the earliest Roman poet, as far as poetical literature is concerned; for whatever popular poetry there may have existed at Rome, its poetical literature begins with this writer. (Quint. Inst. 10.2.7
He was a Greek and probably a native of Tarentum, and was made prisoner by the Romans during their wars in southern Italy.
He then became the slave of M. Livius Salinator, perhaps the same who was consul in B. C. 219, and again in B. C. 207. Andronicus instructed the children of his master, but was afterwards restored to freedom, and received from his patron the Roman name Livius. (Hieron. in Euseb. Chron. ad Ol.
148.) Andronicus is said to have died in B. C. 221, and cannot have lived beyond B. C. 214. (Osann, Anal. Crit.
During his stay at Rome, Andronicus made himself a perfect master of the Latin language, and appears to have exerted himself chiefly in creating a taste for regular dramatic representations. His first drama was acted in B. C. 240, in the consulship of C. Claudius and M. Tuditanus (Cic. Brut. 18
, comp. Tusc. Quaest.
1.1, de Senect.
14; Liv. 7.2
; Gellius, 17.21
); but whether it was a tragedy or a comedy is uncertain.
That he wrote comedies
as well as tragedies
, is attested beyond all doubt. (Diomedes, iii. p. 486; Flavius Vopisc. Numerian,
13; the author of the work de Comoed. et Trag.
) The number of his dramas was considerable, and we still possess the titles and fragments of at least fourteen.
The subjects of them were all Greek, and they were little more than translations or imitations of Greek dramas. (Suet. de Illustr. Grammat.
1; Diomed. l.c.
As to the poetical merit of these compositions we are unable to form an accurate idea, since the extant fragments are few and short.
The language in them appears yet in a rude and undeveloped form, but it has nevertheless a solid basis for further development. Cicero (Cic. Brut. 18
) says, that in his time they were no longer worth reading, and that the 600 mules in the Clytemnestra and the 3000 craters in the Equus Trojanus could not afford any pleasure upon the stage. (ad Fam.
In the time of Horace, the poems of Andronicus were read and explained in schools ; and Horace, although not an admirer of early Roman poetry, says, that he should not like to see the works of Andronicus destroyed. (Hor. Ep. 2.1. 69
Besides his dramas, Livius Andronicus wrote:
1. Latin Odyssey (）
A Latin Odyssey in the Saturnian verse (Cic. Brut. 18
), but it is uncertain whether the poem was an imitation or a mere translation of the Homeric poem.
Hymns (Liv. 27.37
; Fest. s.v. Sribas
), of which no fragments are extant.
The statement of some writers, that he wrote versified Annals, is founded upon a confusion of Livius Andronicus and Ennius. (Vossius, de Hist. Lat.
The fragments of Livius Andronicus are contained in the collections of the fragments of the Roman dramatists mentioned under ACCIUS. The fragments of the Odyssea Latina are collected in H. Düntzer et L. Lersch, de Versu quem vocant Saturnino, pp. 40-48
; all the fragments are contained in Düntzer's Livii Andronici Fragmenta collecta et illustrata, &c. Berlin, 1835, 8vo.
; comp. Osann, Analecta Critica, 100.1