). Thus, Plautus, in adapting Greek “New Comedy” to Roman conditions and taste, also significantly affected the course of the European theatre.
    Lucius Livius Andronicus

Lucius Livius Andronicus, (born c. 284 bc, Tarentum, Magna Graecia [now Taranto, Italy]—died c. 204 bc, Rome?), founder of Roman epic poetry and drama.

He was a Greek slave, freed by a member of the Livian family; he may have been captured as a boy when Tarentum surrendered to Rome in 272 bc. A freedman, he earned his living teaching Latin and Greek in Rome.

  His main work, the Odyssia, a translation of Homer’s Odyssey, was possibly done for use as a schoolbook. Written in rude Italian Saturnian metre, it had little poetic merit, to judge from the less than 50 surviving lines and from the comments of Cicero (Brutus) and Horace (Epistles); according to Horace, 1st-century-bc schoolboys studied the work. It was, however, the first major poem in Latin, the first example of artistic translation, and the subject matter happily chosen for introducing Roman youth to the Greek world. Livius was the first literary figure to give Odysseus his Latin name, Ulysses (or Ulixes).
In 240, as part of the Ludi Romani (the annual games honouring Jupiter), Livius produced a translation of a Greek play, probably a tragedy, and perhaps also a comedy. After this, the first dramatic performance ever given in Rome, he continued to write, stage, and sometimes perform in both tragedies and comedies, after 235 in rivalry with Gnaeus Naevius. Only one fragment is known from each of his three remaining comedies; fewer than 40 lines of the 10 tragedies have survived. Their titles show that he translated mainly the three great tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.
In 207, to ward off menacing omens, he was commissioned to compose an intercessory hymn to be sung, in procession, to Aventine Juno. As a reward for the success of this intervention, a guild of poets and actors, of which he became president, was granted permission to hold religious services in the temple of Minerva on the Aventine.

Livius Andronicus "The Odyssey"

Translated from Latin to English by David Camden, 1999

Book I


tell me, O muse, about the skillful man
(Od. 1, 1)

our father, son of Saturn . . .
(Od 1, 45)

my daughter, what statement flies up out of your mouth?
(Od. 1, 64)

indeed I have not forgotten you, our Laertes
(Od. 1, 65)

in a silver washbasin, with a golden pitcher
(Od. 1, 136-7)

and you shall openly tell me everything
(Od. 1, 169)

What is this banquet? What holiday is it?
(Od. 1, 225-6)

... very many have come to call upon my mother
(Od. 1, 248)

Book II

when the day comes which Morta had proclaimed.
(Od. 2, 99-100)

either coming to Pylus, or waiting there
(Od. 2, 317)

and then he ordered them to tie the oars with straps
(Od. 2, 422)

Book III

and in that place [fell] the greatest man, the first man- Patroclus
(Od. 3, 110)

Book IV

and let us have the thought of food
(Od. 4, 213)

in part they wander, they cannot return to Greece
(Od. 4, 495)

holy queen, daughter of Saturn
(Od. 4, 513)

at the home of the nymph Calypso, daughter of Atlas
(Od. 4, 557)

    Quintus Ennius

Quintus Ennius, (born 239 bc, Rudiae, southern Italy—died 169 bc), epic poet, dramatist, and satirist, the most influential of the early Latin poets, rightly called the founder of Roman literature. His epic Annales, a narrative poem telling the story of Rome from the wanderings of Aeneas to the poet’s own day, was the national epic until it was eclipsed by Virgil’s Aeneid.

