Naevius : Fragments of Poems

Naevius was one of the earliest Latin poets; he wrote towards the end of the 3rd century B.C. - for more information about him, see the Life of Naevius below. He wrote in a variety of different forms, including comedies, tragedies, and an epic poem about the First Punic War. Only fragments have survived of the poems - usually preserved by grammarians who were interested in his verses as specimens of early Latin.

A selection of the surviving fragments is presented here; all the fragments of his tragedies, and the shorter fragments of his comedies, have been omitted. For each fragment, the Latin text is shown followed by the English translation. The translation is by E.H.Warmington (1936).



From the introduction to the translation, by E.H.Warmington

We have enough scraps of information and enough fragments to reveal in Naevius a true Latin poet who was a Roman citizen, enjoyed more independence of living than Livius Andronicus did, and was endowed with a truly national spirit. He was born about 270 B.C., and belonged to a plebeian gens whose name is frequent in Latin records; he was thus at least a Latin and probably a true Roman, though some believe that he was born in Campania, because Gellius speaks of Naevius' epitaph as full of 'Campanian haughtiness.' But Campanian arrogance had become proverbial, and so could be used of any one, whether Campanian or not.

Naevius served as a soldier in the first Punic War (264-241 B.C.), and when he was about forty-five years old began to produce plays in Rome, in 235 B.C. There is no evidence that he ever became an actor; his dramatic career therefore would be independent of the actor's profession. He showed a preference for comedies, which were mostly fabulae palliatae modelled upon Greek sources, though some were togatae, the subject-matter of these being Roman or Italian, not Greek. Soon after 222 B.C. he invented a new kind of play - the fabula praetexta or historical Roman play - by composing one (Clastidium) which dealt with the victory won at Clastidium by M. Marcellus in 222 B.C.; another one, Romulus, perhaps followed soon afterwards. This kind of play, though it was attempted by successors of Naevius, never became popular. For palliatae Naevius was especially famous, being by some critics placed third in order of merit among comic poets; some of the palliatae have Latin titles, which may indicate plays composed later than those which have Greek titles. He sometimes practised contaminatio or fusion of two Greek plays into one Latin. In his togatae, and possibly also in his palliatae (thus deviating widely from the Greek originals), Naevius boldly and pointedly attacked famous statesmen living in Rome : some of his attacks were possibly made in a Satura, but this could well be the title of a single comedy. Even the great Scipio Africanus suffered from the poet's rancour. Further, the gens of the Caecilii Metelli was so greatly irritated by Naevius that in 206 Q. Caecilius Metellus threatened retaliation upon him. In the end, 'because of constant insults and jibes uttered against leading men of the state in the manner of Greek poets' (sc. of the 'Old Comedy'), he was thrown into prison at Rome by the triumviri capitales. There he called forth the sympathy of his fellow-playwright Plautus. While he was in prison Naevius wrote two plays, Ariolus and Leon, in which he apologised for his misdoings and 'petulantia' which had hurt so many people. He was then set free by the tribunes of the plebs. But either he resumed his attacks or his old enemies were unforgiving, because he was almost at once, through the activities of the nobles, and especially the Metelli, exiled from Rome and Italy. He went to Utica in northern Africa, doubtless after the end of the siege of that place by Scipio in 202, and soon afterwards died there, in 201, according to Jerome, though he may have died a year or two later than this.

One of Naevius' most important achievements - indeed perhaps the most important if not the most poetic - has not been mentioned yet. This is the Punic War, that is to say an epic poem on the first Punic War, in which he had served. It was published and apparently also composed by Naevius in his old age, and his strong national spirit caused him to use the old native Saturnian metre. The result was prosy, and it may be that it had been begun soon after 240 B.C, and was continued and completed at intervals. The work was important because though it was not the first epic poem written in Latin, it was the first national or really Roman epic. Herein Naevius traced the legendary origins of Rome and Carthage, bringing in stories of heroes and gods, and putting into Latin verse the already accepted but fictitious connexion between Rome and Troy. The influence of the poem on Ennius and Vergilius was undoubtedly great. Written by Naevius as one uninterrupted whole, it was divided into seven books by C. Octavius Lampadio c. 165 B.C. Other commentators also worked upon it. Admiration felt for it by the Romans is doubtless due largely to the fact that it was their own first epic about themselves, dealing with a terrible war which had a victorious ending for Rome. However, the defects of the poem were not ignored. It pleased Cicero as might a work of the sculptor Myron, and he admits that, splendidly as Naevius had acquitted himself, Ennius wrote more polished epic poetry.



