Accius, Principles for Playwrights

LCL 314: 590-591

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Gellius, XX, 3: ‘Sicinnium’ . . . genus veteris saltationis fuit. Posuit hoc verbum L. Accius poeta in Pragmaticis appellarique ait— sicinnistas nebuloso nomine; credo propterea nebuloso quod sicinnium cur diceretur obscurum esset.




Dancing of obscure origin:

Gellius: The ‘sicinnium’ was once a kind of ancient dance. . . . Lucius Accius the poet used this word in his Principles for Playwrights and says ‘sicinnistae’ were called—

satyr-dancers of shady name;a

‘shady,’ I suppose, because the origin of the term ‘sicinnium’ was obscure.

  • aIt is clear from Gellius that the Romans did not know exactly what Accius meant by nebulosum nomen. Accius may have meant ‘dark’ or ‘misty’ without any adverse meaning, but it is also probable that he meant ‘nebulosum’ to convey some adverse (cp. nebulo) implication like our word ‘shady.’ Sicinnium meant σίκννις, a dance of satyrs used in the old Greek satyr-plays.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.accius-principles_playwrights.1936