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Roscius

A first-rate actor; so called from the Roman Roscius, unrivalled for his grace of action, melody of voice, conception of character, and delivery. He was paid thirty pounds a day for acting; Pliny says four thousand a year, and Cicero says five thousand.

“What scene of death hath Roscius now to act?”

Shakespeare: 3 Henry VI., v. 6.

Another Roscius.
So Camden terms Richard Burbage (1566-1619).

The British Roscius.
Thomas Betterton, of whom Cibber says, “He alone was born to speak what only Shakespeare knew to write.” (1635-1710).

David Garrick (1716-1779).

The Roscius of France.
Michel Boyron, generally called Baron. (1653-1729.) The Young Roscius. William Henry West Betty, who in fifty-six nights realised 34,000. (Died 1874, aged 84.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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