Fi'gulus, P. Nigi'dius
a Pythagorean philosopher of high reputation, who flourished about sixty years B. C.
He was so celebrated on account of his knowledge, that Gellius does not hesitate to pronounce him, next to Varro, the most learned of the Romans. Mathematical and physical investigations appear to have occupied a large share of his attention; and such was his fame as an astrologer, that it was generally believed, in later times at least, that he had predicted in the most unambiguous terms the future greatness of Octavianus on hearing the announcement of his birth; and in the Eusebian Chronicle he is styled " Pythagoricus et Magus."
He, moreover, possessed considerable influence in political affairs during the last struggles of the republic; was one of the senators selected by Cicero to take down the depositions and examinations of the witnesses who gave evidence with regard to Catiline's conspiracy, B. C. 63; was praetor in B. C. 59; took an active part in the civil war on the side of Pompey; was compelled in consequence by Caesar to live abroad, and died in exile B. C. 44.
The letter of consolation addressed to him by Cicero (Cic. Fam. 4.13
), which contains a very warm tribute to his learning and worth, is still extant.
A. Gellius, who entertained the strongest admiration for the talents and acquirements of Figulus, says that his works were little studied, and were of no practical value, in consequence of the subtlety and obscurity by which they were characterised ; but the quotations adduced by him (19.14) as specimens scarcely bear out the charge, when we consider the nature of the subject.
The names of the following pieces have been preserved : De Sphaera Barbarica et Graecanica
, De Animalibus
, De Extis
, De Auguriis
, De Ventis
, Commentarii Grammatici
in at least twenty-four books.
The fragments which have survived have been carefully collected and illustrated by Janus Rutgersius in his Variae Lectiones, 3.16.
i., pro Sull. 14, ad Att.
2.2, 7.24, ad Fam.
4.13; Lucan, 1.640
; Suet. Octav.
94 ; D. C. 45.1
; Gel. 4.9
; Hieron. in Chron. Euseb.
Ol. clxxxiv.; Augustin, de Civ. Dei,
5.3; Brucker, Histor. Phil.
vol. ii. p. 24; Burigny, Mém. de l'Académ. Inscrip.,
vol. xxix. p. 190.