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date: 22 March 2018


Fabula was the general Latin term for ‘play’ or ‘drama’. Ancient terminology is not entirely consistent, but the following types of Latin fabulae are mentioned: fabula Atellana; crepidata, almost certainly adaptations of Greek tragedy (crepida was a type of Greek shoe); palliata, sometimes used of all drama with a Greek setting, but normally restricted to comedy (pallium = Greek cloak); planipedia ( =mime, also called mimus or mimica; planipes, ‘flatfoot’, was a term for a mime-actor); praetexta(ta), serious drama on Roman historical subjects (the toga praetexta was worn by magistrates); Rhinthonica, plays in the style of Rhinthon's phlyakes (perhaps a term for Atellanae with mythological subjects); togata (‘drama in a toga’), sometimes used of all drama set in Rome or Italy, but normally restricted to a type of comedy set there (also apparently known as tabernaria, ‘private-house drama’); trabeata (see maecenas melissus, c.). The Life of Lucan (see annaeus lucanus, m.) says that he wrote salticae fabulae, ‘dancing plays’, evidently libretti for the pantomime. A distinction is also found between comedies that are motoriae (‘full of movement’), statariae (‘static’), and mixtae (‘mixed’). Some modern (but no ancient) authorities use the terms fabula cothurnata for adaptations of Greek tragedy (the cothurnus was the thick-soled boot worn by Italian tragic actors) and fabula riciniata for mime (the ricinium was a hood worn as part of the costume in mimes). See comedy, latin; tragedy, latin.


W. Beare, The Roman Stage, 3rd edn. (1964), 264–266.Find this resource:

A. Lesky, Gesammelte Schriften (1966), 583 ff.Find this resource:

C. O. Brink, Horace on Poetry: The Ars Poetica, 2 (1971), on l. 288.Find this resource:

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