Cornelius Gallus - Encyclopedia




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CORNELIUS GALLUS (c. 70-26 B.C.), Roman poet, orator and politician, was born of humble parents at Forum Julii (Fr4jus) in Gaul. At an early age he removed to Rome, where he was taught by the same master as Virgil and Varius Rufus. Virgil, who dedicated one of his eclogues (x.) to him, was in great measure indebted to the influence of Gallus for the restoration of his estate. In political life Gallus espoused the cause of Octavianus, and as a reward for his services was made praefect of Egypt (Suetonius, Augustus, 66). His conduct in this position afterwards brought him into disgrace with the emperor, and having been deprived of his estates and sentenced to banishment, he put an end to his life (Dio Cassius liii. 23). Gallus enjoyed a high reputation among his contemporaries as a man of intellect, and Ovid (Tristia, iv. 10) considered him the first of the elegiac poets of Rome. He wrote four books of elegies chiefly on his mistress Lycoris (a poetical name for Cytheris, a notorious actress), in which he took for his model Euphorion of Chalcis; he also translated some of this author's works into Latin. Nothing by him has survived; the fragments of the four poems attributed to him (first published by Aldus Manutius in 1590 and printed in A. Riese's Anthologia Latina, 1869) are generally regarded as a forgery.

See C. Valker, De C. Galli vita et scriptis (1840-1844); A. Nicolas, De la vie et des ouvrages de C. Gallus (1851), an exhaustive monograph. An inscription found at Philae (published 1896) records the Egyptian exploits; see M. Schanz, Geschichte der romischen Litteratur, and Plessis, Poisie latine (1909).

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