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Quintus Ennius (; c. 239 – c. 169 BC) was a writer and poet who lived during the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. He is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was born in
Rudiae Rudiae (''Rusce'' in the local dialect and Ῥοδίαι in ancient Greek), is presently an archaeological park beside the Via San Pietro in Lama that runs south-west from the city of Lecce Lecce (, ; scn, label=Salentino Salentino ...
, formerly a small town located near modern
Lecce Lecce (, ; scn, label=Salentino Salentino is a dialect of the Sicilian language spoken in the Salento peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its borde ...

Lecce
in the heel of Italy (ancient
Calabria it, Calabrese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demogr ...
, today
Salento Salento (Salentino Salentino is a dialect of the Sicilian language spoken in the Salento peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connec ...

Salento
), and could speak
Oscan Oscan is an extinct Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and th ...
as well as Latin and Greek. Although only fragments of his works survive, his influence in
Latin literature Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originall ...
was significant, particularly in his use of Greek literary models.


Biography

Very little is reliably known about the life of Ennius. His contemporaries hardly mentioned him and much that is related about him could have been embroidered from references to himself in his now fragmentary writings. Some lines of the ''Annales'', as well as ancient testimonies, for example, suggest that Ennius opened his epic with a recollection of a dream in which the ancient epic-writer
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Homer
informed him that his spirit had been reborn into Ennius. It is true that the doctrine of the
transmigration of souls Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the Philosophy, philosophical or Religion, religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being begins a new life in a different physical form or physical body, body after ...
once flourished in the areas of Italy settled by Greeks, but the statement might have been no more than a literary flourish. Ennius seems to have been given to making large claims, as in the report by
Maurus Servius Honoratus Servius was a late fourth-century and early fifth-century grammarian Grammarian may refer to: * Alexandrine grammarians, philologists and textual scholars in Hellenistic Alexandria in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE * Biblical grammarians, schola ...
that he claimed descent from Messapus, the legendary king of his native district. The partly Hellenised city of
Rudiae Rudiae (''Rusce'' in the local dialect and Ῥοδίαι in ancient Greek), is presently an archaeological park beside the Via San Pietro in Lama that runs south-west from the city of Lecce Lecce (, ; scn, label=Salentino Salentino ...
, his place of birth, was certainly in the area settled by the
Messapians The Messapians ( grc, Μεσσάπιοι, Messápioi; la, Messapii) were a Iapygian tribe who inhabited Salento Salento (: ''Salentu'', : ''Σαλέντο'') is a cultural, historical and geographic region at the southern end of the adminis ...
. And this, he used to say, according to
Aulus Gellius Aulus Gellius (c. 125after 180 AD) was a Roman author and grammarian, who was probably born and certainly brought up in Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map ...
, had endowed him with a triple linguistic and cultural heritage, fancifully described as "three hearts… Greek, Oscan and Latin". The public career of Ennius first really emerges in middle life, when he was serving in the army with the rank of
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is ...

centurion
during the
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...

Second Punic War
. While in
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
in the year 204 BC, he is said to have attracted the attention of
Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicam ...
and was taken by him to Rome. There he taught Greek and adapted Greek plays for a livelihood, and by his poetical compositions gained the friendship of some of the greatest men in Rome whose achievements he praised. Amongst these were
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
and Fulvius Nobilior, whom he accompanied on his Aetolian campaign (189). Afterwards he made the capture of
Ambracia Ambracia (; grc-gre, Ἀμβρακία, occasionally , ''Ampracia'') was a city of ancient Greece on the site of modern Arta, Greece, Arta. It was captured by the Ancient Corinth, Corinthians in 625 BC and was situated about from the Ambracian Gu ...
, at which he was present, the subject of a play and of an episode in the ''Annales''. It was through the influence of Nobilior's son
Quintus Quintus is a male given name derived from ''Quintus (praenomen), Quintus'', a common Latin language, Latin forename (''praenomen'') found in the culture of ancient Rome. Quintus derives from Latin word ''quintus'', meaning "fifth". Quintus is an ...
that Ennius subsequently obtained Roman citizenship. But he himself lived plainly and simply in the literary quarter on the
Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legend ...
with the poet
Caecilius Statius Statius Caecilius, also known as Caecilius Statius (; c. 220 BC – c. 166 BC), was a Roman comic poet. Life and work A contemporary and intimate friend of Ennius Quintus Ennius (; c. 239 – c. 169 BC) was a writer and poet who lived during t ...
, a fellow adapter of Greek plays. At about the age of 70 Ennius died, immediately after producing his tragedy ''Thyestes''. In the last book of his epic poem, in which he seems to have given various details of his personal history, he mentioned that he was in his 67th year at the date of its composition. He compared himself, in contemplation of the close of the great work of his life, to a gallant horse which, after having often won the prize at the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
, obtained his rest when weary with age. A similar feeling of pride at the completion of a great career is expressed in the memorial lines which he composed to be placed under his bust after death: “Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men.”


