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15S

COMISSATIO——COMITIA.

constructed like that of tragedy, charac­terized by fine humour, and but seldom touching on public life. The language was that of ordinary society, and the plot was worked out in a connected form from the beginning to the denouement. The chief art of the poets of the New Comedy lay in the development of the plot and the faith­ful portraiture of character. The stock subjects are illicit love affairs; for honest women lived in retirement, and stories of honourable love, therefore, were practically excluded from the stage. The ordinary characters are young men in love, fathers of the good-natured or the scolding type, cunning slaves, panders, parasites, and brag­ging officers. Besides the dialogue proper, sve find traces of parts written in lyric metres for the higher style of singing. These were, in all probability, like the dia­logue, performed by the actors.

The fate of the New resembles that of the Middle Comedy, only a few fragments of its numerous pieces having survived. Of some of them, however, \ve have Latin adaptations by Plautus and Terence. Its greatest master was Menancler, besides whom should be mentioned Diphilus, Phile­mon, Philippides, Posldippus, and Apollo-dorus of Carystus. The New Comedy nourished from 330 b.c. till far into the 3rd century A.D.

In about 300 B,c. the old Dorian farce was revived in a literary form in Southern Italy by Rhinthon, the creator of the Hil&rotragcedia. The Hilarotragcedia was for the most part a parody of the tragic stories.

(2) Roman. Like the Greeks, the Italian people had their popular dramatic pieces; the versus Fescennlni, for instance, which were at first associated with the mimic drama, first introduced in 390 B.C. from Etruria in consequence of a plague, to appease the wrath of heaven (see fescen- ' nini versds). From this combination i sprang the sdt&ra, a performance consisting . of flute-playing, mimic dance, songs, and dialogue. The Atellana (q.v.) was a second species of popular Italian comedy, dis­tinguished from others by having certain fixed or stock characters. The creator of the regular Italian comedy and tragedy was a Greek named Livius Andronlcus, about 240 B.C. Like the Italian tragedy, the Italian comedy was, in form and con­tents, an imitation, executed with more or less freedom, of the Greek. It was the New Greek Comedy which the Romans took as

their model. This comedy, which repre­sents scenes frori Greek life, was called palliata, after the Greek pallium, or cloak. The dramatic satura, and the Atellanar which afterwards supplanted the satura as a concluding farce, continued to exist side by side. The Latin comedy was brought to perfection by Plautus and Terence, the only Roman dramatists from whose hands we still possess complete plays. We should also mention Naevius and Ennius (both of whom wrote tragedies as well as comedies), Csecilius, and Turpilius, with whom, to­wards the end of the 3nd century b.c., this style of composition died out.

About the middle of the 2nd century. b.c. a new kind of comedy, the togata, (from tdga) made its appearance. The form of it was still Greek, but the life and the characters Italian. The togata was re­presented by Titinius, Atta, and Afranius, who was accounted the master in this kind of writing. At the beginning of the 1st century b.c. the Atellana assumed an artistic form in the hands of Pomponius and Novius; and some fifty years later the mimus, also an old form of popular farce, was similarly handled by Laberius and Publilius Syrus. The mimus drove all the other varieties of comedy from the field, and held its ground until late in the im­perial period.

The Roman comedy, like its model, the New Comedy of the Greeks, had no chorus, the intervals being filled up by perfor­mances on the flute. The play consisted, like the Roman tragedy, partly of passages of spoken dialogue in iambic trimeters, partly of musical scenes called cantica. (See canticum.) Comissatlo. See meals. Comitia. The popular assemblies of the Romans, summoned and presided over by a mdgistratus. In the comitia the Roman people appeared as distributed into its political sections, for the purpose of de­ciding, in the exercise of its sovereign rights, upon the business brought before it by the presiding magistrate. The comitia must be distinguished from the conHones. The contiones were also summoned and presided over by a magistrate, but they did not assemble in their divisions, and they had nothing to .do but to receive the commu­nications of the magistrate. In all its assemblies at Rome, the people remained standing. The original place of meeting was the cOmUmm, a part of the forum. There were three kinds of comitia, viz.:

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