Calve'na, C. Ma'tius
usually called Matius, without his cognomen Calvena, which he received on account of his baldness, belonged to the equestrian order, and was one of Caesar's most intimate friends.
He was a learned, amiable, and accomplished man; but, through his love of retirement and literature, he took no part in the civil war, and did not avail himself of Caesar's friendship to obtain any public offices in the state. Unlike many, who called themselves the friends of Caesar, he took no part in the conspiracy against his life, but on the contrary was deeply affected by his death.
He immediately espoused the side of Octavianus, with whom he became very intimate ; and at his request, and in memory of his departed friend, he presided over the games which Octavianus exhibited in B. C. 44, on the completion of the temple of Venus Genetrix, in honour of Caesar's victories.
The conduct of Matius excited the wrath of Caesar's murderers; and there is a beautiful letter of his to Cicero (Cic. Fam. 11.28
), in which he justifies his conduct, avows his attachment to Caesar, and deplores his loss.
Matius was also an intimate friend of Cicero and Trebatius. Cicero first speaks of him in a lettér to Trebatius, written in B. C. 52, in which he congratulates the latter upon having become a friend of Matius, whom he calls "suavissimus doctissimusque homo" (ad Fam.
7.15); but Cicero himself had been intimate with him some time before. Matius paid Cicero a visit at his Formian villa in B. C. 49, when he was on his way to join Caesar at Brundusium; and when Cicero returned to Italy after the battle of Pharsalia, in B. C. 48, greatly alarmed at the reception which Caesar might give him, Matius met him at Brundusium, did his best to console him, and promised to exert his influence with Caesar to obtain his pardon. From that time till Caesar's death, Matius and Cicero appear to have seen a good deal of one another; and he is frequently mentioned by Cicero in the period immediately following Caesar's death. (Cic. Att. 9.11
, a., ad Fam.
6.12, ad Att.
14.1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 15.2, 16.11, but the fullest information respecting Matius is in the two letters ad Fam.
Matius' friendship with Caesar is mentioned by Suetonius (Suet. Jul. 52
), and his intimacy with Augustus by Pliny (Plin. Nat. 12.2
, s. 6), who erroneously calls him Cn. Matius, and who speaks of him as alive about 80 years before his time. Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 12.60
) also alludes to the power and influence which Matius possessed.
This C. Matius is in all probability the same as the C. Matius (not Cn. as Gellius calls him), who translated the Iliad
into Latin verse, and was the author of several other works. His version of the Iliad
is first quoted by his contemporary Varro (L. L.
7.95, 96, ed. Müller), and is referred to by A. Gellius (6.6
) and the Latin grammarians. Matius also wrote " Mimiambi," which were as celebrated as his translation of the Iliad
, and were particularly admired for the elegance of the new words which he introduced in them. (Gel. 15.25
.) Matius also paid great attention to economics and agriculture, and wrote a work on the whole art and science of cookery, in three books, which were entitled respectively Cocus, Cetarius, Salgamarius.
(Columella, 12.4, 44.)
It was probably from this Matius that the malum Matianum
derived its name (Plin. Nat. 15.14
; Columella, 5.10, 19; Suet. Dom. 21
; Macrob. Saturn.
2.10; Athen. 3.82
c.), and the Opsonium Matianum,
praised by Apicius (4.3).
(Wernsdorf, Poet. Lat. Min.
vol. iv. p. 568, &c.; Leutsch, in the Zeitschrift für Alterthumswissenschaft,
1834, p. 164, &c.)