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On this page: Varius Cc – Varius Ltgur – Varius Marcellus



quickly put the law into execution. Bestia and Cotta went voluntarily into exile, and other dis­tinguished men were condemned. Varius even accused M. Scaurus, the princeps senatus, who was then seventy-two years of age, but was obliged to drop this accusation. [scaurus, p. 736, b.J Varius himself was condemned under his own law in the following year, and was put to death. (Appian, B. C. i. 37 ; Val. Max. viii. 6. § 4 ; Cic. de Orat. i. 25, Brut. 62 ; Val. Max. iii. 7. § 8 ; Cic. pro Scaur, i ; Ascon. in Scaur, p. 22, ed. Orelli ; Cic. Brut. 56, de Nat. Deor. iii. 33.) Cicero in the passage last quoted accuses Varius of the murder of Drustis and Metellus.

2. M. varius, or M. marius, as he is called by Plutarch and Orosius, a Roman senator, was sent bv Sertorius to Mithridates in b. c. 75, when

mJ '

he made a treaty with him, in order that Varius might command the forces of the king. Varius is afterwards mentioned as one of the generals of Mithridates in the war with Lucullus. (Appian, Mitlir. 68, 76, foil. ; Plut. Serf. 24, Lucull. 8 ; Oros. vi. 2.)

3. P. varius, defrauded Caecilius, the uncle of Atticus, of a large sum of money. (Cic. ad Att. i. 1.)

4. Q. varius, one of the witnesses against Verres. (Cic. Verr. ii. 48.)

5. P. varius, a judex at the trial of Milo, had been ill-treated by P. Clodius. (Cic. pro Mil. 27.)

VARIUS CCyTYLA. [cotyla.]

VARIUS LTGUR. [ligur.]

VARIUS MARCELLUS. [marcellus.]

L. VA'RIUS RUFUS, one of the most dis­tinguished poets of the Augustan age, the com­panion and friend of Virgil and Horace. By the latter he is placed in the foremost rank among the epic bards, and Quintilian has pronounced that his tragedy of Thyestes might stand a comparison with any production of the Grecian stage. But notwith­standing the high fame which he enjoyed among his contemporaries, and which was confirmed by the deliberate judgment of succeeding ages, there is scarcely any ancient author of celebrity concern­ing whose personal history we are more completely ignorant. We cannot determine the date of his birth, nor of his death, nor are we acquainted with r*ny of the leading events of his career. This has arisen partly from the absolute silence of those from whom we might reasonably have hoped to glean some information, partly from the circum­stance that he upon no occasion mingled in the business of public life, and partly from the confu­sion which prevails in MSS. between the names Varius^ Farro, and Varus, the last especially being an appellation borne by several remarkable personages both political and literary towards the downfal of the republic, and under the early em­perors. If we dismiss mere fanciful conjectures the sum total of our actual knowledge may be ex­pressed in a very few words.

1. We may conclude with certainty that he was senior to Virgil. This seems to be proved by the well-known lines of Horace (Sat. i. 10. 44),

" forte epos acer

Ut nemo Varius ducit: molle atque facetum Virgilio adnuerimt gaudentes rure Camoeriae,"

for from these we may at once infer that Varius had already established hjs reputation in heroic song while Virgil was known only as a pastoral -bard.


2. He enjoyed the friendship of Maecenas from a very early period, since it was to.the recommend­ation of Varius in conjunction with that of Virgil, that Horace was indebted for an introduction to the minister, an event which took place not later than b. c. 39, for we know that the three poets accom­panied the great man upon his mission to Brundi-sium b. c. 38.

3. He was alive subsequent to b. c. 19. This cannot be questioned, if we believe the joint testi­mony of Hieronymus (Ckron. Euseb. Olymp. cxc. 4) and Donatus (Vit. Virg. xiv. § 53, 57), who as­sert that Virgil on his death bed appointed Plotius Tucca and Varius his literary executors, and that they revised 'the Aeneid, but in obedience to the strict injunctions of its author made no additions.

It has been supposed from a passage of Horace in the Epistle to Augustus (Hor. Ep. ii. 1. 247), that Varius was dead at the time when it was published, that is, about b. c. 10, but the words do not warrant the conclusion.

The only works by Varius of which any record has been preserved are : —

I. De Morte. Macrobius (Sat. vi. 2) informs us that the eighty-eighth line of Virgil's eighth eclogue was borrowed from a poem by Varius, bearing the singular title De Morte. Hence this production must have been written in heroic verse, and it seems highly probable that the chief subject was a lamentation for the death of Julius Caesar on whose glories, John of Salisbury assures us (Poll-crat. viii. 14), the muse of Varius shed a brilliant lustre. Four fragments have been preserved by Macrobius (Sat. vi. 1, 2), in all of which Varius had been copied or imitated by Virgil. The longest, extending to six lines, contains a descrip­tion of a hound couched in highly spirited and sonorous language.

II. Panegyricus in Caesarem Octavianum, from which Horace, according to the Scholiasts, bor­rowed the lines inserted by him in the sixteenth Epistle of his first book (27, foil.).

" Tene magis salvum populus velit, an populum tu, Servet in ambiguo, qui consul it et tibi et urbi Jupiter."

No other specimen has been preserved.

III. Thyestes. The admiration excited by this drama, the last probably of the works of Varius, was so intense that it seems to have overshadowed the renown which he had previously acquired in epic poetry, and this may account for the omission of his name by Quintilian when enumerating those who had excelled in this department. A strange story grew up and was circulated among the me­diaeval scholiasts, that Varius was not really the author of the Thyestes, but that he stole it, ac­cording to one account (Schol. ad hot. Ep. i. 4. 4), from Cassius of Parma, according to another from Virgil. (Serv. ad Virg. Ed. iii. 20 ; comp. Schol. ad Virg. Ed. vi. 3 ; Donat. Vit. Virg. xx. § 81.) Weichert has with much ingenuity devised a theory to account for the manner in which the mistake arose, but it is scarcely worth while to re­fute a fable which has ever been regarded as ridi­culous. No portion of the tragedy has descended to us except a few words, and one sentence quoted by Marius Victorinus (A. G. p. 2503, ed. Putsch.), which critics have in vain endeavoured to mould into verse. It appears from a Codex rescriptus in the royal library of Paris, of which Schneidewin

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