Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 November 2022



  • Peter G. M. Brown


Atellana (sc. fabula), in origin a native Italian farce, named after *Atella in Campania but doubtless common in Oscan towns, and probably early known in Rome, where it was normally performed in Latin. (Livy 7. 2 and Val. Max. 2. 4. 4 provide evidence for the amateur status of actors in Atellana; the implications are disputed.) It was a masked drama, largely improvised, with stock characters: Bucco (‘the fool’), *Dossennus (‘the glutton’), Maccus (‘the clown’, the most frequently occurring name in titles of Atellanae), Manducus (‘the chewer’, an ogre or bogeyman, thought by many to be an alternative name for Dossennus), Pappus (‘the old gaffer’). It became a literary form for a short time in the period of *Sulla, its principal exponents being L. *Pomponius and *Novius. Other named authors are Aprissius (one line survives) and perhaps Sulla himself (if this is what his ‘satyric comedies’ were); and a Mummius is said by Macrobius to have revived the genre later (three short fragments survive). Atellanae continued to be performed at least until the time of *Juvenal.


  • Latin Literature

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription