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theatres, (Previous to 391, no ludi, except those which were called circenses, were known.) The histriones merely danced to flute music, as their language was not generally intelligible to the Romans. In a short time, the youth of Rome began to imitate these actors, and introduced the versus Fescennini, so called from an Etrurian city ;-they consisted in aspersions of wit and raillery which they threw out at one another in uncouth verses ; especially during the harvest festivals. To these succeeded satira, so called from lanx satura, i.e. a platter piled up with a portion of every kind of fruit in season, which was offered as primiție, to the gods. The satiræ were made up of a confused medley of verse composition, abounding with acrimony and repartee ; exempt, however, from the obscenity which too often characterised the versus Fescennini. Lucius Livius Andronicus was the first, who passed, from these, to the regular play, of which he afforded a specimen, 512. U. C., a year before the birth of Ennius.
The only specimens, extant, of Roman tragedy, are the pieces ascribed to Seneca. They are distinguished only by the depravity of style to which composition merged, after the time of Augustus. They are replete with bombast and affectation; preserving no impress of Grecian art.
The Romans were a people eminently addicted to imitation. Their regular drama, as well as many other arts, they borrowed from Greece, “Græcia capta ferum victorem cepit," —and can claim no credit on the score of originality, as their best dramatists were little more than translators from the models, which that country supplied. Comedy had attained its third age, before it laid foot on Roman ground. The first, who produced a play at Rome, was the freedman Lucius Livius Andronicus, 510. U.C. two-and-fifty years subsequent to the death of Menander, and about twenty after the first declaration of war against Carthage. The arrival, at this time, of an earnestly expected peace, was a favourable juncture for this kind of relaxation. Livius was succeeded, ten years afterwards, by Nævius; and fifteen years intervened from Nævius to the appearance of Plautus (see note on And. prol. 18.) on the stage; who was followed by Ennius, Statius Cæcilius of Milan, Terence, (three contemporaries,) Afranius, and, a short time after, Pacuvius and Accius. Finally, Lucilius arrived, who rather pursued the system of the middle comedy, and exercised his satiric powers with much success, we are told, upon the writings of the latter two. The Romans made no use of the chorus ;—they merely distinguished the Acts of their plays by a performance on flutes, or tibia,
The fabule are divided into two classes :-1. Togatæ, in which the dresses were Roman. II. Palliatæ, in which they were Grecian ;-so called, because the toga and pallium were the national garbs of the Romans and Greeks respectively. Of the togatæ there are four divisions :-1. Prætextate, where the chief characters represented persons of high rank, and were therefore dressed in the prætexta. 2. Tabernariæ, the characters of which, were taken from humble life. 3. Atellane, consisting of wit and raillery ; so called from the place of their invention, Atella, in the Osci. The principal writers were Novius, Pomponius, Mummius, and Sylla. 4. Pantomimi, invented by Augustus, were representations in dumb show, in which planipedes was a name of the actors, because they wore nothing on the feet but a creeking sandal of wood or iron, called scabilla. Pylades and Bathyllus were celebrated actors in them. Of the palliatæ there are also four species:-1. Tragediæ. 2. Comediæ. 3. Satiri. 4. Mimi, in which there was both speaking and acting. Laberius and Publius Syrus were composers of them, in the time of Cæsar.
From these the pantomimi were derived. Again, of comediæ, the following three kinds are specified :-1. Trabiatæ, invented by Melissus, a grammarian, in which, probably, the characters were of the equestrian order; from the trabea. 2. Rhintonicce, invented by Rhinton. 3. Mixtai, in which the comic and tragic style were mixed.
In a Roman comedy there were four parts :- 1. Prologus, or preface, which, strictly speaking, was not a part of the play itself. 2. Protasis, or the early part of the piece, in which the plot was explained. 3. Epitasis, or the actual intricacies of the plot, as the drama advanced. 4. Catastrophé, or the conclusion of the play; in which all the incidents are wound up, and the difficulties brought to a happy issue.
The first theatres were of a temporary kind, made of wood, and erected anew year after year. The most splendid of this kind was built by M. Æmilius Scaurus, in his ædileship; it was so capacious as to accommodate 80,000 spectators. These structures were of semi-oval form, and open at top, until Lentulus Spinther introduced the use of canvass coverings. Cæsar, when dictator, covered in the whole forum ; and Nero overspread the amphitheatre, by means of ropes, with canvass, which was painted to resemble the sky. The first theatre of stone was reared by Pompey in his second consulship: it contained 40,000.
The cavea of the theatre was the part where the spectators used to sit, and consisted of rows (gradus) of seats, placed one above the other, in a semi-circular form. Also, the rows of seats on the border of the orchestra, which were
assigned to senators and foreign ambassadors, were within the cavea. Here were, besides, præcinctiones, or landings. In the great Roman theatres, there were, between the orchestra rows and the first præcinctio, fourteen rows reserved for the equestrian order and tribunes ;—the rows, between the first and second præcinctio, were the seats of the plebeians ;-above the second præcinctio were porticos made in the wall ; and which encompassed the whole ; here women were directed by Augustus to take their seats. The spaces, between the orchestra and first præcinctio, and between this and the second præcinctio, were divided into cunei, by aditus, or staircases, at right angles with the præcinctios and communicating with them. These divisions were in form like a wedge (cuneus), widening from the orchestra towards the back of the theatre, as they approached the porticos, which formed the widest semicircle.
The aditus, leading from the first to the second præcinctio, were placed intermedi. ately opposite the middle of each cuneus below. The orchestra was a level platform, whereon actors used to dance (ógxelobou), Beyond this, and elevated five feet above it, was the pulpitum, from which actors recited their parts. The line, which separated the orchestra and the pulpitum, was part of the diameter of the semicircle of the theatre; for the theatre was larger than a semicircle.
Beyond the pulpitum was the scena, which was embellished with statues, columns, and various paintings, suited to each play. It was of two kinds, versatilis, which was turned round by machinery, and thus displayed different faces ; and ductilis, which was drawn aside For the concealment of the scenery, a curtain (aulæa) was provided. This, unlike our modern curtains, disclosed the scene by being drawn down ; and intercepted the view by being
This was done by a machine called exostra. The proscenium was between the scena and pulpitum, and on it the actors appeared when they were not reciting. The place behind the scenes was called postscænium, and used for the same purposes as the corresponding part of our theatres.
In various parts of the cavea there were cellæ fixed, containing brazen vessels (vasa ænea), which, acted upon by the voice from the stage, conveyed a musical sweetness to the ear. Lucius Mummius brought several of these to Rome from the Corinthian theatre.
Dramatic pieces were performed at one or other of the following games, which were under the superintendence of the curule ædiles :
1. Ludi Megalenses, in honor of Cybele (psycan phone). At these, the Andrian (588. U. C.),—Hecyra (589. U. C.), -Heautontimoreumenos (591. * U. C.), and Eunuch (593. U. C.),-were represented.
2. Ludi Funebres, at the obsequies of some celebrated man. At these the Adelphi (594. U. C.) was acted.
At these the
3. Ludi Plebeii, for the welfare of the Roman commons. Phormio (593. U. C.) was exhibited.
4. Ludi Apollinares, in honor of Apollo.
The disputed question, concerning the unity of time in the Heautontimoreumenos, will be found efficiently discussed in Dr M'Caul's Treatise on the Terentian Metres; as also the difficulty of explaining the terms tibia—dextræ, sinistra, pares, impares, as found in the titles of Terence's plays. To treat these subjects with due care, would encroach on the limits of the present design; while no farther elucidation could be afforded, than that which the student may find, in the work to which he has been referred.