The sack of Troy; the escape of Aeneas to Italy; the foundation of Rome by Romulus?

[1] Prologue. First line of the poem; invocation of the Muses :

CAESIUS BASSUS : As is clear, truth to tell, our archaic poets used this Saturnian metre without observing a fixed law or maintaining a single type. ... In passages of Naevius ... I have found the following to be suitable (as examples) -
| Novem Iovis Concordes filiae sorores,
You daughters nine of Jupiter, harmonious sisters,

Naevius himself took part in the first Punic War :

GELLIUS : Naevius, according to a statement of Marcus Varro . . . served as a soldier in the first Punic War and asserts that very fact himself in the Song which he wrote on that war.

[2-4] The foundation of Rome by Trojans or by their descendants. The omen that appeared to Anchises before the fall of Troy :

PROBUS : Ennius takes Anchises as being endowed with certain powers of augury, and, through these, of inspiration . . . Naevius in the first book of The Punic War -
| Postquam avem aspexit in templo Anchisa,
| sacra in mensa Penatium ordine ponuntur;
| immolabat auream victimam pulchram.
After Anchises had seen a bird within the range of view, hallowed offerings were set in a row on the table of the Household Gods : and he busied himself in sacrificing a beautiful golden victim.

[5-7] Aeneas and Anchises with their wives leave the city of Troy :

SERVIUS supplemented on 'When weeping I forsake my country's shores,' in Vergilius : Our poet loves to reproduce the very words of his authority, with some partial change of phrase or change of persons. Thus Naevius introduces, in the following words, the wives of Aeneas and Anchises in tears as they leave Troy for ever -
| Amboruni uxores
| noctu Troiad exibant capitibus opertis,
| flentes ambae abeuntes lacrimis cum multis.
The wives of both were passing out from Troy by night; their heads were veiled, and both were weeping many tears, as they went away.

[8-10] and many followers go with them :

SERVIUS supplemented, on 'I marvelling find' in Vergilius : Naevius in the first book of The Punic War has the following on Anchises and Aeneas in flight : -
| Eorum sectam sequuntur multi mortales.
| Multi alii e Troia strenui viri . . .
| Ubi foras cum auro illic exibant,
Their path many mortals follow. Many other dashing heroes ... When they forthwith were passing outdoors there with the gold,

[11] Precious chattels rescued from the flames of Troy :

ISIDORE : 'Citrosa.' Curled as it were so as to resemble citrus-wood. Naevius -
| puram pulchramque ex auro vestem citrosam.
and clothing clean and lovely, spun from gold and citrus-scented.


MARIUS VICTORINUS : In a passage of Naevius we have -
| Ferunt pulchras creterras, aureas lepistas.
They carry beautiful bowls and golden goblets.

Aeneas' ship :

SERVIUS supplemented : Naevius in The Punic War says that Aeneas had one ship which Mercury built.

[13-15] Anchises embarks from Troy :

PRISCIANUS : I have found 'marum' for 'marium' (a form of genitive which is, however, rarely used) in a passage of Naevius in The Song of the Punic War -
| Senex fretus pietatei turn adlocutus summi
| deum regis fratrem Neptunum regnatorem
| marum
Then the old man, stayed strong in piety, called on the ruler of the seas, Neptune, brother of the all-highest monarch of the gods.

The storm with which Venus caused Aeolus to vex the Trojans :

SERVIUS supplemented, on Vergilius : The whole of this passage (Aen., I.198 ff.) is taken over from the first book of Naevius' Punic War.

Venus complains to Jupiter, who gives a comforting reply :

MACROBIUS : At the beginning of the Aeneid a tempest is described, and Venus complains. . . . The whole of this passage is taken from Naevius, and comes from the first book of The Punic War. For there in the same way, when the Trojans are labouring in a tempest, Venus complains to Jupiter, and there follow words of Jupiter comforting his daughter with hopes of the future.

[16] Beginning of Venus' appeal :

VARRO : Naevius has -
| Patrem suum supremum optumum adpellat
She thus calls on her father, the all-highest and good
where 'supremum' is derived from 'superrumus.'


FESTUS : 'Quianam' is put for 'quare' or 'cur' in the works of archaic writers; for example, in a passage of Naevius in The Song of the Punic War -
| Summe deum regnator, quianam me genuisti?
Greatest ruler of the gods, why, pray, did you beget me?

Aeneas consults the Sibyl in a valley between Baiae and Cumae :

LACTANTIUS : Varro . . . says . . . that the fourth Sibyl is the 'Cimmerian' in Italy, who is mentioned by name by Naevius in his books of The Punic War.

The Sibyl orders Aeneas to bury a kinswoman of his in the island Procida, which is named after her :

SERVIUS supplemented, on 'trembles high Prochyta' in Vergilius : Naevius says that this island (Procida) took its name from a kinswoman of Aeneas.

[18] Rude tribes of Italy :

MACROBIUS : 'Wood-haunting Fauns.' Naevius in the first book of The Punic War -
| . . . silvicolae homines bellique inertes
wood-haunting folk, unskilled in war

[19-20] The wanderers in Latium; King Latinus addresses Aeneas :

NONIUS : 'Perconta ' . . . -
| Blande et docte percontat Aeneas quo pacto
| Troiam urbem liquisset.
With charm and shrewdness asked he earnestly how Aeneas forsook the city Troy.

Ilia gives birth to Romulus :

SERVIUS supplemented : Naevius and Ennius record that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was Aeneas' grandson through Aeneas' daughter.

[21-2] Amulius rejoices at the preservation of Romulus and Remus :

NONIUS : 'Gratulari,' the same as 'gratias agere.' ... -
| manusque susum ad caelum sustulit suas rex
| Amulius divisque gratulatur.
And King Amulius raised his hands aloft towards the sky, and thanked the gods.


Romulus, before founding his city, takes the auspices from the Aventine :

VARRO : Several causes are given for the name Aventine. Naevius derives it from ' aves,' giving as reason that thither birds betook themselves from the Tiber.

Rome is founded on the Palatine :

Varro : : 'Palatium.' . . . Some think that this same place is derived from the ways of flocks; and so Naevius calls it 'Balatium,' The Place of Bleaters.

[23] The Institutions of Romulus (or of Numa Pompilius) :

NONIUS : 'Castitas' and 'castimonia.' ... A masculine form ... in Naevius in The Song of the Punic War -
| Res divas edicit, praedicit castas.
He makes declaration of sacred ordinances, and proclaims the rules of holy chastity.


[24] A procession of gods :

PRISCIANUS : 'Puerus' as a nom. sing. masc. and 'puer' as a nom. sing, both fem. and masc. ... -
| Prima incedit Cereris Proserpina puer,
First comes Proserpina, a child of Ceres,


MACROBIUS, quoting Vergilius : ' Whom the grateful archer-god.' This epithet was used by Naevius in the second book of The Punic War -
| dein pollens sagittis inclutus arquitenens
| sanctusque Delphis prognatus Pythius Apollo.
and then his son Pythian Apollo, the renowned archer mighty in his arrows, the god who is hallowed at Delphi.


The first Punic War, perhaps as far as the capture of Agrigentum, 262 B.C.

[27] Declaration of war against Carthage, 264 B.C.

PAULUS : 'Sagmina' was a term once used for the herbs 'verbenae', because they were fetched from a 'sanctified' place when ambassadors set out to make a treaty or to declare war. . . . Naevius -
| Scopas atque verbenas sagmina sumpserunt.
To make the holy tufts, they took twigs and sacred foliage.

[28] Inspection of victims :

NONIUS : ' Atrox ' (ugly), raw. Naevius in the third book of The Punic War-
| simul atrocia porricerent exta ministratores.
at the same time the attendants should offer up the ugly vitals.

[29-30] Marcus Valerius Maximus near Messana in Sicily, 262 B.C. :

CHARISIUS : ' Exerciti ' . . . -
| Marcus Valerius consul partem exerciti
| in expeditionem ducit.
Marcus Valerius the consul leads a part of his army on an expedition.


This book described in particular the battles of Mylae (260 B.C.), Tyndaris (257) and Ecnomus (256), and the exploits and fate of Regulus in Africa (256-5).

[31-2] Marcus Atilius Regulus overruns Malta, 256 B.C. :

NONIUS : 'Concinnare,' to complete or collect. Naevius in the fourth book of The Punic War -
| Transit Melitam Romanus insulam integram;
| urit populatur vastat, rem hostium concinnat.
The Roman crosses over to Malta, an island unimpaired; he lays it waste by fire and slaughter, and finishes the affairs of the enemy.

[33] Undecisive warfare :

NONIUS : ' Vicissatim,' the same as ' per vices.' Naevius in the fourth book of The Punic War -
| vicissatim volvi victoriam.
that victory rolls to and fro by turns.

[34-5] A good omen :

NONIUS : 'Auspicavi' for 'auspicatus sum.' ... -
| verum praetor advenit, auspicat auspicium
| prosperum.
but the praetor comes and takes prosperous auspices.

