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
), and two praetextae.
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)