|History of Roman Literature|
by Wilhelm Sigmund Teuffel
(Trans. George C.W. Warr)
George Bell & Sons (1891)
134. Among poets L. Accius (born a. 584/170 at Pisaurum, died at an advanced age) is especially famous as the author of numerous tragedies imitated from the Greek. The choice made by Accius manifests a just appreciation of the genuine tragic element, as well as a certain predilection for romantic incidents and the Trojan legends. These fragments are in a lively and impassioned tone, though frequently more cleverly turned than really pathetic. He dealt also with original Roman subjects in his praetextae Aeneadae s. Decius and Brutus. In prose he composed nine books Didascalicon, Pragmaticon libri, Annales and Parerga. Resembling Ennius in versatility of forms and subject, liberal thought and consciousness of his own worth, Accius surpassed his predecessor in accuracy and polish.
1. HIERON. on Euseb. Chr. a. 1878=615/139 L. Accius tragoediarum scriptor clarus habetur, natus Mancino et Serrano coss.
(584/170) parentibus libertinis et seni iam Pacuvio Tarenti sua scripta recitavit. a quo et fundus Accianus iuxta Pisaurum dicitur, quia illuc inter colonos fuerat (his father, as the deductio happened as early as 570/184) ex urbe deductus. PLIN. NH. 7, 128 also mentions the poet as Pisaurensis: pretium hominis in servitio geniti maximum ad hanc diem fuit grammaticae artis Daphnin Attio (thus DETLEFSEN, RhM. 18, 236: daphni natio the MSS.) Pisaurense vendente et M. Scauro principe civitatis HS DCC licente. This instruction of Accius imparted his great value to Daphnis (§ 41, 1. 142, 4). His father's patron was perhaps an ancestor of the knight T. Attius (Accius) of Pisaurum, the accuser of Cluentius (§ 179/15). Accii (and Attii) appear on inscriptions from Pisaurum, OLIVIERI marm. Pisaur. 1738. The forms Accius and Attius probably differ dialectically. In the MSS. that with cc greatly preponderates (see LMÜLLER'S Lucilius p. 320); on the other hand, in inscriptions the spelling of the name with tt is far the more frequent.Portrait of Accius on a contorniate: BERNOULLI, röm. Ikonogr. 1, 289 (cf. n. 2).
2. CIC. Brut. 229 Accius isdem aedilibus (c. 614/140) ait se et Pacuvium docuisse fabulam, cum ille LXXX, ipse XXX annos natus esset. pArch. 27 D. Brutus, summus vir et imperator (cos. 616/138), Accii amicissimi sui carminibus templorum ac monumentorum aditus exornavit suorum, on which the SCHOL. BOB. p. 359 observes eius versus Saturnii a D. Bruto Gallaeco vestibulo templi Martis superscripti.CORNIF. ad Her. 1, 24 mimus quidam nominatim Accium poetam compellavit in scena. cum eo Accius iniuriarum egit. hic nihil aliud defendit nisi licere nominari eum cuius nomine scripta dentur agendo. Cf. ib. 2, 19 P. Mucius (iudex) eum qui L. Accium poetam nominaverat condemnavit.PLIN. NH. 34, 19 notatum ab auctoribus et L. Accium poetam in Camenarum aede maxima forma statuam sibi posuisse, cum brevis admodum fuisset.CIC. Brut. 107 D. Brutus M. filius, ut ex familiari eius (cf. leg. 2, 54) L. Accio poeta sum audire solitus etc. According to this passage Cicero knew Accius personally, and was in the habit of conversing with him on literary topics; this supposes Cicero to have been at least 20 years of age, so that Accius must have lived till about 668/86 and have attained an age of over 80 years. CIC. Phil. 1, 36 referring to the reproduction of Accius' Tereus (cf. ad Att. 16, 2, 3. 16, 5, 1) in the year 710/44: nisi forte Accio tum plaudi et sexagesimo post anno palmam dari, non Bruto putatis. Here Cicero is reckoning not from the death of Accius, but (roughly) from the first performance of the Tereus, which accordingly would fall about the year 650/104, about Accius' 66th year.VAL. MAX. 3, 7, 11 poeta Accius . . . Iulio Caesari, amplissimo ac florentissimo viro (himself the author of tragedies, see § 153, 3) in conlegium poetarum (§ 94, 7) venienti numquam adsurrexit, . . . quod in comparatione communium studiorum aliquanto se superiorem esse confideret. Besides, Accius was about 40 years older than his fellow-poet.
3. QUINT. 5, 13, 43 aiunt Accium interrogatum, cur causas non ageret, cum apud eum in tragoediis tanta vis esset optime respondendi, hanc reddidisse rationem: quod illic ea diceret quae ipse vellet, in foro dicturi adversarii essent, quae minime vellet. In CIC. Planc. 59 he is called gravis et ingeniosus poeta; Sest. 120 summus poeta. The epithets altus (Hor. E. 2, 1, 56), animosi oris (OVID. am. 1, 15, 19) etc. express his tragic qualities in a general manner. Cf. GELL. 13, 2, 2 cum Pacuvius . . . Tarentum concessisset, Accius, tunc haud parvo iunior, profiscens in Asiam cum in oppidum venisset, devertit ad Pacuvium comiterque invitatus plusculisque ad eo diebus retentus tragoediam suam cui Atreus nomen est desideranti legit. (3) tum Pacuvium dixisse aiunt, sonora quidem esse quae scripsisset et grandia, sed videri tamen ea sibi duriora paulum et acerbiora. (4) ita est, inquit Accius, uti dicis; neque id me sane paenitet; meliora enim fore spero quae deinceps scribam.