[36] Feast after victory? :

NONIUS : ' Danunt,' the same as ' dant ' , . . -
| eam carnem victoribus danunt.
that flesh they make a gift of to the victors.


Probably described the Battle of Panormus, 250 B.C., the rejection of peace-terms by Rome, and the beginning of the long siege of Lilybaeum in 250; and the defeat of P. Claudius at Drepana in 249 B.C. No fragments of this book have survived.


From the arrival of Hamilcar Barca in Sicily in 248 B.C. to the last year of the war.

[37] By a renewal in 248 B.C. of the treaty of 263, Hiero of Syracuse is allowed to remain independent :

NONIUS : 'Loca' ... in a masculine form. . . . Naevius in the sixth book of The Punic War -
| Convenit regnum simul atque locos ut haberent.
It was agreed that they shall still have their monarchy together with their demesnes.

[38] The year 248 B.C. :

NONIUS : ' Ilico ' means ' in eo loco ' . . . -
| Septimum decimum annum ilico sedent.
They keep the field there for the seventeenth year.

[39] Hamilcar on Mount Eryx (244-3 B.C.) harasses the Romans? :

NONIUS : ' Superbiter ' . . . -
| Superbiter contemtim conterit legiones.
Haughtily and scornfully he wears out the legions.

[40] Operations of the Romans :

NONIUS : 'Censere' means to reckon, to believe ... -
| Censet eo venturum obviam Poenum.
He reckons that the Phoenician will come thither to meet him.


Preparations of C. Lutatius Catulus; victory by sea of Catulus and Falto at the Aegates Islands in 242 B.C. Peace 241 B.C.

[41-3] Provisional peace arranged by Lutatius Catulus and Hamilcar, 241 B.C.

NONIUS : ' Paciscunt.' Naevius in the seventh book of The Punic War -
| Id quoque paciscunt, moenia ut sint quae Lutatium
| reconcilient; captivos plurimos idem
| Sicilienses paciscit obsides ut reddant.
This also the Phoenicians covenant, that their obligations shall be such as may meet the demands of Lutatius; he on his side covenants that the Sicilians must give up the many hostages held prisoners by them.


[44-6] From Book I? Aeneas' ship, built by Mercury? :

PRISCIANUS, on the genitive singular in ' -as.' . . . Naevius in The Song of the Punic War, book I (?) -
| Inerant signa expressa quo modo Titani
| bicorpores Gigantes magnique Atlantes
| Runcus atque Porporeus filii Terras.
On it there were modelled images in the fashion of Titans and two-bodied Giants and mighty Atlases, and Runcus too and the Crimson-hued, sons of Earth.

[47] Aeneas in misfortunes? :

PRISCIANUS: 'Inquies' (adj. unquiet). . . . The uncompounded form of this word is also found in use in all three genders. Naevius in The Song of the Punic War, book I (?) -
| iamque eius mentem Fortuna fecerat quietem.
and by now Fortune had rendered quiet his mind.

[48] The siege of Lilybaeum? {book V?) :

PRISCIANUS : 'Acer' and 'alacer' . . . are found inflected as epithets of common gender in both terminations ... -
| Fames acer augescit hostibus.
Sharp hunger grows great for the enemy.

[49] Relief brought to Lilybaeum by Hannibal in 250 B.C.? (book V?) :

ISIDORUS : 'Flustrum' (calm water), movement of the sea as it undulates, 'fluctuat,' when there is no storm. For example, Naevius has 'in flustris' in The Punic War -
| honerariae honustae stabant in flustris,
the freight-ships with their freights stood still upon the drifts,
where it is the same as if he said 'in salo.'

[50] Siege-operations? :

FESTUS : ' Topper.' Artorius says this means quickly. . . . So in Cnaeus Naevius -
| Topper capesset flammam Volcani.
With all speed will it catch at Vulcan's flame.

[51-2] Preparation of a fleet? Training for sea-warfare?

VARRO : ' Ratis.' By this he {an unknown tragic writer} means ships of war like Naevius when he says -
| (?) Conferreque aut rate eratam aequor per liquidum
| maris eunt undantis atque sedantis.
... a bronze-beaked man-of-war . . . which go over the watery plain of the sea both rough and calm.

[53] The city of Rome; the Bridge of Piles at Rome :

FESTUS : ' Sublicius Pons.' . . . Naevius mentions it when he says in . . . book of The Punic War -
| quam liquidum . . . amnem.
. . . than a liquid . . . river.

