Silius Italĭcus, Gaius
(for the name, see C. I. L.
vi. 1984). A Roman poet, born about A.D. 25.
He acquired great reputation as an advocate, and was afterwards one of the centumviri.
He was consul in 68, the year in which Nero perished; he was admitted to familiar intercourse
with Vitellius, and was subsequently proconsul of Asia. In his seventy-fifth year, in
consequence of the pain caused by an incurable disease, he starved himself to death in the
house once occupied by Vergil (Pliny , Epist.
iii. 7). The great work of Silius
Italicus was a heroic poem in seventeen books, entitled Punica
, which has
descended to us entire, having been discovered by Poggio Bracciolini
(q.v.) in 1416. The poem contains about 14,000 lines. Its
opposing heroes are Scipio and Hannibal, and it deals with the Second Punic War in a spirit
slavishly imitative of Vergil, to whom, by the way, he owed his estate at Naples. He also
draws many ideas from the Homeric poems. The editio princeps
1471. Silius is edited by Ernesti (Leipzig, 1791)
; Ruperti, reprinted by Lemaire
; and Bauer (Leipzig, 1890)
. See Heynacher, Die
Quellen des Silius
, 2 pts. (Ilfeld, 1874-77)
; Franke, De
Silii Punicorum Tropis (Münster, 1889)
; Occioni, Silio
Italico e il suo Poema (2d ed. Florence, 1871)
; and Groesst,
Quatenus Silius Italicus a Vergilio Pendere Videatur (Halle,
. Silius is now regarded as also the author of the metrical abridgment of the
, usually cited under the name of “Homerus Latinus”
or “Pindarus Thebanus.” See Pindarus
, in the Appendix.