(Or Lucius Attius)

Roman poet and playwright. Born 170 BCE (probably in Pisaurum in Umbria), died c. 86 BCE.

A younger contemporary of Marcus Pacuvius, Accius is often considered to rival Pacuvius as a tragedian. In his lifetime, Accius wrote at least 45 tragedies, usually dealing with Greek subjects (Andromeda, Medea, Philoctetes, etc.). He is also the author of at least two praetextae (one on the subject of Decius Mus and the other on Brutus the Liberator).

A prolific writer, he also wrote the Didascalia, a brief history of Greek and Latin poetry; an work in verse on agriculture; and historical annals in verse. Accius is also the first great grammarian of Latin mentioned in the classical sources.

Accius' plays were dignified, and laden with pathos. As one of the first Latin poets to do so, he expressed an appreciation for the beauty of nature.

Most commonly quoted of Accius' plays is his Atreus, which contained the memorable phrase "Oderint dum metuant" ("Let them hate me, so long as they fear me"), which was claimed by Suetonius to have been frequently quoted by the emperor Caligula.

From Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (London, 1880)

L. A'CCIUS or A'TTIUS, an early Roman tragic poet and the son of a freedman, was born according to Jerome B. C. 170, and was fifty years younger than Pacuvius. He lived to a great age; Cicero, when a young man, frequently conversed with him. (Brut. 28.) His tragedies were chiefly imitated from the Greeks, especially from Aeschylus, but he also wrote some on Roman subjects (Praetextata) ; one of which, entitled Brutus, was probably in honour of his patron D. Brutus. (Cic. de Leg. ii. 21, pro Arch. 11.) We possess only fragments of his tragedies, of which the most important have been preserved by Cicero, but sufficient remains to justify the terms of admiration in which he is spoken of by the ancient writers. He is particularly praised for the strength and vigour of his language and the sublimity of his thoughts. (Cic. pro Planc. 24, pro Sest. 66, &c. ; Hor. Ep. ii. 1. 56 ; Quintil. x. 1. § 97 ; Gell. xiii. 2.) Besides these tragedies, he also wrote Annales in verse, containing the history of Rome, like those of Ennius ; and three prose works, "Libri Didascalion," which seems to have been a history of poetry, "Libri Pragmaticon" and "Parerga": of the two latter no fragments are preserved. The fragments of his tragedies have been collected by Stephanus in "Frag. vet. Poet. Lat." Paris, 1664 ; Maittaire, "Opera et Frag. vet. Poet. Lat." Lond. 1713; and Bothe, "Poet. Scenici Latin.," vol. v. Lips. 1834: and the fragments of the Didascalia by Madvig, "De L. Attii Didascaliis Comment." Hafniae, 1831.

An original e-text for everything2. I scanned, OCR'd, formatted, and linked this text - it is not available in any format on any other web site. All Greek words are transliterated into Latin characters.

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