Introduction To Publilius Syrus
To the Caesarian age belonged two prominent writers of mimes with both of whom the great Julius came into contact—Decimus Laberius (105–43 b.c.) and Publilius Syrus. Publilius reached Rome, we are told by the elder Pliny, a in the same ship as Manilius, the astronomical poet, and Staberius Eros, the grammarian. As a dramatic performance the mime b had imported from the Greek cities of Southern Italy a tradition of ridiculing social life in tones of outspoken mockery; it represented or travestied domestic scandals with ribald language and coarse gestures. At times it made excursions into mythological subjects: at times it threw out allusions which bore or seemed to bear audaciously on politics. Audiences who were tiring of more regular comedy found its free-and-easy licence vastly amusing, though Cicero’s critical taste made it hard for him to sit through a performance of pieces by Laberius and Publilius. c
- aPlin. N.H. xxxv. 58 (199). The correct form of his name, instead of the erroneous “Publius,” was established by Woelfflin, Phil. 22 (1865), 439.
- bSee Hermann Reich, Der Mimus, ein litterarentwickelungs- geschichtlicher Versuch, Berlin, 1903. For brief account, J. Wight Duff, Lit. Hist, of Rome, 1909, pp. 222–23; Klotz, Gesch. der röm. Lit., 1930, p. 77.
- c Ad Fam. XII. 18. 2.