World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Quintus Ennius (; c. 239 – c. 169 BC) was a writer during the period of the Roman Republic, and is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was of Calabrian descent.[1] Although only fragments of his works survive, his influence in Latin literature was significant, particularly in his use of Greek literary models.


  • Biography 1
  • Quotes 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Еditions 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Ennius was born at Rudiae, an old Italian (predominantly Oscan)[2] town historically founded by the Messapians. Here Oscan, Greek, and Latin languages were in contact with one another; according to Aulus Gellius 17.17.1, Ennius referred to this heritage by saying he had "three hearts" (Quintus Ennius tria corda habere sese dicebat, quod loqui Graece et Osce et Latine sciret).

Ennius continued the nascent literary tradition by writing praetextae, tragedies, and palliatae, as well as his most famous work, a historic epic 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 in 184 BC. It was the first Latin poem to adopt the dactylic hexameter metre used in Greek epic and didactic poetry,[3] 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.

Ennius was said to have considered himself a reincarnation of Homer.[4] Early in the poem Homer appears to the narrator, claiming that Ennius now has Homer's soul, which has also once been a peacock (frr. 4-14 Warmington, scholia to Perseus 6.9-11).


  • "Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur." — quoted by Cicero, Laelius 17.64; translation: "A sure friend is seen in an unsure matter"
  • "Good deeds, if badly placed, become bad deeds." — quoted by Cicero in "On Duties (part 2)"
  • "Philosophari sibi necesse esse, sed paucis." / "To think philosophically is good, but in little doses" — quoted by Cicero in "Tusculanes", book II (part 1)
  • "No sacred fellowship / Nor faith (where) kingship is" — quoted by Cicero in "On Duties (part 1)"

See also


  1. ^ Smith, William (1854), "Rhudiae", Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, London : "That author is repeatedly termed a Calabrian (Her. Carm. 4.8; Ovid. A. A. 3.409; Sil. Ital. l. c.; Acron, ad Hor. l. c.)"
  2. ^ Young Sellar, William, The Roman Poets of the Republic, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-108-02982-7, p. 64: an old Italian town (the epithet "vetustae" is applied to it by Silius) which had been partially Hellenised, but still retained its native traditions and the use of the Oscan language
  3. ^ "FJCL Latin Literature Study Guide". Florida Junior Classical League. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Michael Grant, in a footnote to "On the Good Life" by Cicero, Penguin Books, 1971.


  • 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 classic, 40).

Further reading

  • Brooks, Robert A. (1981). Ennius and Roman tragedy. New York.: Arno Press.  
  • Ennius, Quintus (1967). Jocelyn, H D, ed. The tragedies of Ennius. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Evans, R.L.S. (1999). "Ennius". In Briggs, Ward. Ancient Roman Writers. Dictionary of Literary Biography 211. 
  • Fitzgerald, William; Gowers, Emily, eds. (2007). Ennius perennis : the Annals and beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge Philological Society.  
  • Goldberg, Sander M. (1995). Epic in Republican Rome. New York: Oxford University Press.  
  • Jocelyn, H D (1972). "The Poems of Quintus Ennius", in H. Temporini (ed.) ANRW I.2, 987–1026
  • Skutsch, Otto (1985). The Annals of Q. Ennius. Oxford: Clarendon Press.  
  • Skutsch, Otto (1968). Studia Enniana. Athlone Press: London. 
  • Warmington, E.H. (1956). Remains of Old Latin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

External links

  • Quotations related to Ennius at Wikiquote
  •  Latin Wikisource has original text related to this article: Ennius
  • AnnalsFragments of Ennius' at The Latin Library; text from Wordsworth (1874), line numbering from Warmington (1935)
  • : text and translation of all fragmentsAnnalesEnnius' at; adapted from Warmington (1935)
  • Ennius: translation of selected fragments at; 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.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.