- The Romans borrowed their forms and models of literary work from the Greeks.
- But gradually the Roman authors implanted their own beliefs and character into their works.
- The first literary form to reach significant development among the Romans was drama.
- Roman drama, patterned after the New Comedy of the Hellenistic Era, was light, entertaining, often humorous, and sometimes satirical.
- The most noted Roman dramatists were Plautus (184 BC.) and Terence (159 BC.).
- Plautus' plays were filled with slap-stick energy and farcical situations needed to keep the attention of a Roman audience.
- Terence wrote for a more cultured age and was therefore more contemplative than Plautus.
- The father upset with the actions of the younger generation, is still found in modern drama.
- (Image) the father is rushing out of his mansion with a stick as his son has just come home from a party, accompanied by a girl playing the flute and his slave half supporting him, half hiding behind him.
- The greatest work of Roman literature was Virgil's (19 BC.)
- Aeneid. This is an epic poem telling of the wanderings of the mythical Aeneas, a refugee from Troy who eventually settled in Italy and founded the Latin civilization. He wrote the poem to celebrate the greatness of Rome and the Emperor Augustus.
- (Image) Virgil is shown reading a section of the Aeneid, while the muses of Epic and Tragedy listen.
- The greatest writer of Lyric poetry was Horace.
- His works include Satires, Odes, Letters and the Art of Poetry.
- The beautiful Odes were written in diverse moods, and on various themes: love, wine, the good life, courage, simple pleasures, and the shortness of life.
- His poetry could be passionate and polite, cynical and romantic, sensuous and sophisticated.
- Another Roman poet who enjoyed a wide audience was Ovid (17 AD.).
- Ovid wrote worldly love poetry that reflected the customs of the smart metropolitan society of his day.
- He was also an excellent story teller.
- Another highly developed literary form in Rome was the writing of history.
- Livy, Tacitus, and Suetonius were among the best of the Roman historians.
- They wrote to inspire and instruct future generations of Romans and to spread the idea that the mission of Rome was to lead less fortunate people to culture and civilization.
- Livy's "History of Rome" was written to glorify ancient Rome and the heroes of the Punic wars were to serve as models for a younger generation of Romans.
- Suetonius in his book "The Twelve Caesars" wrote informative and interesting biographies of the first emperors of Rome and laid the foundation for all succeeding biographical writing.
- Tacitus was probably the greatest of the Roman historians.
- His major work was the History of Rome from Tiberius to Domitian.
- The theme running throughout his work is that man can survive all types of evils and degregations and rise to heights of heroism.
- The history of Tacitus is the earliest account available of this period of history.
- The Romans also enjoyed reading political satires.
- Juvenal and Petronius were the best writers of satire produced in the Roman world.
- In his work called "Satires", Juvenal describes the weaknesses of contemporary society, using such targets as aggressive women, the military, and the influence of Greeks in Roman life.
- Petronius, in the "Satyricon", describes Roman society at the time of Nero and gives an excellent portrayal of a completely amoral pleasure-seeking society.© 1995-1996 The Bible Knowledge Accelerator ( Registered )