The Ancient Library

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formed part of the fleet of Brutus and Cassius. The threatened war, however, did not break out ; and a reconciliation took place at Brundusium between Octavian and Antony in b. c. 40, at which Pollio acted the part of mediator. Pollio returned to Rome with the triumvirs, and now be­came consul with Cn. Domitius Calvinus, according to the promise made him three years before. It was during his consulship that Virgil addressed to him his fourth Eclogue.

In the following year, b. c. 39, Antony went to Greece, and sent Pollio with a part of his army to fight against the Parthini, an Illyrian people, who had espoused the side of Brutus and Cassius. Pollio was successful in his expedition ; he defeated the Parthini and took the Dalmatian town of Sa-lonae ; and in consequence of his success obtained the honour of a triumph on the 25th of October in this year. He gave his son Asinius Gallus the agnomen of Saloninus after the town which he had taken. It was during his Illyrian campaign that Virgil addressed to him the eighth Eclogue (see especially 11. 6, 7, 12).

From this time Pollio withdrew altogether from political life, and devoted himself to the study of literature. He still continued however to exercise his oratorical powers, and maintained his repu­tation for eloquence by his speeches both in the senate and the courts of justice. When the war broke out between Octavian and Antony, the former asked Pollio to accompany him in the cam­paign ; but he declined on account of his former friendship with Antony, and Octavian admitted the validity of his excuse. He lived to see the supremacy of Augustus fully established, and died at his Tusculan villa, a. d. 4, in the eightieth year of his age, preserving to the last the full enjoyment of his health and of all his faculties. (Val. Max. viii. 13. § 4.)

Asinius Pollio deserves a distinguished place in the history of Roman literature, not so much on account of his works, as of the encouragement which he gave to literature. He was not only a patron of Virgil, Horace (see Carm. ii. 1), and other great poets and writers, but he has the honour of having been the first person to establish a public library at Rome, upon which he expended the money he had obtained in his Illyrian cam­paign. (Plin. H. N. vii. 3, xxxv. 2.) He also introduced the practice of which Martial and other later writers so frequently complain, of reading all his works before a large circle of friends and critics, in order to obtain their judgment and opinion before making them public. (Senec. Con­trov. iv. Praef. p. 441.) None of Pollio's own works have come down to us, but they possessed sufficient merit to lead his contemporaries and suc­cessors to class his name with those of Cicero, Virgil and Sallust, as an orator, a poet and an his­torian. It was however as an orator that he possessed the greatest reputation. We have already seen that he distinguished himself when he was only twenty-two by his speech against C. Cato : Catullus describes him in his youth (Carm. xii. 9) as

" leporum Disertus puer et facetiarum,"

and Horace speaks of him in the full maturity of his powers (Carm. ii. 1. 13) as


" Insigne maestis praesidium reis Et consulenti, Pollio, curiae ;"

and we have also the more impartial testimony of Quintilian, the two Senecas and the author of the Dialogue on Orators to the greatness of his ora­torical powers. Belonging as he did both to the Ciceronian and the Augustan age, the orations of Pollio partook somewhat of the character of each period. They possessed the fertility of invention and the power of thought of the earlier period, but at the same time somewhat of the artificial and elaborate rhetoric which began to characterise the style of the empire. There was an excessive care bestowed upon the composition, and at the same time a fondness for ancient words and expressions, which often obscured the meaning of his speeches, and detracted much from the pleasure of his hearers and readers. Hence the author of the Dialogue on Orators (c. 21) speaks of him as durus et siccus, and Quintilian sa}^s (x. 1. § 113) that so far is he from possessing the brilliant and pleasing style of Cicero (nitor etjucunditas Ciceronis)^ that he might appear to belong to the age preceding that of the great orator. We may infer that there was a de­gree of pedantry and an aifectation of learning in his speeches ; and it was probably the same desire of exhibiting his reading, which led him to make frequent quotations from Ennius, Accius, Pacuvius, and the other ancient poets. (Quintil. i. 8. § 1 i, ix. 4. § 76.) The care however with which he com­posed his speeches—his diligentia—forms an espe­cial subject of praise with Quintilian. (Comp. in general Quintil. x. 1. § 113, x. 2. § 25, xii. 11. § 28 ; Senec. Controv. iv. Praef. p. 441, Suas. vi. p. 50 ; Seriec. Ep. 100 ; Auct. Dial, de Orat. 17, 21, 25.) Meyer has collected the titles of eleven of his orations. (Orator. Roman. Fragm. p. 491, &c.)

As an historian Pollio was celebrated for his history of the civil wars in seventeen books. It commenced with the consulship of Metellus and Afranius, b. c. 60, in which year the first trium­virate was formed, and appears to have come down to the time when Augustus obtained the undis­puted supremacy of the Roman world. It has been erroneously supposed by some modern writers from a passage in Plutarch (Caes. 46), that this work was written in Greek. Pollio was a con­temporary of the whole period embraced in his history, and was an eye-witness of many of the important events which he describes. His work was thus one of great value, and is cited by subse­quent writers in terms of the highest commendation. It appears to have been rich in anecdotes about Caesar, but the judgment which he passed upon Cicero appeared to the elder Seneca unjustly severe. Pollio was assisted to some extent in the compo­sition of the work by the grammarian Atteius Philologus, who drew up for his use certain rules which might be useful to him in writing. (Suid. s. v. 'Affiwios ; Senec. Suas. vi. vii. ; Hor. Carm. ii. 1 ; Suet. Caes. 30, De III. Gram. 10 ; Plut. Caes. 46 ; Tac. Ann. iv. 34 ; Appian, B. C. ii. 82 ; Val. Max. viii. 13. ext. 4.)

As a poet Pollio was best known for his trage­dies, which are spoken of in high terms by Virgil and Horace, but which probably did not possess any great merit, as they are hardly mentioned by subsequent writers, and only one fragment of them is preserved by the grammarians. (Virg. Ed. iii. 86, viii. 10 ; Hor. Carm. ii. 1. 9, Sat. i. 10. 42 ;

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