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(2) Roman. The Romans probably had songs of an epic character from the earliest times; but these were soon forgotten. They had, however, a certain influence on the later and comparatively artificial literature, for both Livius Andrfinlcus in his translation of the Odyssey, and Nsevius in his Punic War, wrote in the traditional Italian metre, the versus Saturnius. Naevius was, it is true, a national poet, and so was his successor Ennius, but the latter employed the Greek hexameter metre, instead of the rude Saturnian. To follow the example of Ennius, and celebrate the achievements of their countrymen in the form of the Greek epic, was the ambition of several poets before the fall of the Republic. A succession of poets, as Hostius, the tragedian Accius, and Furius were the authors of poetical annals. In this connexion we should also mention Cicero's epics on Marius and on his own consulship, besides the poem of Terentius Varro of Atax (Atdclnus) on Caesar's war with the SSquani (Bellum Slqudnicum). Latin epics on Greek mythical subjects seem to have been rare in the republican age. At least we know of only a few translations, as that of the Iliad by Mattius and Ninnius Crassus, and of the Cypria by Lsevinus. Towards the end of the republican age it was a favourite form of literary activity to write in free imitation of the learned Alexandrians. Varro of Atax, for example, followed Apollonius of Rhodes in his ArgOnautlca ; others, like Helvius Cinna and the orator Licinius Calvus, preferred the shorter epics so much in favour with the Alexandrians. Only one example in this style is completely preserved, The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis, by Catullus. This is the only example we possess of the narrative epic of the republic.
But in the Augustan age both kinds of epic, the mythic and the historical, are represented by a number of poets. Varius Rufus, Rabirius, Cornelius Severus, and Albino-vanus Ped5, treated contemporary history in _the epic style: DomTtius Marsus and Macer turned their attention to the mythology. The .ffiueid of Vergil, the noblest monument of Roman epic poetry, combines both characters. Of all the epic productions of this age, the only ones which are
In the 1st century a.d. we have several examples of the historical epic: the Fhar-salia of Lucan, the PflnJca of Silius Italicus, a Bellum CivilS in the satirical romance of Petronius, and an anonymous panegyric on Calpurnius Piso, who was executed for conspiracy under Nero, A.D. 65. The heroic style is represented by the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, and the Thebaid and AchilUid of Statius, to which we may add the metrical epitome of the Iliad by the so-called Pindarus Thebanus. The politico-historical poems of the succeeding centuries, by Publlus Porfirlus Optatlanus in the 4th century, Claudian, Merobaudes, Sidonius Apolllnaris in the 5th, Priscian, Corippus, and Venantius Fortunatus in the 6th, are entirely panegyric in character, and intended to do homage to the emperor or men of influence. Of all these poets, Claudian is the most considerable. He and Dracontius (towards the end of the 5th century) are among the last who take their subjects from mythology.
Didactic poetry, which suited the sober character of the Romans, was early represented at Rome. Here the Romans were in many ways superior to the Greeks. Appius Claudius Caecus and the elder Cato were the authors of gnomic poetry. Ennius, the tragedian Accius, and several of his contemporaries, wrote didactic pieces; the satires of Lucilius and Varro were also in part didactic. It was however not till the end of the republican period that the influence of Greek literature gave predominance to the Greek epic form. It was then adopted by Varro of Atax, the orator Cicero, and above all by Lucretius, whose poem De RSrum Natttrd is the only didactic poem of this period that has been preserved intact. In the Augustan age many writers were active in this field. Valgius Rufus and jEmilius Macer followed closely in the steps of the Alexandrians. Grattius wrote a poem on hunting, a part of which still survives; Manilius an astronomical poem which survives entire. But the Georgics of Vergil throws all similar works, Greek or Latin, into the shade. Ovid employs the epic metre in his Metamorphoses and H&lieutlca, the elegiac in his Fasti.
In the 1st century Aj>. Germanlcns