[54] Anxieties of a commander? :

PRISCIANUS, on the genitive singular in '-as' : . . . Naevius in The Song of the Punic War -
| Ei venit in mentem hominum fortunas.
he bethought himself of the fortune of men.

[55] Anxieties of soldiers? :

PAULUS : ' Rumitant,' they bear rumours. Naevius -
| Simul alius aliunde rumitant inter sese.
At the same time they rumoured amongst themselves, some from this cause, some from that.


NONIUS : 'Metus' of the masculine gender. In the feminine : Naevius -
| Magnae metus tumultus pectora possidit.
The tumult of a great fear is master of their breasts.


DONATUS, on 'Plerique omnes' in Terentius : This is an archaism. ... -
| Plerique omnes subiguntur sub unum iudicium,
Most and all are brought under one judgement.


PRISCIANUS : We find in the works of the oldest writers the uncompounded form of the epithet ' decor,' genitive 'decoris' with the penultimate short ... -
| Magnam domum decoremque ditem vexarant.
They had abused a mighty dwelling, beautiful and rich.

[59-62] Bravery of soldiers. And a matter of sending help :

FESTUS : That the archaic writers used the term 'stuprum' for shamefulness is clear. . . . Naevius -
| seseque i perire mavolunt ibidem
| quam cum stupro redire ad suos popularis.
and they would rather that they perish then and there than return with disgrace to their fellow-countrymen . . .
And in like manner -
| Sin illos deserant fortissimos virorum
| magnum stuprum populo fieri per gentes.
But if they should forsake those men, the bravest of the brave, great would be the disgrace to the people through all the world.


FESTUS : ' Sardare,' to understand. . . . Naevius in The Punic War, book . . . -
| quo]d bruti nec satis [sardare
| queunt] . . .
because brutish men neither have power enough to understand . . .

[65-6] A proverb expressing something impossible :

VARRO : In a passage of Naevius -
| atque
| prius pariet lucusta Lucam bovem,
and sooner will a lobster spawn a Lucanian cow,
'Lucanian cow' means elephant.




CHARISIUS : 'Pluris.' Naevius in The Play of the Driver -
| Semper pluris feci ego
| potioremque habui libertatem multo quam pecuniam.
I at any rate have always valued freedom at a much higher price than money, and have held freedom to be preferable.


CHARISIUS : 'Secus' (differently) for otherwise .
| Secus si umquam quicquam feci, carnificem cedo.
If I have done anything differently from this, - bring along your hangman!


CHARISIUS : 'Nimio' for 'nimis.' . . . -
| . . . nimio arte colligor. Cur re inquaesita colligor?
I'm bound too tightly. Why am I bound with my case thus untried?


CHARISIUS : 'Opera' with 'dedita' may be declined as a noun, it is true; but still it retains its adverbial force ... -
| Quasi dedita opera quae ego volo ea tu non vis, quae nolo ea cupis.
It's all on purpose, allow me to say, that you don't want what I want; what I don't want you hanker after.


CHARISIUS : ' Tax pax ' . . . -
| (A) Age ne tibi med advorsari dicas; hunc unum diem,
| Demea, meos equos sinam ego illos esse -
|   (B Demea?) Tax pax!
|   (A) Postea
| currenteis eis ego illos vendam, nisi tu viceris.
(A) Come now, don't say I'm against you; Demea, can't I let those horses be mine for just this one day?   (B Demea?) Whack! Thwack!   (A) Afterwards I'll sell them as coursers to those fellows, unless you win.
The same poet in the same play has 'eho' -
|   (C) Eho, an vicimus?
| (D) Vicistis.
|   (C) Volup est. Quo modo?
|   (D) Dicamtibi.
(C) Aha! Have we won?   (D) You've won.   (C) That's fine! How did it come off?   (D) I'll tell you.



GELLIUS : We have heard a tradition about Naevius, that when he was in prison he wrote two plays, The Soothsayer and Leon. . . . He was freed from prison later on, by the tribunes of the plebs, when he had apologised, in the plays, which I mentioned above, for his misdemeanours, and for the impudence of utterances with which he had hurt the feelings of many in the past.

From the prologue? :

FESTUS : 'Oreae,' the bit of a bridle which is introduced into the 'os.' . . . Naevius in The Soothsayer -
| Deprandi autem leoni si obdas oreas,
But if you should offer a bit to the bite of a breakfastless lion,


MACROBIUS : 'Praenestine nuts.' This term occurs in a passage of Naevius in the play called The Soothsayer -
| (A) Quis heri
| apud te?     (B) Praenestini et Lanuvini hospites.
| (A) Suopte utrosque decuit acceptos cibo,
| alteris inanem volvulam madidam dari,
| alteris nuces in proclivi profundier.
(A) Who dined with you yesterday?   (B) Guests from Praeneste and Lanuvium.   (A) It would have been just the thing to have both parties entertained with their favourite fare; to the one you should have given a little sow's belly, drawn and boiled, while for the other you should have spilt out nuts at downhill speed!


