Biography of Cecilio Estacio (¿-168 a. C.)

Latin playwright. According to St. Jerome, Cecilio was a Gallic insubre, possibly born in Milan. Aulo Gelio informs us that he/she began his career in Rome as a slave. We must assume, therefore that Cecilio was taken prisoner and brought to Rome as a slave around 223-222 a. C. In fact, his praenomen Statius, "Assistant", was common among slaves. It is possible to to be manumitido take the nomen Caecilius of its former owner, with what Estació became his cognomen. Anyway, there is no too much certainty about the condition of slave of the author, so this news could be based only on a mere explanation of their name Estació.

According to St. Jerome, the highlight of the career of Estació is located around 179 BC and his death in 168 a. C. We find the first news about this author in mouth of Terence, who tells how the beginning of Cecilio as a playwright were not very bright, but thanks to the help and perseverance of the actor and businessman Ambivio Turpión, who committed early on in the talent of Estacio, managed to finally win the applause of the public. Another anecdote also puts it in relation to Terence, who Caecilius read his first comedy, Andria, something that seems unlikely considering that this work of Terence is dated around the 166 b.c., when Cecilio was already dead by order of magistrates.

Have been preserved to us the titles of 42 comedies, many of which have the title in Greek; in this regard, we must consider Cecilio as a turning point in the history of the Roman scene, therefore, against its predecessors Nevio and Plautus, was always much more respectful with the Greek originals that served him as a model. The Grammarian Varro (scholar of the works of Plautus) considered that Cecilio had outperformed other dramatic authors by the plots of his works and their emotional force. Cecilio thus showed a clear preference for the Greek playwright Menander (model of at least 16 of its comedies); in fact, the own Cicero considered Cecilio along with Terence a translator of the works of the Greek author. According to this information, it is just that the character of the works of Cecilio was more severe and serious to that of plautinas comedies, idea confirmed by Horacio (epist. 2, 59), who praised her gravitas of this author.

All comedies, the best known is the titled Plocium, that Aulo Gelio (2, 23) transcribed us three passages and confronted them with the original of Menander. After this comparison, Gellius drew the conclusion that comedies the Roman, even very good, were always lower than their Greek originals: this work of Cecilio lacked, in his opinion, the subtlety, the authenticity and accurate imitation of the life of the comedy of Menander. These fragments of the Plocium allow us to check how it acted with their original Roman authors: here it is observed that, although the situation is the same (a husband complains of his wife that bullying him), Cecilio introduces in his text some variants that are not in Menander aimed to arouse the laughter of the audience. Thus, it can be assumed that Cecilio was halfway between the absolute freedom that enjoyed Nevio and Plautus in his original treatment and respect with which Terence adapted Greek comedy. Cecilio showed their preferences by Menander with its comedies of moralizing type, although without forgetting the tastes of a public eager to find in the theater burlesque and satirical scenes, with a mood far more explicit than the studied dramatic situations of the Greek comedies.


Editions and studies: E. H. Warmington, Remains of Old Latin, London, 1967; O Ribbeck, Comicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, Leipzig, 1897; W Beare, the Roman scene, Buenos Aires, 1964; G E. Duckworth, The Nature of Roman Comedy, Princeton, 1952; A. Traina, Vortit barbare, Rome, 1970.

Teresa Jiménez-Calvente.