Lucius Accius Analysis

Life

Lucius Accius (LEW-shee-uhs AK-shee-uhs) was born to manumitted parents and came to Rome at an unknown date. He stated that he presented a play when he was thirty years old; whether the play was his first is uncertain. Accius is reported to have refused to rise in recognition of the rank of Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo, also a writer of tragedy, because of his own superiority in the writing of tragedy. Accius is also said to have had a statue of himself placed in the temple of the Camenae and was ridiculed because the statue was so large in comparison to the rather short poet. Statesman and philosopher Cicero stated that he himself had talked to the old poet.

Influence

Accius wrote in a variety of genres: history, mythography and theology, agriculture, and love. More than seven hundred lines and more than forty titles of tragedies and praetextae (serious Roman historical drama) are assigned to him, representing the Trojan cycle principally, but including the Theban cycle and various other legendary subjects, many of which he introduced to the Roman audience. Although more verses of Accian tragedy have survived than those of any other Roman tragedian, few long passages exist; most are brief quotations preserved by grammarians for some peculiarity of language. Accius was the last major poet of the golden age of Roman drama.

Additional Resources

Warmington, E. H. Remains of Old Latin. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Wender, Dorothea. Roman Poetry. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991.