TERENTIUS : Cries he, 'A thief and not a poet has made this play; but still he has made no fools of us. There is an old play,- The Flatterer of Naevius and Plautus, and the characters of the sponger and the soldier are taken from it.' . . . The Flatterer is a play of Menander and in it are a sponger, a flatterer, and a braggart soldier.

[29-31] Sponger to the braggart soldier? :

PRISCIANUS : ' Polluceo, polluxi.' . . . Naevius in The Flatterer -
| Qui decumas partes? Quantum mi alieni fuit,
| polluxi tibi iam publicando epulo Herculis
| decumas.
How do you mean, tithes? By thus making public a feast of Hercules I've already offered up to you tithes from all that's mine of other people's property.


NONIUS : ' Prolubium ' . . . -
| et volo et vereor et facere in prolubio est.
I'm both delighted and affrighted; it's my predilection too to do it!


NONIUS : ' Multare ' (punish). Although it means to condemn, it is put for to enrich, to make one obtain one's wish ... -
| et asseri
| laudes ago, cum votis me multat meis,
| quod praeterquam vellem audiebam hoc (?) mihi ennius
and to this beam - my compliments, while it punishes me with my wishes; for - more than I would want - I heard all this. . . .


NONIUS : 'Protinam' or 'protinis' in place of 'protinus'
| Ubi vidi, exanimabiliter timidus pedibus protinam me dedi.
When I saw it I straightway took to my heels, half-deadfully afraid.



CHARISIUS : 'Efflictim.' Naevius in The Garland-Maid -
| Nolo ego
| hanc adeo efflictim amare; diu vivat volo
| ut mihi prodesse possit.
I don't want this girl to love even to death; I want her to live for a long time, so that she can bring me profit.


CHARISIUS : 'Dapsiliter' . . . -
| Ultro meretur quam ob rem ametur; ita dapsiliter suos amicos
| alit.
She earns of herself the merit of being loved; so feastfully does she feed her friends.


CHARISIUS : 'Attattattat attatae' . . . -
| (A) Quid? Salve! Attattattat attatae!
| (B) Rivalis, salve!
|   (A) Quid istud vero te advertisti tam cito?
(A) Well! Good-day - Ah, tut tut tut tut!   (B) Good-day, rival.   (A) But why did you turn so smartly at that exclamation?


CHARISIUS goes on : 'St.' . . . -
| St! tace!
| Cave verbum faxis!
Sh! Quiet! Not a word, mind!


CHARISIUS : 'Nimis.' ... -
| Nimis homo formidulosust.
The fellow's all too fearful.


CHARISIUS : 'Mordicus' . . . -
| . . . utinam nasum abstulisset mordicus.
I wish to goodness he'd taken his nose off at a bite!


[54] From the prologue? :

NONIUS : 'destitui' . . . means 'statui.' Naevius in The Gym-Master -
| In alto navem destitui iubet ancoris.
He ordered the ship to be held in place on the deep by the anchors.

[55] Storm and earthquake? :

NONIUS : 'Dispulverare' (crush to dust) means to dissolve ... -
| Saxa silvas lapides montes dissicis dispulveras,
Rocks, stones, woods, mountains you do crush to pieces, crush to dust,


NONIUS : 'Pecua' and 'pecuda' used like 'pecora' . . . -?
| homines pecua beluasque.
men, cattle, and wild beasts.


NONIUS : 'Simile est' for 'similis est' . . . -
| Pol haut parasitorum aliorum simile est!
Gad! It's nothing like other spongers!


NONIUS : 'Mustum' is a term rightly used not only of wine, but of whatever is brand-new ... -
| (A) Utrum est melius, virginemne an viduam uxorem ducere?
| (B) Virginem, si musta est.
(A) Which of the two is better - to take a maid or a widow as your wife?   (B) A maid, if she's fresh.


NONIUS : 'Cupido.' When we use it in the feminine gender, we mean cupidity . . . when in the masculine, we mean the god himself ... -
| Edepol, Cupido, cum sis tam pauxillus, nimis multum vales!
Begad, o Love, a tiny fellow you may be, yet you are mighty - too much so!


NONIUS : 'Spissum' (thick, dense, stiff) means slow ... -
| At enim tu nimis spisse atque tarde incedis.
But look here; your walk is much too stiff and slow.


