Ennius, Quintus

, an ancient Latin poet, was born at Radian, a town in Calabria, anno U. C. 514, or B.C. 237. That this was the place of his nativity, we learn from himself, as well as from others; and the Florentines at this day claim him for their fellow-citizen. He came at first to Rome, when M. P. Cato was quaestor, whom he had instructed in the Greek language in Sardinia. C. Nepos informs us, that “Cato, when he was praetor, obtained the province of Sardinia, from whence, when he was quaestor there before, he had brought Ennius to Rome:” which we esteem,“says the historian,” no less than the noblest triumph over Sardinia.“He had a house on the Aventine mount; and, by his genius, conversation, and integrity, gained the friendship of the most eminent perspns in the city. Among these were Galba and M. Fulvius Nobilior, by whose son (who, after his father’s example, was greatly addicted to learning) he was made free of the city. He attended Fulvius in the war against the Ætolians and Ambraciotae, and celebrated his victories over those nations. He fought likewise under Torquatus in Sardinia, and under the elder Scipio; and in all these services distinguished himself by his uncommon valour. He was very intimate with Scipio Nasica, as appears from Cicero: Nasica, going one day to visit Ennius, and the maid-servant saying that he was not at home, Scipio found that she had told him so by her master’s orders, and that Ennius was at home. A few days after, Ennius coming to Nasica, and inquiring for him at the door, the latter called out to him,” that he was not at home.“Upon which Ennius answering,” What do I not know your voice“Scipio replied,” You have a great deal of assurance for I believed your maid, when she told me, that you were not at home and will not you believe me myself?" Ennius was a man of uncommon virtue, and lived in great simplicity and frugality. He died at the age of seventy years; and his death is said to have been occasioned by the gout, contracted by an immoderate | use of wine, of which he always drank very freely before he applied himself to writing. This Horace affirms:

Ennius ipse pater nunquam nisi potus ad arma

Prosiluit dicenda. Lib. i. epist. 19.

Inspir’d with wine old Ennius sung, and thought

With the same spirit that his heroes fought. Pitt.

He was interred in the Appian way, within a mile of the city, in Scipto’s sepulchre; who had so great an esteem and friendship for him, that he ordered him to be buried in his sepulchre, and a statue to be erected to him upon his monument. Valer. Maximus observes, that “Scipio paid these honours to Ennius, because he thought that his own, actions received a lustre from that poet’s writings; and was persuaded, that the memory of his exploits would last as long as the Roman empire should flourish.

Ennius is said to have been perfectly well skilled in the Greek language, and to have endeavoured to introduce the treasures of it among the Latins. Suetonius tells us, that “he and Livius Andronicus were half Greeks, and taught both the Greek and Latin languages at home and abroad.” He was the first among the Romans who wrote heroic verses, and greatly polished the Latin poetry. He wrote the Annals of Rome, which were so highly esteemed, that they were publicly recited with unusual applause by Q,uintus Vargonteius, who digested them into books; and they were read at Puteoli in the theatre by a man of learning, who assumed the name of the Ennianist. He translated several tragedies from the Greek, and wrote others. He published likewise several comedies; but, whether of his own invention, or translated by him, is uncertain. He gave a Latin version of Evemerus’s sacred history, and Epicharmus’s philosophy and wrote Phagetica, epigrams; Scipio, a poem Asotus or Sotadicus, satires Protreptica & Praecepta, and very probably several other works. It appears from his writings, that he had very strong sentiments of religion. The fragments of Ennius, for there are nothing but fragments left, were first collected by the two Stephenses; and afterwards published by Jerom Columna, a Roman nobleman, with a learned commentary, and the life of Ennius, at Naples, 1590, 4to. Columna’s edition was reprinted at Amsterdam, 1707, 4to, with several additions by Hesselius, professor of history and | eloquence in the school at Rotterdam, and this is by far the best edition of Ennius. 1


Gen. Dict. —Vossius de Poet. Lat. —Saxii Onomasticon.