previous next

M. Terentius Varro, B.C. 116-28.

There are some rather interesting letters to the famous M. TERENTIUS VARRO.1 They do not, indeed, possess the charm of the more open and impulsive letters addressed to some others. Cicero, I think, was afraid of Varro's great learning and critical disposition. He envied, while he could not copy, the calmness with which he went on with his old pursuits in the midst of political troubles: "I consider the time you spent at Tusculum," he says to him, "a specimen of true life: and I would with pleasure resign all the wealth in the world on condition of being allowed, without the interruption of violence, to live a life like yours."2 But the two men were not really sympathetic. Varro's learning was encyclopaedic, and his industry must have been immense: but he neither possessed nor cared to possess any graces of style; and probably regarded Cicero's popular tracts on philosophy with little respect. Cicero was anxious to be introduced into one of his dialogues, or to be named in the dedication of one of his treatises, but that compliment which he had been promised had never been paid to him, and it was with considerable trepidation that he dedicated to Varro his own Academics. Varro himself, who had been in Pompey's army in Epirus, had easily obtained his pardon from Caesar, and had been employed in collecting a great public library. He appears to have entirely abstained from politics after that. His being placed on the list of the proscribed in B.C. 43-42 was probably owing to Antony, who, having plundered his villa at Casinum, had been forced to make restitution,3 and probably had quarrelled with him. He however escaped, and survived all the leading men of the Civil War, dying in B.C. 28.

1 See pp.65, 73-78, 82, 86, 304.

2 P. 88

3 2 Phil. §§ 103, 104.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: