Latin Literature in History

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Latin Literature in History

Greek literature was one of the numerous Greek accomplishments from which Romans drew immense influence. The Romans picked up first on the Greek embrace of rhetoric, which became an educational standard, given that a man's rhetoric, his ability to "push the buttons" of the subject audience by way of speeches, supplemented the man's rise to political power. But as rhetoric began to diminish from Roman daily life following Rome's imperialization, identical persuasive technique began to show itself in Roman literature. But Greek themes were just a backbone in Roman literature, and as time, progressed, Rome established a unique literary style, which, alongside Greek Literature, had a profound influence on the future History of Europe.

One important early innovator is Quintus Ennius. Called the father of Latin poetry, he wrote a number of comedies in Latin as well. In addition, Ennius adapted Greek dramas to the Roman stage, and published a historical epic on Rome from its beginnings to the present (=around 200 BC). His most notable successors, Pacuvius and Accius, would write tragedies that built on previously used Greek themes, but individualized them enough to call the works their own.

More is understood of early Roman comedy than of its drama, due to the amount of its existing copies. Two playwrights in particular dominated early Roman comedy, and those are Plautus and Terence. While Plautus thrived on a rough, slapstick, rowdy, crowd oriented style, Terence's comedy was more refined and domestic. It was Terence's works that most immediately affected the comedic posterity, forming a basis for much humor found in French and British plays of the 1600's and for some modern humor as well.

The writings of Cicero are the most crucial pieces of documentation of that period (80BC-43BC) available. They take the form of letters, rhetoric volumes, orations, and philosophy. They provide not only a vivid account of...
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