), a freedman of Pompey the Great and of Sextus Pompeius. Appian calls him MENODORUS (Μηνόδωρος
), a name which he may not improbably have taken on his manumission. (See Dyer in the Classical Museum,
vol. ii. p. 218.) In B. C. 40, Sextus Pompeius, being then in alliance with Antony against Octavian, sent out Menas with a large squadron of ships and four legions, with which he took Sardinia, and gained over two legions that were stationed there. Sardinia was soon after recaptured by Helenus, a favourite freedman of Octavian's; but Menas, in the same year (B. C. 40), was again entrusted by Sextus with a fleet to carry on operations against Octavian and Antony, who had just been reconciled to one another; and in this expedition he ravaged the Etrurian coast, and once more gained possession of Sardinia; but, wishing to secure a refuge in the protection of Octavian should circumstances make it desirable, he sent back to him Helenus and several other prisoners without ransom. In B. C. 39 he tried in vain to dissuade his master from concluding a peace with Octavian and Antony; and, at an entertainment given to them by Sextus on board his ship at Misenum, Menas suggested to him to cut the cables of the vessel, and, running it out to sea, despatch both his rivals.
The treacherous proposal, however, was rejected by Pompeius. (D. C. 48.30. 36
; Appian, App. BC 5.56
; Plut. Ant. 32
; Veil. Paterc. 2.73, 77.) Meanwhile Pompey's suspicions of the fidelity of Menas had been excited by his dismissal of Helenus and his communication with Octavian, and had been further fomented by the representations of certain persons who were envious of his power in Sardinia.
He therefore sent for him early in B. C. 38, on pretence of requiring an account of the provisions and money which he had had to administer. But Menas put all the messengers to death, and covenanted with Octavian to surrender to him the island, together with the whole force, military and naval, under his command. Octavian gladly embraced his offer, and not only refused to give him up, according to Dion, on the application of Sextus, but treated him with great distinction, advanced him to the equestrian order, and, investing him with the authority of legate under Calvisius Sabinus, placed him in command of the ships which he had himself brought over.
In this capacity he was engaged in the naval campaign towards the end of B. C. 38, which was on the whole disastrous to Octavian, but in which Menas did good service, and, through his skilful seamanship, saved the ships entrusted to him from destruction by a storm which shattered a great portion of the fleet. (D. C. 48.45
; Appian, App. BC 5.77
.) Just before the re-commencement of hostilities between Sextus and Octavian, in B. C. 36, Menas again played the deserter, and returned to his old master's service, not only because the last campaign may have given him reason to think that the stronger side, but also because he was indignant at having merely a subordinate command assigned to him.
In the operations which ensued, he gained some advantages over the enemies' ships; and having raised an impression that, formidable as an opponent, he might be equally useful as an ally, he again revolted to Octavian, being especially offended at not having been reinstated in his former command by Pompeius, under whose suspicion he felt uneasy. Octavian received him gladly, but continued to regard him with distrust. In B. C. 35 he accompanied his patron on his expedition to the north-eastern coast of the Adriatic, and was slain in the Pannonian campaign at the siege of Siscia. (D. C. 48.54
; Appian, App. BC 5.96
According to the old scholiasts, the person so vehemently attacked by Horace in his fourth epode was no other than the subject of the present article.
This statement has been called in question by many modern commentators; but their arguments, drawn exclusively from internal evidence, are far from satisfactory.
The discussion of the point is, in this place, impossible, connected as it is with the vexata question of the chronology of the poems of Horace. For the literature of the subject, see above, Vol. II. p. 522, and comp. Classical Museum,
vol. ii. pp. 207-209, 217-221.