NONIUS : 'Herem' for 'heredem ' . . . -
| atque meis bonis
| omnibus ego te herem faciam.
and I will make you heir to all my goods.


[69-71] From the prologue :

CHARISIUS : 'Quanti' is used when we ask the price but are not actually buying; 'quanto' when we are procuring a thing and have bought it. However . . . Naevius in The Tarentine Maid -
| quae ego in theatro hic meis probavi plausibus,
| ea non audere quemquam regem rumpere,
| quanto libertatem hanc hic superat servitus.
that a belief, which I have tested by the applause I get here in the theatre, no King in the world dares to shatter - by what a lot does slavery here beat yonder freedom!

[72] Two young men lead a wild life {at Tarentum?) :

CHARISIUS : 'Utrubi' . . . -
| Utrubi cenaturi estis, hicine an in triclinio?
There are two places - where are you fellows going to dine, here or in the dining-room?


CHARISIUS : 'Serio' for truly ... -
| vereor serio
I'm seriously afraid

[74-9] Their fathers discuss. A girl is the cause of the trouble :

ISIDORE : Naevius on some shameless hussy -
| Quasi pila
| in choro ludens datatim dat se et communem facit.
| Alii adnutat, alii adnictat, alium amat alium tenet.
| Alibi manus est occupata, alii pervellit pedem;
| anulum dat alii spectandum, a labris alium invocat,
| cum alio cantat, at tamen alii suo dat digito litteras.
As though she were playing at ball, give-and-take in a ring, she makes herself common property to all men. To one she nods, at another she winks; one she caresses, another embraces. Now elsewhere a hand is kept busy; now she jerks another's foot. To one she gives her ring to look at, to another her lips blow a kiss that invites. She sings a song with one; but waves a message for another with her finger.

[80-81] One asks where the young men live :

CHARISIUS : 'Peregre' for 'peregri' . . . -
| . . . Ubi isti duo adulescentes habent
| qui hic ante parta patria peregre prodigunt?
Where do those two young men keep house, who squander here abroad the wealth their fathers once gained?

[82] The fathers are greeted by their sons :

CHARISIUS : 'Duum' . . . -
| Salvi et fortunati sitis duo duum nostrum patres!
Good day, good luck to you, the two fathers of us two!

[83] The fathers' disgust at seeing their drunken sons :

CHARISIUS : 'Ei, ei.' ... -
| Ei ei! Etiamne audent mecum una apparere?
Oh! oh! Do they even dare to show up in my company?

[84-5] One son holds up the other? :

CHARISIUS goes on: 'Atattatae.' The same writer in the same play -
| Atattatae!
| cave cadas amabo!
Ah! tut tut! Mind you don't fall, for mercy's sake.

[86-7] Further disgust of a father :

CHARISIUS : 'Rursus' . . . Naevius in The Tarentine Maid. -
| qua, pro! confidentia ausus verbum cum eo fuerim
| facere rursus?
. . . what self-assurance, damn it, made me bold enough to have a word with him again?

[88-9] Warning of a father; women are fickle :

CHARISIUS : 'Nimis' . . . -
| Numquam quisquam amico amanti amica nimis fiet fidelis,
| nec nimis erit morigera et (?) nota quisquam.
You'll never find any lass who's any too faithful to a lad in love; none will be too compliant.

[90-91] Exhortation to the sons :

CHARISIUS : 'Peregri,' however, is the form used when one is in a place . . . -
| Primum ad virtutem ut redeatis, abeatis ab ignavia,
| domos patris patriam ut colatis potius quam peregri probra.
First that you must take leave of idleness and turn again to virtue; pay honour to your homes, your fathers' and your native land, rather than to villainy abroad.

[92] Unplaced fragment :

CHARISIUS : 'Defricate' . . . -
| facete et defricate
smartly and scathingly



FESTUS : 'Penis,' Archaic writers applied this name to a tail . . . perhaps it is derived from 'pendere.' Naevius in A Play about a Little Coat-
| Theodotum
| cum Apella comparas qui Compitalibus
| sedens in cella circumtectus tegetibus
| Lares ludentes peni pinxit bubulo?
Do you compare Theodotus with Apelles - Theodotus who, sitting in a closet, and screened all round with mats, on the day of the Cross-Roads feast, painted with an ox-tail the Guardian-Gods at play?


