Although the artistic product of the first period of Latin literature which has reached us in a complete shape is limited to the comedies of Plautus and Terence, the influence may most appropriately be taken as marking the end of one period and the beginning of another.
As a dramatist he worked more in the spirit of Plautus than of Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius or Terence; but the great Umbrian humorist is separated from his older contemporary, not only by his breadth of comic power, but by his general attitude of moral and political indifference.
The consequence of the latter was sometimes to subject them to a servitude worse than death, as is seen in the plays of Plautus and Terence, which, as is well known, depict Greek, not Roman, manners.
More than Naevius and Plautus he represented the pure native element in that literature, the mind and character of Latium, the plebeian pugnacity, which was one of the great forces in the Roman state.
Aristophanes and Plautus show us how often resort was had to the discipline of the lash even in the case of domestic slaves.
The elements of this Christian Latin language may be enumerated as follows: - (i.) it had its origin, not in the literary language of Rome as developed by Cicero, but in the language of the people as we find it in Plautus and Terence; (ii.) it has an African complexion; (iii.) it is strongly influenced by Greek, particularly through the Latin translation of the Septuagint and of the New Testament, besides being sprinkled with a large number of Greek words derived from the Scriptures or from the Greek liturgies; (iv.) it bears the stamp of the Gnostic style and contains also some military expressions; (v.) it owes something to the original creative power of Tertullian.
The lyrical metres of Plautus are wonderfully varied, and the textual critic does well not to attempt to limit the possibilities of original metrical combinations and developments in the Roman comedian.
Laos and F ra (Davus, Geta) were common as names of slaves in Attic comedy and in the adaptations of Plautus and Terence.
Soranus was accused of intimacy with Rubellius Plautus (another object of Nero's hatred), and of endeavouring to obtain the goodwill of the provincials by treasonable intrigues.
Among the writers before the age of Cicero he alone deserves to be named with Naevius, Plautus Ennius and Cato as a great originative force in literature.