PLAUTUS (254-184).

PLAUTUS, the comic poet, was one of the earliest of Roman writers. Born at Sarsina in Umbria, of free parentage, he at first worked on the stage at Rome, but lost his savings in speculation. Then for some time he worked in a treadmill, but finally gained a living by translating Greek comedies into Latin. Twenty of his plays have come down to us. They are lively, graphic, and full of fun, depicting a mixture of Greek and Roman life.

TERENCE (195-159).

TERENCE was a native of Carthage. He was brought to Rome at an early age as a slave of the Senator Terentius, by whom he was educated and liberated. Six of his comedies are preserved. Like the plays of Plautus, they are free translations from the Greek, and of the same general character.

ENNIUS (139-69).

QUINTUS ENNIUS, a native of Rudiae, was taken to Rome by Cato the Younger. Here he supported himself by teaching Greek. His epic poem, the Annàles, relates the traditional Roman history, from the arrival of Aenéas to the poet's own day.

CICERO (106-43).

MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, a native of Arpínum, ranks as the first prose writer in Roman literature. As an orator Cicero had a very happy natural talent. The extreme versatility of his mind, his lively imagination, his great sensitiveness, his inexhaustible richness of expression, which was never at a loss for a word or tone to suit any circumstances or mood, his felicitous memory, his splendid voice and impressive figure, all contributed to render him a powerful speaker. He himself left nothing undone to attain perfection. Not until he had spent a long time in laborious study and preparation did he make hisdébut as an orator; nor did he ever rest and think himself perfect, but, always working, made the most careful preparation for every case. Each success was to him only a step to another still higher achievement; and by continual meditation and study he kept himself fully equipped for his task. Hence he succeeded, as is universally admitted, in gaining a place beside Demosthenes, or at all events second only to him.

There are extant fifty-seven orations of Cicero, and fragments of twenty more. His famous Philippics against Antony caused his proscription by the Second Triumvirate, and his murder near his villa at Formiae, in December, 43.

His chief writings on rhetoric were De Oratore; Brutus de Claris Oratoribus; and Orator ad M. Brutum. Cicero was a lover of philosophy, and his writings on the subject were numerous. Those most read are De Senectute, De Amicitia, and De Officiis.

Eight hundred and sixty-four of Cicero's letters are extant, and they furnish an inexhaustible treasure of contemporaneous history.

CAESAR (100-44).

Of CAESAR'S literary works the most important are his Commentarii, containing the history of the first seven years of the Gallic war, and the history of the civil strife down to the Alexandrine war. The account of his last year in Gaul was written probably by Aulus Hirtius; that of the Alexandrine, African, and Spanish wars, by some unknown hand. As an orator, Caesar ranks next to Cicero.

NEPOS (94-24).

CORNELIUS NEPOS, a native of Northern Italy, was a friend of both Cicero and Atticus. He was a prolific writer, but only his De Viris Illustribus is preserved. It shows neither historical accuracy nor good style.

LUCRETIUS (98-55).

TITUS LUCRETIUS CARUS has left a didactic poem, De Rerum Natura. The tone of the work is sad, and in many places bitter.

CATULLUS (87-47).

GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS, of Veróna, is the greatest lyric poet of Roman literature. One hundred and sixteen of his poems are extant.

VIRGIL (70-19).

The great epic Roman poet was VIRGIL. His Aenéis, in twelve books, gives an account of the wanderings and adventures of Aenéas, and his struggles to found a city in Italy. The poem was not revised when Virgil died, and it was published contrary to his wishes.

Besides the Aenéis, Virgil wrote the Bucolica, ten Eclogues imitated and partially translated from the Greek poet Theocritus. The Georgica, a poem of four books on agriculture in its different branches, is considered his most finished work, and the most perfect production of Roman art-poetry. (See page 179.)

HORACE (65-8).

QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS left four books of Odes, one of Epodes, two of Satires, two of Epistles, and the Ars Poetica. (See page 180.)

TIBULLUS (54-29).

ALBIUS TIBULLUS, an elegiac poet, celebrated in exquisitely fine poems the beauty and cruelty of his mistresses.


SEXTUS PROPERTIUS, a native of Umbria, was also an elegiac poet, and wrote mostly on love.

OVID (43 B.C. - 18 A.D.)

PUBLIUS OVIDIUS NASO left three books of Amores; one of Heroides; the Ars Amatoria; Remedia Amoris; the Metamorphoses (fifteen books); the Tristia; and the Fasti. (See page 181.)

LIVY (59 B.C. - 17 A.D.).

TITUS LIVIUS left a history of Rome, of which thirty-five books have been preserved. (See page 181.)


PHAEDRUS, a writer of fables, flourished in the reign of Tiberius (14- 37). He was originally a slave. His fables are ninety-seven in number, and are written in iambic verse.

SENECA (8 B.C. - 65 A.D.)

For an account of this writer see the chapter on the Emperor Nero, page 189.


QUINTUS CURTIUS RUFUS was a historian who lived in the reign of Claudius (50 A.D.). He wrote a history of the exploits of Alexander the Great.

PERSIUS (34-62).

PERSIUS, a poet of the reign of Nero, was a native of Volaterrae. He wrote six satires, which are obscure and hard to understand.

LUCAN (39-65).

LUCAN, a nephew of Seneca, wrote an epic poem (not finished) called Pharsalia, upon the civil war between Caesar and Pompey.


GAIUS PLINIUS SECUNDUS, of Northern Italy, was a great scholar in history, grammar, rhetoric, and natural science. His work on Natural History has come down to us.


STATIUS (45-96), a native of Naples, had considerable poetical talent. He wrote the Thebaid, the Achilleis (unfinished), and the Silvae.

MARTIAL (42-102), wrote sharp and witty epigrams, of which fifteen books are extant. He was a native of Spain.

QUINTILIAN (35-95), was also a native of Spain. He was a teacher of eloquence for many years in Rome. His work On the Training of an Orator, is preserved.

JUVENAL(47-130), of Aquínum, was a great satirist, who described and attacked bitterly the vices of Roman society. Sixteen of his satires are still in existence.

TACITUS (54-119). CORNELIUS TACITUS was the great historian of his age. His birthplace is unknown. His writings are interesting and of a high tone, but often tinged with prejudice, and hence unfair. He wrote, -

1. A dialogue on orators. 2. A biography of his father-in-law, Agricola. 3. A description of the habits of the people of Germany. 4. A history of the reigns of Galba, Otho, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian (Historiae). 5. Annales, a narrative of the events of the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.

PLINY THE YOUNGER (62-113). Pliny the Younger was the adopted son of Pliny the Elder. He was a voluminous correspondent. We have nine books of his letters, relating to a large number of subjects, and presenting vivid pictures of the times in which he lived. Their diction is fluent and smooth.