name = Ennius
birthdate = 239 BCE
deathdate = 169 BCE
nationality = Roman
Quintus Ennius (239 - 169 BC) was a writer during the period of the
Roman Republic, and is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was of Greek descent. Although only fragments of his works survive, his influence in Latin literaturewas significant.
Ennius' more famous works include: the "Epicharmus", the "Euhemerus", the "Hedyphagetica", "Saturae", and the "Annals" ("Annales" in Latin).
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 deathto 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
Euhemerusof 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 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 "Annals" was an epic poem in fifteen books, later expanded to eighteen, covering Roman history from the fall of
Troyin 1184 BC down to the censorship of Cato the Elderin 184 BC. It was the first Latin poem to adopt the dactylic hexametermetre used in Greek epic and didactic, 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.
"The idle mind knows not what it wants." - Ennius
"Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur." - Ennius (quoted by Cicero, "Laelius" 17.64)Translation: "A sure friend shows himself in an unsure time"
*R. A. Brooks, "Ennius and Roman Tragedy" (1981)
*R.L.S. Evans, Ennius in "The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Latin Writers." Ed.Ward Briggs. Vol. 211, 1999.
*H. D. Jocelyn, "The Tragedies of Ennius" (1967)
*O. Skutsch, "The Annals of Quintus Ennius" (1985)
* [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/enn.html Fragments of Ennius' "Annals"] at
The Latin Library; text from Wordsworth (1874), line numbering from Warmington (1935)Persondata
NAME = Ennius
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Ennius, Quintus
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Roman poet
DATE OF BIRTH = 239 BC
PLACE OF BIRTH =
Rudiae, Salento, Italy
DATE OF DEATH = 169 BC
PLACE OF DEATH =
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