Gnaeus Naevius (NEE-uhs NEE-vee-uhs) is believed to have been of Campanian, perhaps specifically of Capuan, origin. He is reported to have participated in the First Punic War and so may have served among the Campanian socii (non-Roman nationalities who were allies of the Romans) in the war and taken up residence in Rome at the war’s end. At some time during his life, Naevius was imprisoned for attacks on prominent citizens. After his release from prison, he left Rome and died at Utica in North Africa.
He presented his first plays, principally based on Greek models, in 235 b.c.e. He wrote comedy, tragedy, and epics. He invented a new serious dramatic form based on Roman themes, the praetexta. He wrote an epic on the First Punic War in the native Saturnian meter rather than in the Greek hexameter.