Naevius, Gnaeus (c. 265–c. 204 BC)

With the exception of Livius Andronicus, Gnaeus Naevius was the earliest of the creators of Latin literature. Naevius was born probably in Campania. In his youth he served in the first Punic war, made his first appearance at Rome as a dramatic writer in 235 BC, and continued his activity for thirty years. Of his life we know little, save that he was decidely attached to the plebian party, and in his plays satirized and lampooned the Roman nobles. He incurred especially the hostility of the Metelli, and was imprisoned by them, as described in a passage from Miles Gloriosus of Plautus. He was ultimately obliged to retire to Utica in Africa, where he eventually died. Besides his dramatic writings, comprising both tragedies and comedies, he wrote an epic poem, De Bello Punico, in the old Saturnian meter. His work bore the stamp of the national genius, and its vigor and invention won the admiration of Cicero and Horace. Only a few unimportant fragments are extant.