Literature

Ennius continued the nascent literary tradition by writing plays in Greek and Roman style (
praetexta The ''praetexta'' or ''fabula praetexta'' was a genre of Latin tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesi ...
e and palliatae), as well as his most famous work, a historic epic in hexameters called the ''
Annales Annales or annals Annals ( la, annāles, from , "year") are a concise historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Event ...
''. Other minor works include the ''Epicharmus'', ''Epigrammata'', the ''Euhemerus'', the ''Hedyphagetica'', ''Praecepta''/''Protrepticus'', ''Saturae'' (or ''Satires''), ''Scipio'', and ''Sota''. La Barbera (2014).


The ''Annales''

The ''
Annales Annales or annals Annals ( la, annāles, from , "year") are a concise historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Event ...
'' was an
epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
in fifteen books, later expanded to eighteen, covering Roman history from the fall of
Troy Troy (Greek language, Greek: Τροία) or Ilium (Greek language, Greek: Ίλιον) was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in present-day Turkey, south-west of Çanakkale. It is known as the setting for the Greek mythology, Greek myth of the ...

Troy
in 1184 BC down to the censorship of
Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicam ...
in 184 BC. It was the first Latin poem to adopt the
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as "heroic hexameter" and "the meter of epic") is a form of meter The metre ( Commonwealth spelling) or meter (American spelling Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and ...
metre used in Greek epic and didactic poetry, leading it to become the standard metre for these genres in Latin poetry. The ''Annals'' became a school text for Roman schoolchildren, eventually supplanted by
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
''. About 600 lines survive. A copy of the work is among the Latin rolls of the
Herculaneum Herculaneum ( it, Ercolano) was an ancient town, located in the modern-day ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and f ...

Herculaneum
library.


Minor works

The ''Epicharmus'' was inspired by the philosophical hypotheses developed by the Sicilian poet and philosopher
Epicharmus of Kos Epicharmus of Kos Kos or Cos (; el, Κως ) is a island, part of the island chain in the southeastern . Kos is the third largest island of the Dodecanese by area, after and ; it has a population of 33,388 (2011 census), making it the second ...
, after which Ennius's work took its name. Editors of ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' (2016). In the ''Epicharmus'', the poet describes a dream he had in which he died and was transported to some place of heavenly enlightenment. Here, he met Epicharmus, who explained the nature of the gods and taught Ennius the physics of the
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

universe
. The ''Euhemerus'' presented a
theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
doctrine based on the ideas Greek of
Euhemerus Euhemerus (; also spelled Euemeros or Evemerus; grc, Εὐήμερος ''Euhēmeros'', "happy; prosperous"; late fourth century BC) was a Greek mythographer Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a s ...
of Messene, who argued that the gods of
Olympus Olympus or Olympos ( grc, Ὄλυμπος) may refer to: Mountains In antiquity Greece * Mount Olympus Mount Olympus (; el, Όλυμπος, Ólympos, also , ) is the highest mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth' ...
were not supernatural powers that interference in the lives of humans, but rather heroes of old who
after death were eventually regarded as deities
after death were eventually regarded as deities
due to their valor, bravery, or cultural impact (this belief is now known as
euhemerism Euhemerism () is an approach to the interpretation of mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture o ...
). Both
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
and
Lactantius Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) was an early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the ...

Lactantius
write that the ''Euhemerus'' was a "translat
on
on
and a recount
ng
ng
of Euhemerus's original work the ''Sacred History'', but it is unclear if this means Ennius simply translated the original from Greek into Latin, or added in his own elements. Most of what is preserved of this work comes to us from Lactantius, and these snippets suggest that the ''Euhemerus'' was a prose text. The ''Hedyphagetica'' took much of its substance from the
gastronomical
gastronomical
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
of
Archestratus Archestratus ( grc-gre, Ἀρχέστρατος ''Archestratos'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ...
of Gela. The extant portions of Ennius's poem discuss where a reader might find the best type of fish. Most of the fragments, replete with unique terms for fish and numerous place names, are corrupt or damaged. The ''Hedyphagetica'' is written in
hexameterHexameter is a metrical line of verses consisting of six feet (a "foot" here is the pulse, or major accent, of words in an English line of poetry; in Greek and Latin a "foot" is not an accent, but describes various combinations of syllables). It wa ...