[1-3] Affairs at Rome. Scandal about Scipio Africanus :

GELLIUS : I shall be content with relating this, which is derived from historical record. It is not certain whether this is true or false, but still the story goes that the famous Scipio, when he was a young man, had a reputation by no means unblemished, and that it was almost an established belief that the following lines, written by the poet Gnaeus Naevius, were directed against him -
| Etiam qui res magnas manu saepe gessit gloriose,
| cuius facta viva nunc vigent, qui apud gentes solus praestat,
| eum suus pater cum palliod unod ab amica abduxit.
. . . Even him whose hand did oft accomplish mighty exploits gloriously, whose deeds wane not but live on to this day, the one outstanding man in all the world. Him, with a single mantle, his own father dragged from a lady-love's arms.


FESTUS : 'Rutabulum' is a tool which peasants use in poking up a fire for baking bread. . . . Naevius, describing the unseemly part of a man -
| Vel quae sperat se nupturam viridulo adolescentulo
| ea licet senile tractet retritum rutabulum?
Again, she who hopes to marry a green young lad, is she to be allowed to handle an old dotard's worn-down poker?


VARRO : At the entrance of the circus, from which the horses are sent off, is the place now spoken of as 'carceres' (the barriers), while Naevius calls it 'oppidum.' , . . The poet wrote 'oppidum' because the barriers at one time had pinnacles and towers so as to look like a wall: -
| . . . Dictator ubi currum insidet,
| pervehitur usque ad oppidum.
When the dictator takes his seat in the chariot, he is driven as far as the barrier.


PAULUS : Says Naevius -
| Cocus edit Neptunum Cererem
| Et Venerem expertam Vulcanom Liberumque absorbuit
| pariter.
The cook ate Neptune, Ceres, Venus too that had known Vulcan, Liber too he swallowed, all at one go.
By Ceres he means bread, by Neptune fish, by Venus greens.



"Clastidium" dramatised the campaign (222 B.C.) whereby the Romans completed their conquest of Cisalpine Gaul through the victory of the consuls M. Claudius Marcellus and Cn. Cornelius Scipio. Marcellus came to the rescue of Clastidium when it was besieged, and defeated the Gauls, killing with his own hand their chief Viridomarus, Virdumarus or Britomatus and thus winning the spolia opima. Although great credit was due to Scipio, Marcellus only was awarded a triumph.

[1] Triumphant return of M. Claudius Marcellus (with Cn. Cornelius Scipio) after victory over Viridomarus in 222 B.C. :

VARRO : In the formation of cases the same thing can come about . . . and what will be lacking can be replaced, so long as nature and custom will allow, for example, in the following in a passage of Naevius' Clastidium -
| Vita insepulta laetus in patriam redux.
Back to his native land, happy in life never dying.


Romulus or Lupus (The Wolf) is apparently one play based on the old Roman legend. We cannot tell whether Naevius followed a different legend in this play from the legend which he followed in The Punic War.

DONATUS : The story, that when a play of Naevius was being performed in the theatre, a she-wolf broke in at the scene of the nourishment of Remus and Romulus, is false.

[2-3] Meeting of a king of Veii with Amulius, King of Alba :

FESTUS : ' Redhostire,' to return a favour. Naevius in The Wolf-
| Rex Veiens regem salutat Viba Albanum Amulium
| comiter senem sapientem : 'Contra redhostis?'   'Min salust? '
Viba, King of Veii, gives kindly greeting to Alba's wise and aged king Amulius : 'Do you requite me in turn? '   'Is it safe for me?'




FESTUS : 'Quianam' is put for 'quare' and 'cur' ... in a passage of Naevius ... in A Medley -
| Quianam Saturnium populum pepulisti?
For why then did you rout Saturn's people?



PSEUDO-ASCONIUS : There is an old remark, witty and spiteful, made by Naevius against the Metelli -
| Fato Metelli Romae fiunt consules.
It's fate that makes Metelli consuls at Rome.
Whereupon the consul Metellus answered him angrily in the hypercatalectic six-footed line which is also called 'Saturnian' -
| Dabunt malum Metelli Naevio poetae.
The Metelli will make the poet Naevius rue it.



GELLIUS : There is Naevius' memorial inscription, full of Campanian haughtiness; it might well have been a truthful estimate of the man if it had not been written by himself -
| Immortales mortales si foret fas flere
| flerent divae Camenae Naevium poetam.
| Itaque postquamst Orchi traditus thesauro,
| obliti sunt Romae loquier lingua latina.
If it were right for the immortal ones to mourn for mortals, then for the poet Naevius would mourn the Goddesses of Song. And so when unto Death's own treasure-house he was delivered, Romans no longer did remember how to speak the Latin tongue.

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