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Varius Rufus, Lucius

A celebrated Roman poet whose poetical career began in the later days of the Republic. Like his younger friend Vergil, he was much honoured and appreciated by Augustus and Maecenas, to whom he also introduced his friend Horace. Vergil, at his death, in B.C. 19, left him and Plotius Tucca his literary remains, and Augustus intrusted to them the revision and publication. (See Vergilius.) He died before the year B.C. 12. At the opening of the Augustan era he was the most conspicuous of the Latin epic poets; but he obtained his greatest reputation by his tragedy Thyestes, which, with the Medea of Ovid, was considered the greatest effort of Roman literature in this department. The work was brought out at the games held in honour of the victory at Actium B.C. 29, and was rewarded by Augustus with an honorarium of a million sesterces ($40,000). Of this, as of his epic poems (on the death of Caesar and panegyric on Augustus), only a few verses survive.

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