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PRAETEXTA OR PRAETEXTATA
Form: sc. fabula.
A class of Roman tragedies, which found its materials, not in the Greek myths, but, in the absence of native legendary heroes, in ancient and contemporary Roman history. The name was derived from the fact that the heroes wore the national dress, the toga praetexta, the official garb, edged with purple, of the Roman magistrates. Naevius introduced them, and, following his example, the chief representatives of tragic art under the Republic, Ennius, Pacuvius, and Accius, composed, in addition to tragedies imitated from Greek originals, independent plays of this kind, which were however cast in the form they had borrowed from the Greeks. We also hear of some plays of this class written by poets of imperial times. The solitary example preserved to us is the tragedy of Octavia, wrongly ascribed to Seneca (q.v.), which perhaps may date from 1 A.D. (Cp. TOGATA.)
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