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PUBLIUS TERENTIUS VARRO

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 924 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PUBLIUS TERENTIUS VARRO, surnamed ATACINUS (c. 82–36 B.c.), Latin poet, was born near the river Atax in Gallia Narbonensis. He was perhaps the first Roman born beyond the Alps who attained eminence in literature. He seems to have taken at first Ennius and Lucilius as his models, and wrote an epic, entitled Bellum Sequanicum, eulogizing the exploits of Caesar in Gaul and Britain, and also Satires, of which Horace (Satires, i. to) speaks slightingly. Accordingly to Jerome, Varro did not begin to study Greek literature until his thirty-fifth year. The last ten years of his life were given up to the imitation of Greek poets of the Alexandrian school. Quintilian (Instit. x. 1, 87), who describes him as a " translator," speaks of him in qualified terms of praise. Although not vigorous enough to excel in the historical epic or in the serious work of the Roman satura, Varro yet possessed in considerable measure the lighter gifts which we admire in Catullus. His chief poem of the later period was the Argonautae, closely modelled on the epic of Apollonius Rhodius. The age was prolific of epics, both historical and mythological, and that of Varro seems to have held a high rank among them. It is highly spoken of by Ovid (Am. i. 15, 21, A.A. iii. 335, Tristia, ii. 439) and Statius (Silvae, ii. 7, 77), and Propertius (ii. 34, 85) awards equal praise to his erotic elegies. Varro was also the author of a Cosmographia, or Chorographia, a geographical poem imitated from the Greek of Eratosthenes or of Alexander of Ephesus, surnamed Lychnus; and of an Ephemeris, a hexameter poem on weather-signs after Aratus, from which Virgil has borrowed. Fragments in A. Riese's edition of the fragments of the Menippean Satires of Varro of Reate; see also monographs by F. Wollner (1829) and R. Unger (1861).
End of Article: PUBLIUS TERENTIUS VARRO
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