Livius Andronicus

The poet Lucius Livius Andronicus († earlier than 207 BC ) was considered in antiquity as the founder of the Latin or Roman literature. A native of the Greek city of Tarentum, was therefore not a native speaker of Latin. The most important work of Livy Andronicus is the Odusia, a translation of the Greek Odyssey.


Livius Andronicus grew up in the Greek city of Tarentum, where he was probably working as an actor. In Rome, he was first a slave, then a freedman as a private tutor in the family of Livii. For school use, he wrote the Odusia, a written translation of the Odyssey of Homer in Saturniern that was in Rome as the basis of Greek education.

In the year 240 BC Livius Andronicus introduced on the occasion of ' Roman Games ' (Latin ludi Romani ) on the written by himself first Latin drama. This has been considered in antiquity as the birth of the Latin or Roman literature.

In the following years, Livius Andronicus wrote numerous tragedies and comedies, which were performed during religious festivals. 207 BC, he was commissioned for a young women's choir a processional song in honor of the goddess Juno Regina compose. This work was apparently so successful that the writers and actors in Rome the use of the Minerva temple was allowed on the Aventine, which was a significant improvement of their social status.

Since available for the years after 207 BC, no secured messages Livius Andronicus more, lets assume that he is soon died after a performance of the procession song. However, the exact year of death is not known.


None of the works of Livius Andronicus is completely preserved. Are only of the fragments before Odusia sufficient to assess the linguistic- literary character of the work can. In addition, some dramas verses and the title less tragedies and comedies have survived.

Lyrical works

The only known lyrical text of Livius Andronicus is the processional song in honor of Juno Regina from the year 207 BC, from which, however, no fragments have been preserved. Whether the poet beyond wrote more lyrical works is not known.


The plays of Livius Andronicus were probably adaptations of Greek models which he had adapted to the taste of the Roman public. Apart from a few verses only the titles of some tragedies and comedies have survived.

When tragedies are especially busy:

  • From the Trojan myth cycle: Achilles, Aegisthus, Aiax mastigophorus ( " the scourge swinging Aiax " ), Equos Troianus ( " the Trojan horse " ), Hermiona and a tragedy with uncertain occupied title (possibly Teucer );
  • From the Perseus Andromeda and Danae Sage;
  • From the Tereus Tereus saga.

The only sure took comedy title is Gladiolus have (possibly with similar content as the Miles gloriosus of Plautus ) told, another comedy could Ludius. Probably wrote Livy Andronicus further dramas, whose names are not known.


The Odusia is a Latin translation of the Greek Homer's Odyssey. It was probably written for use in schools to facilitate the learning of the Greek language, which was usually done by reading Homer.

The language of written in Saturniern work, of which a number are preserved verses, is significantly more solemn than in the dramas fragments. Livius Andronicus scooped here especially from the formula Treasure religious ceremonies to enhance the pathos of the text and recreate the sublime style of the original in Latin. He was not limited to a mere imitation of the Odyssey in Latin, but is also allowed occasional artistic freedoms. In addition, he transferred elements of Greek mythology into the Roman world of ideas, so he called in the first verse of the work rather than a muse to a Camena, a Italic deity.

Literature Historical significance and aftermath

Livius Andronicus was already in antiquity as the creator and founder of Roman literature, as he had not only written the first Latin works, but also created the stylistic principles of the Latin language poets. Through his adaptation of Greek dramas and his translation of the Odyssey, he set in the standard for the art of literary translation in the Latin antiquity, who did not have a literal transfer to the target, but strove for an adaptation of the content to the ideas of the Roman culture.

However, his works themselves will soon no longer corresponded to contemporary tastes, because they felt their primitive and unpolished language because soon as primitive and ugly. Therefore, the comedies were in the course of time supplanted by the work of Naevius, Plautus and Terence, finally, the tragedies of which Ennius, Accius and Pacuvius. The choice of Saturniers as epic meter was still taken from Naevius, Ennius already but chose instead taken over from the Greek hexameter poetry. Nevertheless, the Odusia was used until the 1st century BC as an aid in teaching Greek, then fell but soon forgotten.