4. VELLEI. 1, 17, 1 in Accio circaque eum romana tragoedia est. Of the tragedies of A. about 45 titles are still known to us, the largest number we have of any Roman tragic writer, and probably nearly the whole number that he composed; in accordance with this the fragments of Accius are also the most numerous; the most celebrated plays were perhaps Atreus, Epigoni, Epinausimache, Philocteta.The fragments in RIBBECK, trag.2 p. 136. Enumeration of the titles and contents of the plays by TEUFFEL in the Tüb. Progr. 1858, 17. Cf. ORIBBECK, röm. Trag. 344. 599; röm. Dicht. 1, 177. FLEO on Sen. trag. 1, 158. KROBERT, Bild und Lied 133.
5. Of his praetextae (RIBBECK, trag.2 p. 281; röm. Trag. 586) Decius (or Aeneadae) treated of the self-sacrifice of P. Decius Mus the Younger (a. 459/295), Brutus of the downfall of Tarq. Superbus and the creation of consuls.VARRO LL. 6, 7 ut in Bruto Cassii quod dicebat Lucretia ‘nocte intempesta nostram devenit domum'; cf. ib. 7, 72 apud Cassium (the same line follows here): therefore a praetexta of the same contents as the Brutus of Accius; hence, in spite of the name Cassius being twice transmitted to us, it is usually attributed to A.
6. The fragments of Accius other than dramatic (n. 7-10) see in LMÜLLER'S Lucilius (1872) p. 303 (cf. p. 317). FPR. 266.
7. Didascalia (c.f. e.g. Aristotle's διδασκαλίαι), a history of Greek and Roman poetry, with special attention to dramatic art and treating also of the poet's own times: very scanty fragments (down to b. 9). MADVIG, op. 1 (Copenh. 1834), 96. TEUFFEL, Tüb. Progr. v. 1858, 35. RIBBECK, röm. Dicht. 1, 267. The majority of the fragments preserved appear to be in sotadean metre (LACHMANN, kl. Schr. 2, 67. RITSCHL and others) and this is supported by GELL. 6. 9, 16 (cf. PRISC. GL. 2, 517, 5) L. Accius in Sotadicorum l. I. But the address to Baebius in CHARIS. GL. 1, 142, 1 is in prose (BÜCHELER, RhM. 35, 401): according to this b. 9 must have had a preface in prose (cf. the prose prologues in Mart. Auson. and others). But an unmistakable iambic senarius also occurs (PRISC. GL. 1, 253). BÜCHELER 1.1. considers the main substance of the work to have been prose. GHERMANN, op. 8, 390 assumed trochaic tetrameters (cf. § 146, 3). On a bad mistake of Accius in connection with the history of literature, see § 94, 2.
8. Pragmaticon libri, in trochaic tetram. and on subjects connected with the history of literature and art.
9. PLIN. NH. ind. auct. to b. 18 (naturae frugum) Attius qui Praxidicam (so RIBBECK: praxidica the MSS.), ut sereretur cum luna esset in ariete etc.: therefore a work on agricultural subjects, and in agreement with this is the title: Praxidica = Persephone, invoked in the Orphic hymn 29, 5 as Πραξιδίκη . . . Δηοῦς κάλος ἁγνόν . . . ἱερὸν ἐκφαίνουσα δέμας βλαστοῖς χλοοκάρποις κτλ. ORIBBECK, RhM. 41, 631. A fragment in NON. 61, 19 from
parergorum lib. I (two iambic senarii) treats of ploughing as does the fragment from the Praxidica of sowing, and is certainly also derived from the latter, which in Nonius is quoted not with the separate title but under the collective one (Parerga). But it is not very credible that these parerga should have included all the works of Accius except the tragedies, and that we must thus explain the quotation annali XXVII (FEST. 146, 31; see n. 10); at the least it should have been worded parergorum XXVII.
10. Annales in the epic metre, from which mythological quotations (on Hermes and the Κρόνια) have been preserved. Bk. 1 and bk. 27 are quoted (the latter number probably too high and corrupt, see n.9).
11. Evidence that he studied his language is to be found in many artificial words and usages in Accius' tragedies, especially his mode of employing alliteration (TEUFFEL, Progr. v. 1858, 32), and in the notice (MAR. VICT. GL. 6, 8) that he wrote aggulus (instead of ang.), did not use z and y, and denoted the long quantity of the vowels a, e and u by doubling them (§ 93, 10; perhaps this custom was adhered to by the elder Pliny, at least for the endings of the fourth declension? see DDETLEFSEN, symb. philol. Bonn. 712). Accius found the model for this duplication in other Italic dialects, e.g. the Oscan, Umbrian, Sabellian. RITSCHL, op. 4, 142. 153. 361. 492. 687. Did Accius also set the example of replacing C by K before a and by Q before u? Cf. HJORDAN, krit. Beitr. z. Gesch. d. lat. Spr. (Berl. 1879), 125. SCHADY, de Mar. Vict. (1869) 13. M Varro dedicated to him his work de antiquitate litterarum (§ 166, 6, e). Cf. VARRO LL. 10, 70 Accius haec in tragoediis largius a prisca consuetudine movere coepit et ad formas graecas verborum magis revocare, a quo Valerius (see § 147, 1) ait: Accius Hectōrem nolet facere, Hectŏra malet; and 5, 21 apud Accium non terminus, sed termen.
12. GBOISSIER, le poète Attius, Paris 1857. TEUFFEL, Caecilius Statius etc. Tüb. 1858, 14 and PRE. 12, 2008. RIBBECK, röm. Trag. 340. 602; röm. Dicht. 1, 177. Critical contributions by LFRUTERIUS, RhM. 33, 241.