Flaccus, Caius Valerius

, was an ancient Latin poet, of whom our accounts are very imperfect. There are many places that claim him, but Setia, now Sezzo, a town of Campania, seems to have the best title; and it is from thence that he bears the surname Setinus. Martial, who was his contemporary and friend, intimates that he lived at Padua, or at least was born there, as may be collected from" an epigram in which he advises him to quit the beggarly study of poetry, and to apply himself to the bar, as the more profitable profession of the two. He died when he was about thirty years of age, in the year 93 or 94, and before he had put the finishing hand to the poem which he left.

Flaccus chose the history of the Argonautic expedition for the subject of his poem; of which he lived to compose no more than seven books, and part of an eighth. It is addressed to the emperor Vespasian; and Flaccus takes occasion at the same time to compliment Domitian on his poetry, and Titus on his conquest of Judaea. The learned world have been divided in their opinion of this author; some not having scrupled to exalt him above all the Latin poets, Virgil only excepted; while others have set him as much below them. This poem of the Argonautic expedition is an imitation, rather than a translation, of the Greek poet Apollonius, four books of whose poem upon the same subject are yet remaining; and it has generally been agreed that the Latin poet has succeeded best in those parts where he had not the Greek in view. Apollonius has by no means suffered where Flaccus has seemed to translate him, none of his spirit having been lost in the transfusion; and | some have ranked him among the few whose copies have rivalled their originals. He professedly imitated Virgil, and is often successful. Upon the whole, he does not deserve to be so neglected as he has been; especially while other poets of antiquity have been thought worthy of notice, who are not superior to him either for matter, style, or versification. Quintilian seems to have entertained the highest opinion of his merit, by the short eulogium he has left of him: “multum in Valeric Flacco nuper amisimus.” After several editions of this poet, with notes of the learned, Nic. Heinsius published him at Amsterdam, in 1680, 12mo; which edition was republished in the same size, in 1702. But the best edition is that, “cum notis integris variorum & Petri Burmanni,” printed at Leyden, ia 1724, 4to.

It may be proper to mention, that John Baptista Pius, an Italian poet, completed the eighth book of the Argonautics, and added two more, by way of supplement, partly from Apollonius; which supplement was also printed at the end of Flaccus, in Aldus’ s edition of 1523, and has been subjoined to all, or at least most of the subsequent editions. 1


Vossius de Poet, Lat. Fabric. Bibl. Lat, —Moreri,