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Attius, Lucius

An early Roman poet of distinction, who forms a link between the ante-classical and classical periods of Latin literature; for Cicero, when a boy, had met him, and in after-life admired his verse. Attius was, like Horace, the son of a freedman, settled at Pisaurum. He began his career with a tragedy, the Atreus, and was the author of thirty-six more, besides Annales in hexameter verse, a history of Greek and Roman poetry (Didascalia), and two praetextae. His literary characteristics are dignity, vigour, and much rhetorical skill in the choice of words. Considerable fragments of his works remain to us, and can be found in Ribbeck's Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta (Leipzig, 1874); and L. Müller's Lucilius (1872). He is the author of the famous maxim of the tyrant, Oderint dum metuant, quoted by Cicero. He is said to have introduced some changes into the received forms of spelling, such as doubling the vowels when long, as in modern Dutch—thus aara, vootum. He died B.C. 94. See Boissier, Le Poète Attius (Paris, 1857).

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