  Because of the place of his birth, Ennius was at home in three languages and had, as he put it, “three hearts”: Oscan, his native tongue; Greek, in which he was educated; and Latin, the language of the army with which he served in the Second Punic War. The elder Cato took him to Rome (204), where he earned a meagre living as a teacher and by adapting Greek plays, but he was on familiar terms with many of the leading men in Rome, among them the elder Scipio. His patron was Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, whom he accompanied on his campaign in Aetolia and whose son Quintus obtained Roman citizenship for Ennius (184 bc). Nothing else of significance is known about his life.
Only 600 lines survive of Ennius’s greatest work, his epic on Roman history, Annales. The poet introduced himself as a reincarnated Homer, addressed the Greek Muses, and composed in dactylic hexameter the metre of Homer. Ennius varied his accounts of military campaigns with autobiography, literary and grammatic erudition, and philosophical speculation.
Ennius excelled in tragedy. Titles survive of 20 tragedies adapted from the Greek, mostly Euripides (e.g., Iphigenia at Aulis, Medea, Telephus, and Thyestes). About 420 lines remain, indicating remarkable freedom from the originals, great skill in adapting the native Latin metres to the Greek framework, heightening the rhetorical element and the pathetic appeal (a feature of Euripides that he greatly admired) through skillful use of alliteration and assonance.
His plays on Roman themes were Sabinae (“Sabine Women”) and, if they really were plays, Ambracia (on the capture of that city in Aetolia by Fulvius) and Scipio.
In the Saturae (Satires) Ennius developed the only literary genre that Rome could call its own. Four books in a variety of metres on diverse subjects, they were mostly concerned with practical wisdom, often driving home a lesson with the help of a fable. More philosophical was a work on the theological and physical theories of Epicharmus, the Sicilian poet and philosopher. Euhemerus, based on the ideas of Euhemerus of Messene, argued that the Olympian gods were originally great men honoured after death in human memory. Some epigrams, on himself and Scipio
  Africanus, are the first Latin elegiac couplets.
Ennius, who is credited also with the introduction of the double spelling of long consonants and the invention of Latin shorthand, was a man of wide interests and was conversant with the intellectual and literary movements of the Hellenistic world. He created and did not fall far short of perfecting a mode of poetic expression that reached its greatest beauty in Virgil and was to remain preeminent in Latin literature.
Cicero and others admired the work of Ennius throughout the republican period. Critical remarks appeared in Horace, becoming more severe in Seneca and Martial. The Neronian epic poet Lucan studied Ennius, and he was still read in the 2nd century ad; by the 5th century ad, copies of Ennius were rare.
    Quintus Ennius

Translated by W. Peter

IKNEW, when I begat him, he must die,
And train’ed him to no other destiny, —
Knew, when I sent him to the Trojan shore,
’Twas not to halls of feats, but fields of gore.


Translated by Moir

YOUR gold I ask not; take your ransoms home;
Warriors, not trafficers in war, we come;
Not gold, but steel, our strife should arbitrate,
And valour prove which is the choice of fate.
The brave, whose lives the battle spar’d, with me
Shall never mourn the loss of liberty.
Unransom’d then your comrades hence remove,
And may the mighty gods the boon approve!.


Translated by Dunlop

HEEDLESS of what a censuring world might say,
One man restor’d the state by wise delay;
Hence time has hallow’d his immortal name,
And, with increasing years, increas’d his fame.


Translated by Wilson

FORTH on the tribune, like a shower,
the gathering javelins spring,
His buckler pierce — or on its boss
the quivering lances ring —
Or rattle on his brazen helm;
but vain the utmost might
Of foes, that press on every side, —
none can the tribune smite.
And many a spear he shivers then,
and many a stroke bestows,
While with many a jet of reeking sweat
his labouring body flows.
No breathing time the tribune has —
no pause — the winded iron,
The Istrian darts, in ceaseless showers,
provoke him and environ:
And lance and sling destruction bring
on many heroes stout,
Who tumble headlong from the wall,
within it, or without.


Translated by Dunlop

FOR no Marsian augur, (whom fools view with awe,)
Nor diviner, nor star-gazer, care I a straw;
The Egyptian quack, an expounder of dreams,
Is neither in science nor art what he seems;
Superstitious and shameless, they prowl through our streets,
Some hungry, some crazy, but all of them cheats.
292 Impostors! who vaunt that to others they’ll show
A path, which themselves neither travel nor know.
Since they promise us wealth if we pay for their pains,
Let them take from that wealth, and bestow what remains


Translated by Dunlop

YES! there are gods; but they no thought bestow
On human deeds, — on mortal bliss or woe, —
Else would such ills our wretched race assail?
Would the Good suffer? — would the Bad prevail?


Translated by Dunlop

WHO know not leisure to employ,
Toil more than those whom toils employ;
For they, who toil with purpos’d mind,
In all their labours pleasure find;
But they, whose time no labours fill,
Have in their minds nor wish nor will.
— So ’tis with us, call’d far form home,
Nor yet to fields of battle come,
We hither march, we thither sail,
Our minds as veering as the gale.


Translated by Dunlop

HIS friend he call’d, — who at his table far’d,
And all his counsels and his converse shar’d;
With whom he oft consum’d the day’s decline
In talk of petty schemes or great design, —
To him with ease and freedom uncontroll’d,
His jests and thoughts, or good or ill, were told;
Whate’er concern’d his fortunes was disclos’d,
And safely in that faithful breast repos’d.
This chosen friend possess’d a stedfast mind,
Where no base purpose could its harbour find;
Mild, courteous, learn’d, with knowledge blest and sense.
A soul serene, contentment, eloquence;
Fluent in words or sparing, well he knew
All things to speak in place and season due;
His mind was amply graced with ancient lore,
Nor less enrich’d with modern wisdom’s store:
Him, while the tide of battle onward press’d
Servilius call’d. . . . . . . . .

