ENNIUS (239-169 B.C.)

This article was originally published in A Short History of the Drama. Martha Fletcher Bellinger. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927. p. 80.

ENNIUS (239-169 B.C.), called the "Father of Roman poetry," was only an additional power in behalf of the Greeks. In his youth he probably saw tragedies performed in Magna Graecia, and therefore was able to bring into Rome Athenian methods of production. He stands out as a manly, vigorous figure, an energetic and industrious scholar. At the same time it was surely he, more than any one else, who at the critical moment confirmed the taste of the Romans for their imported models. Largely through the work of Cicero, there are preserved a number of fragments and the titles of a score of tragedies from the hand of Ennius; and more than half of the plays are obviously based upon the Homeric fables. From this time, Latin drama wears the Greek dress without shame or apology.

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