MARCUS PACUVIUS, son of Ennius' sister, was born in 220 B.C. at Brundisium. At Rome he occupied himself with the writing of tragedy (some add satire) and with painting. He lived on terms of friendship with Laelius. He produced a play in his eightieth year ( 140 B.C.), one of the competitors in that year being Accius, fifty years his junior and his successor in tragedy. Later he retired to Tarentum, where he was visited by Accius, then on his way to Asia. Accius stayed with Pacuvius for a few days, and read his Atreus to the old dramatist. Pacuvius died towards the year 130 B.C. A well-known picture painted by him was preserved at the temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium.
Such is the account we piece together from various sources of different authority. It was Accius himself, according to Cicero, who vouched for the fact that Pacuvius and he produced plays on the same occasion. The connexion with Brundisium is supported by the form of his name, which, according to philologists, is Oscan. (We notice that he uses the Oscan word ungulus for 'ring'.) The elder Pliny's reference to the existence (in early times) of a picture by him sounds reliable; but Pliny does not seem to have seen this picture himself, or to imply that it was extant in his own day. If Pliny is right in calling Pacuvius Ennius' nephew, then Jerome is wrong in saying that he was the son of Ennius' daughter -- which, according to Jerome's own dates, would make Ennius a grandfather at the age of twenty. (Perhaps the discrepancy arose from the ambiguity of nepos, which sometimes means 'nephew', sometimes 'grandson'.) Pacuvius' friendship with Laelius may be a touch of fiction added by Cicero to lend human interest to what is itself a fictitious address 'On Friendship' put into the mouth of Laelius. Gellius' anecdote about Accius' visit to Pacuvius and their discussion of the tragedy of Atreus seems suspiciously like that
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Publication information: Book title: The Roman Stage:A Short History of Latin Drama in the Time of the Republic. Contributors: W. Beare - Author. Publisher: Methuen. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 69.
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