a Roman poet of the Augustan age, of whose life no particulars have come down to us. We may, however, conclude from his surname, Marsus, that he or his ancestors belonged to the Marsian nation, and were adopted bv the noble house of the Domitii.
He survived Tibullus, who died B. C. 18, and on whom he wrote a beautiful epitaph, which is still extant : his works were therefore probably written about the same time that Horace was in his greatest glory, although he is not mentioned by the latter poet.
The year in which Marsus died is uncertain : whether he was alive at the time of Ovid's banishment (A. D. 9) we do not know, but he appears to have been dead when Ovid wrote his elegies in exile. (Ex Pont.
Marsus wrote poems of various kinds, but his epigrams were the most celebrated of his productions. Hence he is frequently mentioned by Martial, who speaks of him in terms of the highest admiration, and from whose incidental notices we learn that the epigrams of Marsus were distinguished for their licentiousness and wit, and also for the severity of their satire. (Mart. 2.71
It was in consequence of their last characteristic that one of the books was entitled Citca,
a few lines of which have been preserved by the scholiast Philargyrius (ad Viry. Ed.
iii, 90). Besides these epigrams and the epitaph on Tibullus, which has been already mentioned, and which will be found in most of the editions of Tibullus, Marsus also wrote epic poetry, as appears from the fact that Ovid (Ov. Pont. 4.16. 5
) classes him with the epic poet Rabirius, and that Martial (4.28
) mentions a poem of Marsus called Amazonis.
Marsus likewise wrote some erotic elegies, which probably bore the title of Melaenis
(comp. Mart. 7.29
), and a collection of fables, the ninth book of which is cited by the grammarian Charisius.
All that is known of Domitius Marsus is collected and elucidated at great length by Weichert in his treatise De Donitio Marso Poeta,
Grimmae, 1828, republished in his Poetarum Latin. Reliquiae,
pp. 241-269, Lips. 1830.