    Gnaeus Naevius

Gnaeus Naevius, (born c. 270 bc, Capua, Campania [Italy]—died c. 200 bc, Utica [now in Tunisia]), second of a triad of early Latin epic poets and dramatists, between Livius Andronicus and Ennius. He was the originator of historical plays (fabulae praetextae) that were based on Roman historical or legendary figures and events. The titles of two praetextae are known, Romulus and Clastidium, the latter celebrating the victory of Marcus Claudius Marcellus in 222 and probably produced at his funeral games in 208.

    During 30 years of competition with Livius, Naevius produced half a dozen tragedies and more than 30 comedies, many of which are known only by their titles. Some were translated from Greek plays, and, in adapting them, he created the Latin fabula palliata (from pallium, a type of Greek cloak), perhaps being the first to introduce song and recitative, transferring elements from one play into another, and adding variety to the metre. He incorporated his own critical remarks on Roman daily life and politics, the latter leading to his imprisonment and perhaps exile. Many of the comedies used the stereotypes of character and plot and the apt and colourful language that would later be characteristic of Plautus. Tarentilla, one of his most famous plays, clearly foreshadows the Plautine formula with its vivid portrayal of Roman lowlife, intrigue, and love relationships.
Naevius chronicled the events of the First Punic War (264–261) in his Bellum Poenicum, relying for facts upon his own experience in the war and on oral tradition at Rome. The scope of the tale and the forceful diction qualify it as an epic, showing a marked advance in originality beyond the Odusia of Livius and making it a probable influence upon the Annales of Ennius and on Virgil’s Aeneid.
1 Greek theater in Syracuse
2 Forum Romanum
3 The Roman theater of Leptis Magna, Libya
    400-201 BC

Trumpet-playing competitions in Greece

Aristotle lays the foundations of musical theory с. -340

Aristoxenus defines rhythm as tripartite: speech, melody, movement (c. -320)

Aristoxenus, (flourished 4th century bc), Greek Peripatetic philosopher, the first authority for musical theory in the classical world.


Aristoxenus by Raphael
  Aristoxenus was born at Tarentum (now Taranto) in southern Italy and studied in Athens under Aristotle and Theophrastus. He was interested in ethics as well as in music and wrote much, but most of his work is lost. Apart from his musical treatises, fragments remain of his reconstruction of the old Pythagorean ethics as well as of his biographies of Pythagoras, Archytas, Socrates, and Plato.

His theory that the soul is related to the body as harmony is to the parts of a musical instrument seems to follow early Pythagorean doctrine. In musical theory, Aristoxenus held that the notes of the scale should not be judged by mathematical ratio but by the ear. His remaining musical treatises include parts of his Elements of Harmonics (edited by P. Marquard, 1868, and by H. Macran, 1902) and of his Elements of Rhythm (edited by R. Westphal, 1861 and 1893) that are extant.

The fragments of his other works were edited by F. Wehrli in Aristoxenos, being part 2 of Wehrli’s Die Schule des Aristoteles; Texte und Kommentar (1945; “The School of Aristotle; Text and Commentary”).
    Elementa harmonica
In his Elements of Harmony, Aristoxenus attempted a complete and systematic exposition of music. The first book contains an explanation of the genera of Greek music, and also of their species; this is followed by some general definitions of terms, particularly those of sound, interval, and system. In the second book Aristoxenus divides music into seven parts, which he takes to be: the genera, intervals, sounds, systems, tones or modes, mutations, and melopoeia. The remainder of the work is taken up with a discussion of the many parts of music according to the order which he had himself prescribed.
Aristoxenus rejected the opinion of the Pythagoreans that arithmetic rules were the ultimate judge of intervals and that in every system there must be found a mathematical coincidence before such a system can be said to be harmonic. In his second book he asserted that "by the hearing we judge of the magnitude of an interval, and by the understanding we consider its many powers."
  And further he wrote, "that the nature of melody is best discovered by the perception of sense, and is retained by memory; and that there is no other way of arriving at the knowledge of music;" and though, he wrote, "others affirm that it is by the study of instruments that we attain this knowledge;" this, he wrote, is talking wildly, "for just as it is not necessary for him who writes an Iambic to attend to the arithmetical proportions of the feet of which it is composed, so it is not necessary for him who writes a Phrygian song to attend to the ratios of the sounds proper thereto."

Thus the nature of Aristoxenus' scales and genera deviated sharply from his predecessors. Aristoxenus introduced a radically different model for creating scales. Instead of using discrete ratios to place intervals, he used continuously variable quantities. Hence the structuring of his tetrachords and the resulting scales have other qualities of consonance.