. A Roman tragedian, born about B.C. 220 at
Brundisium. He is described as being the son of Ennius's sister, and pupil of the poet (Euseb.
156, 3; Cic. Brut. 64
He spent most of his life at Rome, where he gained his livelihood as a dramatic poet and as a
painter. In his old age he returned to Lower Italy, and died there, at the age of ninety,
about B.C. 130 (Gell. i. 24
). He is the first Roman dramatist who
confined himself to the composition of tragedies. Titles and fragments of some thirteen of his
imitations of Greek plays are preserved, as well as fragments of a fabula
, whose hero was probably the victor of Pydna,
Aemilius Paulus. If this small number justifies any opinion on his poetical activity, he was
far less productive than his predecessor Ennius and his successor Attius. Nevertheless, he and
Attius were considered the most important tragedians of Rome. In the judgment of literary
critics, who followed the traditions of the Ciceronian Age, he was preferred to Attius for
finish and learning, but Attius excelled him in fire and natural power (Epist.
ii. 1, 55, 56; Quint.x. 1, 97
His style was praised for its copiousness, dignity, and stateliness, though Cicero
, 258) declines to give him credit for pure and genuine Latinity. Even
in Cicero's time, however, the revival of his plays was often welcomed by Roman audiences, and
for his dignity and command of language he was often styled doctus.
Pacuvius was also successful in his painting, and one of his works in the temple of Hercules
in the Forum Boarium was greatly admired (Gell. xiii.2.2
The dramatic fragments of Pacuvius are edited by Ribbeck (Leipzig, 1871)
. See a
paper by Prof. Nettleship in the (English) Journal of Philology
, xviii. 263
foll.; and Mommsen, Hist. of Rome
, iii. p. 536 (American ed.).