Fragments of apparently two plays, and no more, have survived.
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
Varro, L.L., IX, 78: In vocabulis casuum possunt item fieri <iacturae> † . . . ac reponi quod aberit, ubi patietur natura et consuetudo . . . ut in hoc apud Naevium in Clastidio—
Vita insepulta laetus in patriam redux.
Romulus sive Lupus
Donatus, ad Ter., Adelph., IV, 1, 21: Falsum est quod dicitur intervenisse lupam Naevianae fabulae alimonio Remi et Romuli, dum in theatro ageretur. Cp. Varr., L.L., VII, 54.
Historical Plays in Roman Dress
(Polyb., II, 34–35; Plut., Marc., 6–8, etc. Grauert, Philol., II, 119 ff.; Ribbeck, 72 ff.).
Romulus or Lupus (The Wolf). Apparently one play—W. Beare, Class. Rev., 1949, 49. (Cf. Ribbeck, 63 ff., who believes Romulus and Lupus to be separate plays; H. Reich, ‘Ueber die Quellen der ältesten Röm. Gesch.,’ Fetschr. O. Schade, 408 ff.; Mesk, Wien. St., XXXVI, 27 ff.; Holzinger, Wien. St., XXXIV, 19, 7; Fraenkel, in Paulys Real-Encycl., Suppl.-B. VI, 629). We cannot tell whether Naevius followed a different legend in this play from the legend which he followed in The Punic War (pp. 46 ff.).
Triumphant return of M. Claudius Marcellus (with Cn. Cornelius Scipio) after victory over Viridomarus in 222 b.c.:
Romulus or the Wolf
: 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.
- ai.e. we may, under certain conditions, use in a missing case a noun which in ordinary speech is defective.
- bIt was perhaps somewhere near this sentence that Naevius used the term ‘vitulantes’ (trippling along), to express possibly the joy of Roman soldiers.—Varro, L.L., VII, 107 Apud Naevium . . . in Clastidio vitulantes a vitula. The word occurs in the preceding play also; see pp. 126–7.