hexameter
s, but differs from the ''Annales'' in regards to "metrical practices"; this difference is largely due to each works' distinct subject matter. The titles ''Praecepta'' and ''Protrepticus'' were likely used to refer to the same (possibly exhortatory) work. However, given this work's almost non-existent nature (only the word ''pannibus''an "unusual" form of the word ''pannis'', meaning "rags"is preserved in the work of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
grammarian Grammarian may refer to: * Alexandrine grammarians, philologists and textual scholars in Hellenistic Alexandria in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE * Biblical grammarians, scholars who study the Bible and the Hebrew language * Grammarian (Greco-Roman ...
Charisius Flavius Sosipater Charisius ( 4th century AD) was a Latin Philologist, grammarian. He was probably an Africa (Roman province), African by birth, summoned to Constantinople to take the place of Euanthius, a learned commentator on Terence. ''Ars G ...

Charisius
), this position is extremely difficult to verify. The ''Saturae'' is a collection of about thirty lines from satirical poemsmaking it the first extant instance of Roman satire. These lines are written in a variety of poetic metres. The poems in this collection "were mostly concerned with practical wisdom, often driving home a lesson with the help of a fable." Ennius's ''Scipio'' was a work (possibly a
panegyric A panegyric ( or ) is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness ...
poem) that apparently celebrated the life and deeds of
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
. Hardly anything remains of this work, and what is preserved is embedded in the works of others. Unfortunately, "no quotation of 'Scipio''supplies a context". Some have proposed that the work was written before the ''Annales'', and others have said that the work was written after Scipio's 201 BC triumph that followed the
Battle of Zama The Battle of Zama was fought in 202 BC near Zama, now in Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and ...

Battle of Zama
(202 BC). Ennius, Goldberg, & Manuwald (2018), pp. 28687. The ''Sota'' was a poem, potentially of some length, named after the Greek poet
Sotades Sotades ( el, Σωτάδης; 3rd century BC) was an Ancient Greek poet. Biography Sotades was born in Maroneia, either the one in Thrace, or in Crete. He lived in History of Alexandria#Ptolemaic era, Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy II Phi ...
. The work, which followed a metre established by Sotades known as the "Sotadeus", concerned itself with a number of disparate topics and ideas. Ennius, Goldberg, & Manuwald (2018), pp. 29697.


Editions

* Quinto Ennio. ''Le opere minori, Vol. I. Praecepta, Protrepticus, Saturae, Scipio, Sota''. Ed., tr., comm. Alessandro Russo. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2007 (Testi e studi di cultura classica, 40). * Warmington, E. H. (1935). Ennius (Q. Ennius). ''Remains of Old Latin.'' Edited by Eric Herbert Warmington. Vol. 2: Ennius and Caecilius. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


See also

*
Latin literature Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originall ...
*
List of ancient Romans This an alphabetical List of ancient Romans, including citizens of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one ...
*
Prosody (Latin) Latin prosody (from Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the m ...


Footnotes


Bibliography

* * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * Elliott, J. (2010). "Ennius as Universal Historian: The Case of the Annales." ''Historiae Mundi: Studies in Universal History.'' Ed. Peter Liddel and Andrew Fear. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 148–161. * * Fisher, J. (2014). The 'Annals' of Quintus Ennius and the Italic Tradition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. * Fitzgerald, W., and
Emily Gowers Emily Joanna Gowers, ( Thomas; born 27 September 1963) is a British classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on t ...
, eds. (2007). Ennius Perennis. The Annals and Beyond. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philolological Society, Supplementary Volume 31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * * * * *Jocelyn, H. D. Ennius (Q. Ennius). (1967). ''The Tragedies of Ennius: The Fragments''. Edited by Henry David Jocelyn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * * * *Skutsch, O. (1968). ''Studia Enniana''. London: Athlone. *


External links

* * *
Fragments of Ennius' ''Annals''
at
The Latin Library The Latin Library is a website that collects public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawi ...
; text from Wordsworth (1874), line numbering from Warmington (1935)
Ennius' ''Annales'': text and translation of all fragments
at ''attalus.org''; adapted from Warmington (1935)

at ''elfinspell.com''; from ''Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome by Various Translators'' (1847) * ''Remains of old latin. Vol. 1: Aennius and Caecilius'', E. H. Warmington (a cura di), Cambridge-London, 1935
pagg. 1–465
* {{Authority control People from the Province of Lecce Ancient Roman tragic dramatists Old Latin-language writers Latin-language writers Epic poets 3rd-century BC poets 2nd-century BC poets 2nd-century BC Romans 3rd-century BC Romans 230s BC births 160s BC deaths Ennii Italic people