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The creator of the Roman satire. He was born at Suessa Auruncorum, B.C. 180, of good family; served in the Numantine War in Spain, under Scipio; and, returning to Rome, lived on familiar terms with that general and with his friend Laelius ( Hor.Sat. ii. 1). He was the maternal uncle or (less probably) the maternal grandfather of Pompey the Great. He died at Naples, B.C. 103.

It was Lucilius that first developed the satira, which had before his time been a name applied to miscellaneous verse (see Satira) into the form in which it is afterwards found in Horace, Persius, and Juvenal. He boldly and even fiercely assailed the faults of living contemporaries (Hor. Sat. i. 4, 6; i. 10, 1; Pers. i. 114; Juv. i. 165). Horace criticises him for the carelessness and haste with which he wrote, and which always left something to be desired.
“Cum flueret lutulentus, erat quod tollere velles.”

Of his thirty books of satires, some 300 lines are preserved in a fragmentary state, giving us but a slight clue to his style and method; yet it is evident that he was a boldly original, almost eccentric, genius. He affected a cosmopolitanism unusual in a Roman of his time. “I write for the people of Cosentia and Tarentum and Sicily,” he says; and his Latin is liberally interlarded with Greek in a macaronic fashion. His vocabulary, in fact, is a very unusual one, abounding in strange words, disgusting expressions, and plebeian forms.

The fragments are collected by L. Müller (Leipzig, 1872); Lachmann and Vahlen (Berlin, 1876); and Bährens (Leipzig, 1886). See also L. Müller's Leben und Werke des Gaius Lucilius (Leipzig, 1876); and for the language, Fischer, De Vocibus Lucilianis (Halle, 1881).


Lucilius Iunior. Probably the author of a poem entitled Aetna(q. v.). He was procurator of Sicily and a friend of Seneca the philosopher, who addresses to him his Epistolae, Quaestiones Naturales, and his De Providentia.

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  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Horace, Satires, 1.10
    • Horace, Satires, 1.4
    • Horace, Satires, 2.1
    • Persius, Saturae, 1
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