The Info List - Ennius

Quintus Ennius
(/ˈkwɪntəs ˈɛniəs/; c. 239 – c. 169 BC) was a writer and poet who lived during the Roman Republic. He is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was born in Rudiae,[1] formerly a small town located near modern Lecce
in the heel of Italy (ancient Calabria, today Salento), and could speak Oscan as well as Latin
and Greek. Although only fragments of his works survive, his influence in Latin literature
Latin literature
was significant, particularly in his use of Greek literary models.


1 Biography 2 Literature 3 See also 4 References 5 Editions 6 Further reading 7 External links

Biography[edit] 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.[2] 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 informed him that his spirit had been reborn into Ennius.[3] It is true that the doctrine of the transmigration of souls 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 that he claimed descent from Messapus, the legendary king of his native district.[4] The partly Hellenised city of Rudiae, his place of birth, was certainly in the area settled by the Messapians. And this, he used to say, according to Aulus Gellius, had endowed him with a triple linguistic and cultural heritage, fancifully described as "three hearts… Greek, Oscan and Latin”.[5] The public career of Ennius
first really emerges in middle life, when he was serving in the army with the rank of centurion during the Second Punic War. While in Sardinia
in the year 204 BC, he is said to have attracted the attention of Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
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
Scipio Africanus
and Fulvius Nobilior, whom he accompanied on his Aetolian campaign (189). Afterwards he made the capture of Ambracia, 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 that Ennius
subsequently obtained Roman citizenship. But he himself lived plainly and simply in the literary quarter on the Aventine Hill with the poet Caecilius Statius, 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, 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.”[6] Literature[edit] Ennius
continued the nascent literary tradition by writing plays in Greek and Roman style (praetextae and palliatae), as well as his most famous work, a historic epic in hexameters called the Annales. Other minor works include the Epicharmus, the Euhemerus, the Hedyphagetica, and Saturae. The Epicharmus presented an account of the gods and the physical operations of the universe. In it, the poet dreamed he had been transported after death to some place of heavenly enlightenment. The Euhemerus presented a theological doctrine of a vastly different type in a mock-simple prose style modelled on the Greek of Euhemerus of Messene and several other theological writers. According to this doctrine, the gods of Olympus were not supernatural powers still actively intervening in the affairs of men, but great generals, statesmen and inventors of olden times commemorated after death in extraordinary ways. The Hedyphagetica took much of its substance from the gastronomical epic of Archestratus of Gela. The eleven extant hexameters have prosodical features avoided in the more serious Annales. The remains of six books of Saturae show a considerable variety of metres. There are signs that Ennius
varied the metre sometimes even within a composition. A frequent theme was the social life of Ennius himself and his upper-class Roman friends and their intellectual conversation. The Annales was an epic poem in fifteen books, later expanded to eighteen, covering Roman history from the fall of Troy
in 1184 BC down to the censorship of Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
in 184 BC. It was the first Latin poem to adopt the dactylic hexameter metre used in Greek epic and didactic poetry,[7] 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's Aeneid. About 600 lines survive. A copy of the work is among the Latin
rolls of the Herculaneum
library. See also[edit]

Prosody (Latin)


^ Smith, William (1852), "Rudiae", A Smaller Classical Dictionary, London : " Rudiae
is celebrated as the birthplace of Ennius" ^ E. Badian, “ Ennius
and his Friends” in Ennius, Fondation Hardt, Geneva 1972, pp.149-99 ^ Aicher, Peter (Summer 1989). "Ennius' Dream of Homer". The American Journal of Philology. 110 (2): 227–232. JSTOR 295173.  ^ Commentary on the Aeneid, vii. 691 ^ Noctes Atticae 17.17.1 ^ Most of this section is drawn from the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica ^ "FJCL Latin
Literature Study Guide" (PDF). Florida Junior Classical League. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 


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.

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Further reading[edit]

Aicher, P. (1989). Ennius' Dream of Homer. The American Journal of Philology, 110(2), 227-232. Bettini, M. (1979). Studi e note su Ennio. Pisa: Giardini. Brooks, R. A. (1981). Ennius
and Roman Tragedy. New York: Arno Press. ISBN 0-405-14030-4.  Elliott, J. (2009). Ennius' 'Cunctator' and the History of a Gerund in the Roman Historiographical Tradition. The Classical Quarterly, 59(2), 532-542. 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. Evans, R.L.S. (1999). "Ennius". In Briggs, Ward. Ancient Roman Writers. Dictionary of Literary Biography. 211.  Fisher, J. (2014). The 'Annals' of Quintus Ennius
and the Italic Tradition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Fitzgerald, W., and Emily Gowers, eds. (2007). Ennius
Perennis. The Annals and Beyond. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philolological Society, Supplementary Volume 31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldberg, S. M. (1995). Epic in Republican Rome. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509372-0.  Goldberg, S. (1989). Poetry, Politics, and Ennius. Transactions of the American Philological Association 119: 247–261. Goldschmidt, N. (2012). Absent Presence: Pater Ennius
in Renaissance Europe, Classical Receptions Journal, 4(1), 1–19. Goldschmidt, N. (2013). Shaggy Crowns: Ennius' Annales and Virgil's Aeneid. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jocelyn, H. D. Ennius
(Q. Ennius). (1967). The Tragedies of Ennius: The Fragments. Edited by Henry David Jocelyn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jocelyn, H. D. (1972). The Poems of Quintus Ennius. Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt 1.2. Edited by Hildegard Temporini, 987–1026. Morgan, L. (2014). A Metrical Scandal in Ennius. The Classical Quarterly, 64(1), 152–159. Cambridge University Press. Sciarrino, E. (2006). The Introduction of Epic in Rome: Cultural Thefts and Social Contests. Arethusa 39: 449–469. Skutsch, O. (1968). Studia Enniana. London: Athlone. Skutsch, O. Ennius
(Q. Ennius). (1985). The Annals of Q. Ennius. Oxford: Clarendon.

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Ennius
at Wikiquote   Latin
has original text related to this article: Ennius Media related to Ennius
at Wikimedia Commons Fragments of Ennius' Annals at The Latin
Library; text from Wordsworth (1874), line numbering from Warmington (1935) Ennius' Annales: text and translation of all fragments at attalus.org; adapted from Warmington (1935) Ennius: translation of selected fragments 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.

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