The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Cinna

755

CINNA.

dinia, he went with M. Perperna to join Sertorius in Spain. (Suet. Goes. 5 ; Plut. Sert. 15.) Caesar, his brother-in-law, wishing to make use of him against the party of the senate, procured his recall from exile. But his father had been proscribed by Sulla, and young Cinna was by the laws of pro­scription unable to hold office, till Caesar, when dictator, had them repealed. He was not elected praetor till b. c. 44. By that time he had become discontented with Caesar's government ; and though he would not join the conspirators, he ap­proved of their act. And so great was the rage of the mob against him, that notwithstanding he was praetor, they nearly murdered him; nay, they did murder Helvius Cinna, tribune of the plebs, whom they mistook for the praetor, though he was at the time walking in Caesar's funeral procession. (Plut. Brut. 18, Goes. 68 ; Suet Caes. 52, 85, &c.; Val. Max. ix. 9. § 1.) Cicero praises him for not taking any province (PMlipp. iii. 10); but it may be doubted whether the conspirators gave him the choice, for the praetor does not seem to have been a very disinterested person. He married a daugh­ter of Pompeius Magnus.

4. cinna, probably brother of the last, served as quaestor under Dolabella against Brutus. (Plut. Brut. 25 ; Cic. PMlipp. x. 6.)

5. cn. cornelius cinna magnus, son of No. 3, and therefore grandson of Pompey, whence he received the surname of Magnus. Though he sided with Antony against Octavius, he was preferred to a priesthood by the conqueror, and became con­ sul in a. d. 5. (Senec. de Clem. i. 9; Dion Cass. Iv. 14. 22.) [H. G. L.]

The name of Cinna occurs, in the form of Cinq, on asses, semisses, and trientes. A specimen of one is given below: the obverse represents the head of Janus, the reverse the prow of a ship.

CINNA, C. HE'LVIUS, a poet of considerable renown, was the contemporary, companion, and friend of Catullus. (Catull. x., xcv., cxiii.) The year of his birth is totally unknown, but the day of his death is generally supposed to be a matter of common notoriety-; for Suetonius (Caes. 85) in­forms us, that immediately after the funeral of Julius Caesar the rabble rushed with fire-brands to the houses of Brutus and Cassius, but having been with difficulty driven back, chanced to encounter Helvius Cinna, and mistaking him, from the re­semblance of name, for Cornelius Cinna, who but the day before had delivered a violent harangue against the late dictator, they killed him on the spot, and bore aboufc his head stuck on a spear. The same story is repeated almost in the same words by Valerius Maximus (ix. 9. § 1), by Ap-pian (B. C. ii. 147), and by Dion Cassius (xliv. 50), with this addition, that they all three call Helvius Cinna a tribune of the plebeians, and Suetonius himself in a previous chapter (50) had spoken of Helvius Cinna as a tribune, who was to

CINNA.

have brought forward a law authorizing Caesar to marry whom he pleased and as many as he pleased, in order to make sure of an heir. Plutarch likewise (Caes. 68) tells us that Cinna, a friend of Caesar, was torn to pieces under the supposition that he was Cinna, one of the conspirators. None of the above authorities take any notice of Cinna being a poet; but Plutarch, as if to supply the omission, when relating the circumstances over again in the life of Brutus (c. 20), expressly describes the victim of this unhappy blunder as ttoi^tikos avfip (%v 5e ns KiWas, ironfjriKos dv^p— the reading iro\iTiKos av/ip being a conjectural emendation of Xylander). The chain of evidence thus appearing complete, scholars have, with few exceptions, con­cluded that Helvius Cinna, the tribune, who per­ished thus, was the same with Helvius Cinna the poet; and the story of his dream, as narrated by Plutarch (Caes. L c.) has been embodied by Shak-speare in his Julius Caesar.

Weichert, however, following in the track of Reiske and J. H. -Voss, refuses to admit the iden­tity of these personages, on the ground that chro­nological difficulties render the position untenable. He builds almost entirely upon two lines in Virgil's ninth eclogue, which is commonly assigned to b. c. 40 or 41.

Nam neque adhuc Vario videor, nee dicere Cinna Digna, sed argutos inter strepere anser alores,

arguing that, since Varius was alive at this epoch, Cinna must have been alive also; that the Cinna here celebrated can be no other than Helvius Cinna; and that inasmuch as Helvius Cinna was alive in b. c. 40, he could not have been murdered in b. c. 44. But, although the conclusion is undeniable if we admit the premises, it will be at once seen that these form a chain, each separate link of which is a pure hypothesis. Allowing that the date of the pas­toral has been correctly fixed, although this cannot be proved, we must bear in mind—1. That Varo and not Vario is the reading in every MS. 2. That even if Vario be adopted, the expression in the above verses might have been used with per­fect propriety in reference to any bard who had been a contemporary of Virgil, although recently dead. 3. That we have no right to assert dogma­tically that the Cinna of Virgil must be C. Helvius Cinna, the friend of Catullus. Hence, although we may grant that it is not absolutely certain that Helvius Cinna the tribune and Helvius Cinna the poet were one and the same, at all events this opi­nion rests upon much stronger evidence than the other.

The great work of C. Helvius Cinna was his Smyrna; but neither Catullus, by whom it is highly extolled (xcv.), nor any other ancient writer gives us a hint with regard to the subject, and hence the various speculations in which critics have indulged rest upon no basis whatsoever. Some believe that it contained a history of the adventures of Smyrna the Amazon, to whom the famous city of Ionia ascribed its origin; others that it was connected with the myth of Adonis and with the legend of MyrrJia^ otherwise named Smyrna^ the incestuous daughter of Cinyras; at all events, it certainly was not a drama, as a com­mentator upon Quintilian has dreamed; for the fragments, short and unsatisfactory as they are, suffice to demonstrate that it belonged to the epic style. These consist of two disjointed hexameters

3 c 2

Pages
About | First

754

755

756
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.