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Flaccus, Ver'rius

a freedman by birth, and a distinguished grammarian, in the latter part of the first century B. C.

His reputation as a teacher of grammar, or rather philology, procured him the favour of Augustus, who took him into his household, and entrusted him with the education of his grandsons, Caius and Lucius Caesar. Flaccus lodged in a part of the palace which contained the Atrium Catilinae. This was his lecture-room, where he was allowed to continue his instructions to his former scholars, but not to admit any new pupils, after he became preceptor of the young Caesars. If we receive Ernesti's correction of Suetonius (Octav. 86), it was the pure and percritics spicuous Latinity of Verrius, not Veranius, Flaccus, which Augustus contrasted with the harsh and obsolete diction of Annius Cimber. Flaccus rethe ceived a yearly salary of more than 800l. He died at an advanced age, in the reign of Tiberius.

At the lower end of the market-place at Praeneste was a statue of Verrius Flaccus, fronting the Hemicyclium, on the inner curve of which, so as to be visible to all persons in the forum (Vitr. 5.1), were set up marble tablets, inscribed with the Fasti Verriani. These should be distinguished from the Fasti Praenestini. The latter, like the similar Fasti of Aricium, Tibur, Tusculum, &c. were the townrecords. But the Fasti of Flaccus were a calendar of the days and vacations of public business--dies fasti, nefasti, and intercisi--of religious festivals, triumphs, &c., especially including such as were peculiar to the family of the Caesars. In 1770 the foundations of the Hemicyclium of Praeneste were discovered, and among the ruins were found portions of an ancient calendar, which proved to be fragments of the Fasti Verriani. Further portions were recovered in subsequent excavations, and Foggini, an Italian antiquary, reconstructed from them the entire months of January, March, April, and December, and a small portion of February was afterwards annexed. (Franc. Foggini, Fastorum Ann. Roman. Reliquiae, &c. Rom. 1779, fol. ; and Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Fasti.) They are also given at the end of Wolf's edition of Suetonius, 8vo. Lips. 1802, and in Orelli's Inscriptiones Latinae, vol. ii. p. 379.


Flaccus was an antiquary, an historian, a philologer, and perhaps a poet; at least Priscian (viii. p. 792) ascribes to him an hexameter line, “Blanditusque labor molli curabitur arte.
” It is seldom possible to assign to their proper heads the fragments of his numerous writings. But the following works may be attributed to him:--

An historical collection or compendium, entitled Rerum Memoria Dignarum, of which A. Gellius (4.5) cites the first book for the story of the Etruscan aruspices, who gave perfidious counsel to Rome (Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. i. p. 543).

A History of the Etruscans

Intro. ad Aen. 10.183, 198, ed. Mai; compare also Serv. ad Aen. 7.53, 8.203, 11.143.

A treatise,

(Suet. Ill. Gramm. 17). This work drew upon Flaccus the anger of a rival teacher of philology, Scribonius Aphrodisius, who wrote a reply, and mixed up with the controversy reflections on the learning and character of Flaccus.

Flaccus was also the author of a work en titled Saturnus, or Saturnalia (Macrob. Saturn. 1.4, 8).

on the archaisms used by Cato the Censor : the second book of which is cited by A. Gellius (17.6).

Besides the preceding references, Flaccus is quoted by Gellius (5.17, 18), who refers to the fourth book, De Significatu Verborum, of Flaccus, while discussing the difference between history and annals (see also 16.14, 18.7), and by Macrobius (Saturn. 1.10, 12, 16).

Other citations

Flaccus is cited by Pliny in his Elenchos (H. N. 1), or summary of the materials of his Historia Naturalis, generally (Lib. i. iii. vii. viii. xiv. xv. xviii. xxviii. xxix. xxxiii. xxxiv. xxxv.), and specially, but without distinguishing the particular work of Flaccus which he consulted (H. N. 7.53, s. 54, mortes repentinae; 8.6, elephantos in circo ; 9.23, s. 39, praetextatos muraenarum tergore verberatos ; 18.7, s. 11, far P. Rom. victus; 28.2.4, Deorum evocatio ; 33.3.19, Tarquinii Prisci aurea tunica ; 16, 7.36, Jovis facies minio illita). Flaccus is also referred to by Lactantius (Instit. 1.20), by Arnobius (ad v. Gent. 1.59), and by Isidorus (Orig. 14.8.33).

But the work which more than any other embodies the fragments of an author, whose loss to classical antiquity is probably second only to that of Varro, is the treatise, De Verborum Significatione, of Festus. Festus abridged a work of the same kind, and with probably a similar title, by Verrius Flaccus, from which also some of the extracts in Gellius and Macrobius, and the citations in the later grammarians, Priscianus, Diomedes, Charisius, and Velius Longus, are probably taken. Of this work of Flaccus, a full account is given under FESTUS.

Further Information

Sueton. Ill. Gramm. 17; K. O. Müller, Praefacatio ad Pompeium Festum, Lips. 1839.


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