Classics Caecilius Statius
Gesine Manuwald
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 October 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0234


Caecilius Statius (c. 230–168/167 BCE) was a Roman Republican playwright of fabulae palliatae (“comedies in Greek dress”). Situated in between the two famous representatives Plautus and Terence, of whom complete plays survive, he represents an important stage in the development of Roman palliata comedy. Yet, although he is the best-documented comic playwright among those whose works only survive in fragments and was highly regarded in Antiquity (see Ancient Reception), what remains are just forty-two titles of comedies and almost three hundred (partly incomplete) lines quoted in later writers. In aspects such as metrical variety, use of colorful language or employment of linguistic effects and puns Caecilius Statius seems to have followed the conventions of his predecessors; in other respects, such as choice of themes or engagement with the literary tradition, he looks forward to Terence. Caecilius Statius’s comedies apparently included serious thoughts on moral and social issues, mostly related to the immediate family, the corresponding relationships, and the impact of one’s personal affairs on one’s position in society—but they also provided effective drama. As with other fragmentary playwrights, the remains of Caecilius Statius’s dramas were overshadowed by the fully extant plays by Plautus and Terence. Therefore he is regularly mentioned in literary histories and overviews of Roman comedy, especially in the context of attempts at establishing a coherent, evolutionary history of this dramatic genre (see Oxford Bibliographies articles in Classics Latin Drama and Latin Poetry: From the Beginnings through the End of the Republic), but there have been fewer studies specifically devoted to him.

General Overviews

Caecilius Statius is typically treated briefly in all histories of Roman literature and overviews of Roman comedy or theater. Von Albrecht 1997 offers a more detailed and perceptive summary than most literary histories (e.g., Conte 1994). The handbook Suerbaum 2002 presents all key information and data in an accessible format. Among the discussions of Roman comedy or theater, Beare 1964 focuses on Caecilius Statius’s position as a comic playwright, Duckworth 1952 discusses the character of his plays, and Manuwald 2011 provides a comprehensive, up-to-date overview. Wright 1974 (cited under Position in Roman Dramatic Tradition) assesses Caecilius Statius’s place in the Roman dramatic tradition.

  • Beare, W. 1964. The Roman Stage: A Short History of Latin Drama in the Time of the Republic. 3d ed. London: Methuen.

    A comprehensive overview (first published 1950) of all aspects of Roman Republican drama; includes a brief section on Caecilius Statius (pp. 76–80), covering his biography, a list of works, comments on some testimonia, comparison with Greek models, and his success.

  • Conte, Gian Biagio. 1994. Latin Literature. A History. Translated by Joseph B. Solodow. Revised by Don Fowler and Glenn W. Most. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

    One of the standard histories of Roman literature (translated from the Italian original of 1987); devotes a brief section to Caecilius Statius, covering his life, works, and position in the comic tradition.

  • Duckworth, George E. 1952. The nature of Roman comedy. A study in popular entertainment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

    A well-established overview on all aspects of Roman comic drama, with a brief section on Caecilius Statius (pp. 46–49), looking at the character of the plays. See also 2d ed. with a foreword and bibliographical appendix by Richard Hunter, London: Bristol Classical Press, 1994 (Available online).

  • Juhnke, Herbert. 1978. Terenz. In Das römische Drama. Edited by Eckard Lefèvre, 223–307. Grundriß der Literaturgeschichten nach Gattungen. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

    Includes a short overview of Roman comedy between Plautus and Terence, covering information on Caecilius Statius’s life, extant texts and characteristics (pp. 224–229).

  • Manuwald, Gesine. 2011. Roman Republican theatre. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511920868

    Recent survey of Roman Republican drama; includes a section on Caecilius Statius’s life, works, and characteristics of his drama, with further references.

  • Petrone, Gianna. 1992. I Romani. In Storia del teatro. I Greci – I Romani. Edited by Umberto Albini and Gianna Petrone, 339–684. Milan: Garzanti.

    Overview of Roman theater in Italian, including Caecilius Statius.

  • Pociña Pérez, Andrés. 2000. El comediógrafo Cecilio Estacio. In Estudios sobre comedia romana. Edited by Aurora López and Andrés Pociña, 289–299. Studien zur klassischen Philologie 119. New York: Peter Lang.

    Only discursive publication solely devoted to Caecilius Statius, commenting briefly on his life, works, characteristics, and reception. Earlier published in Sodalitas (1980) 1:211–231 and Estudios clásicos 25 (1981–1983): 64–78.

  • Suerbaum, Werner, ed. 2002. Handbuch der Lateinischen Literatur der Antike. Erster Band. Die Archaische Literatur. Von den Anfängen bis Sullas Tod. Die vorliterarische Periode und die Zeit von 240 bis 78 v. Chr. (HLL 1). HbdA VIII.1. Munich: C. H. Beck.

    Handbook of early Roman literature that includes an entry on Caecilius Statius by Jürgen Blänsdorf (pp. 229–231), providing all key details about life and works, testimonia, and bibliography.

  • von Albrecht, Michael. 1997. A history of Roman literature: From Livius Andronicus to Boethius. With Special Regard to its Influence on World Literature. Revised by Gareth Schmeling and by the author. 2 vols. Mnemosyne Suppl. 165. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

    One of the standard histories of Roman literature (translated from the 1994 German original); devotes a comprehensive and detailed section to Caecilius Statius.

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