Varro, Marcus Terentius

, usually styled the most learned of all the Romans, was born in the year of Rome 638, or 28 B.C. His immense learning made him the admiration of his time; which yet was the most flourishing for arts and glory that Rome ever knew. He was an intimate friend of Cicero; and his friendship was confirmed and immortalized by a mutual dedication of their learned works to each other. Thus Cicero dedicated his “Academic Questions” to Varro; and Varro dedicated his “Treatise on the Latin tongue” to Cicero, who, in a letter in which he recommends him as questor to Brutus, assures the commander, that he would find him perfectly qualified for the post, and particularly insists upon his good sense, his indifference to pleasure, and his patient perseverance in business. To these virtues he added uncommon abilities, and large stores of knowledge, which qualified him for the highest offices of the state. He attached himself to the party of Pompey, and in the time of the triumvirate was proscribed with Cicero: and, though he escaped with his life, he suffered the loss of his library, and of his own writings; a loss which would be severely felt by one who had devoted a great part of his hfe to letters. Returning, at | length, to Rome, he spent his last years in literary leisure. He died in the 727th year of the city. His prose writings were exceedingly numerous, and treated of various topics in antiquities, chronology, geography, natural and civil history, philosophy, and criticism. He was, besides, a poet of some distinction, and wrote in almost every kind of verse. He is said to have been eighty when he wrote his three books “De Re Rustica,” which are still extant. Five of his books “De Lingua Latina,” which he addressed to Cicero, are also extant, and some fragments of his works, particularly of his “Menippean Satires,” which are medleys of prose and verse. Scaliger has likewise collected some of his epigrams from among the “Catalecta Virgilii. The first edition of Varro” De Lingua Latina“is a quarto, without date or place, but supposed to be Rome, 1471. There is a second, at Venice, 1474, 4to, and a third at Rome, 1474, fol. His whole works, with the notes of Scaliger, Turnebus, &c. were printed by Henry Stephens, 1573, 8vo, reprinted 1581; but the former edition is in greatest request among the curious, on account of a note of Scaliger‘ s, p. 212, of the second part, which was omitted in the subsequent editions. Varro” De Re Rustica“is inserted among the” Auctores de Re Rustica." The use which Virgil makes of this work in his Georgics entitles it *o some respect; and it is amusing as giving us a notion of the agriculture of his time, and the method of laying out gardens, and providing the luxuries of the table, in which the Romans were particularly extravagant. It contains many absurdities, however, and many of those remarks and pieces of information which would now be thought a disgrace to the meanest writer on agriculture. The rev. T. Owen, of Queen’s college, Oxford, and rector of Upper Scudamore, in Wiltshire, published a good translation of this work in 1800, 8vo. 1


Vossius de Poet. Lai. Fabric. Bill’. Lat. Brucker. Saxii Onoinast.