Andronicus Livius

is said to have been the first who wrote theatrical pieces, or what were called regular plays, for the Roman stage, about the year 240 B. C. It is also said that he was a slave, of Greek origin, and that he received his name from Livius Salinator, whose children he taught, and who at length gave him his liberty. His dramatic productions were probably rude both in plan and style. Livy, the historian, ascribes to him the barbarous invention of dividing the declamation and gestures, or speaking and acting, between two persons, which was never thought of by the Greeks. Andronicus, who was a player as well as a writer, it is supposed, adopted it to save himself the fatigue of singing in his own piece, to which he, like other authors of his time, had been accustomed. But being often encored, and hoarse with repeating his canticle or song, he obtained permission to transfer the vocal part to a young performer, retaining to himself only the acting: Duclos, however, and after him Dr. Burney, are inclined to think that the words of the historian mean no more than that the singing was separated from the dancing, a thing credible enough, but absurd in the highest degree, when applied to speaking and acting. Andronicus also composed hymns in honour of the gods. There are fragments of his verses, collected from the grammarians and critics, in the “Comici Latini,” the “Corpus poetarum,” and the “Collectio Pisaurensis.2


Vossius de Poet. Latin. Fabr. Bibl. Lat. Burney’s Hilt, of Music, Vol. I. Biog. Universelle. —Moreri.