[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p209 Introduction
to Calpurnius Siculus

The group of poems consisting of the pastorals by T. Calpurnius Siculus and by Nemesianus, the Laus Pisonis and two short Einsiedeln eclogues1 present a bundle of interconnected and, though baffling, still not uninteresting problems. Certain questions arise at once. On separating the eclogues of Calpurnius from those of Nemesianus, to what dates should one assign their authors? Why did "Calpurnius Siculus" bear these two names? Had he a relationship with C. Calpurnius Piso, the conspirator of A.D. 65, to whom, according to most authorities, the Laus Pisonis was addressed?2 If so, did Calpurnius Siculus write that panegyric in praise of Piso as his patron, and can "Meliboeus," the patron in two Calpurnian eclogues, have been the same Calpurnius Piso? If he was not, was he Seneca, or someone else? Again, can the Einsiedeln eclogues have emanated from the same hand as the Calpurnian eclogues or the Laus Pisonis, or are they products of a school of Neronian poets influenced by a transient passion for pastoral themes, p210to which school M. Hubaux3 has ascribed Catalepton IX bequeathed to us in the Appendix Vergiliana?

To most of these and to several related questions, the most contradictory answers have been given,4 which cannot here be more than lightly touched upon. Since Haupt in his classic essay of 1854, De carminibus bucolicis Calpurnii et Nemesiani, divided,5 on principles of style, the eleven eclogues which had often passed together under the name of Calpurnius Siculus into seven by him and the remaining four by Nemesianus, there has been no serious doubt about the gap in date between the two sets. Indeed, attention to certain subscriptiones and headings in the manuscripts (including a tell-tale blunder in Riccardianus 363, Titi Calphurnii Bucolicum carmen ad Nemesianum Karthaginiensem)6 ought to have led to an earlier separation of the poems by all editors. In any case, it is now generally agreed that Calpurnius Siculus belongs to the Neronian age and the p211eclogues of Nemesianus to the author of the Cynegetica in the third century A.D. Features of style and of metre, like the preservation of length in final ‑o and a paucity of elision, clearly distinguish the verse of Calpurnius from that of Nemesianus,7 imitator of Calpurnius Siculus though he was. Some of the decisive points in favour of the Neronian date for Calpurnius consist in such allusions as those to the comet 54 A.D. (I.77‑83), to the wooden amphitheatre 57 A.D. (VII.23‑24), and to the young prince of golden promise, handsome, eloquent, divine,8 who can be identified with no one so aptly as with Nero at the outset of his reign.

About the poet's name there is no means of determining whether it argues a relationship with the C. Calpurnius Piso to whom it is usually thought that Laus Pisonis was addressed. One hypothesis suggests that he might have been a son of one of Piso's freedmen. Certainty is equally unattainable as to the meaning of the epithet "Siculus": it may indicate Sicilian origin in the geographical sense, but it may just as well record the literary debt of the eclogues to Theocritus. "Meliboeus," the patron in Calpurnius Siculus' first and fourth eclogues, is drawn as an actual personage in a position enabling him to recommend the author's verses to the emperor, and skilled in poetry and weather-lore. Sarpe's contention that this fits Seneca as the writer of tragedies and of the Naturales Quaestiones remains, on the whole, more plausible than the theory once maintained by Haupt and Schenkl, that the patron is the versatile Calpurnius Piso himself. p212On the foundation of this latter theory was built the guess that the Laus Pisonis was the work of Calpurnius Siculus. But there is no consensus of opinion about the identification of "Meliboeus." While some have supposed him to represent Seneca or Calpurnius Piso, others have seen in him Columella9 or M. Valerius Messala Corvinus,10 consul with Nero in 58 A.D.: others still have dismissed all such identifications as sheer caprice. There is no more certainty about the two Einsiedeln eclogues. As the conjecture that they were composed by Piso11 is countered with equal readiness to believe that Calpurnius wrote them,12 discretion will acknowledge that there is not enough evidence to prove more than that they belong to the same literary environment as the Calpurnian poems.

The arrangement of the eclogues of Calpurnius does not follow the chronological order of composition. The four more strictly rural poems preceded in time the three which may be called "courtly" in virtue of their praises of the emperor (I, IV, VII): some, indeed, may have been written before Nero succeeded to the purple. There is much to be said for Haupt's suggested order of writing, namely, that the earliest and least finished is III, the quarrel with Phyllis, which Scaliger considered an unamusing piece of clownishness; next, VI, a singing-match broken off by the umpire owing to the competitors' loss of temper — a weakish imitation of Theocritus IV and V and of Virgil's third eclogue; II, somewhat p213after the manner of Virgil's seventh eclogue, the amoebean praises of the pretty Crocale by two rivals, a herd and a gardener; and V, the aged Micon's expert advice to a young rustic on the management of flocks, based on Georgics III.295‑456. The three "courtly" poems, I, IV, VII, were written after these four and placed at the beginning, middle and end of the collection. In eclogue I, roughly modelled on Virgil's "Messianic" eclogue, the tuneful shepherds are imagined to discover a prophecy by Faunus heralding a renewal of the Golden Age under a new "Prince Charming," and they hope their poetry may reach the imperial ears through the good offices of their patron Meliboeus; in IV, the longest of the seven, hopes are expressed that the poetic eulogies on the emperor will be recommended to his majesty by Meliboeus, and it is indicated that some success has been already gained through his patronage; finally, in VII Corydon, newly back to the country from Rome, relates to Lycotas his impressions of the amphitheatre and of the handsome emperor.

Another feature of the arrangement may be noted. Eclogues II, IV, VI are amoebean in form, and are sandwiched between eclogues which are not verse-dialogues in structure. In thought and manner, though there are, as we have seen, contemporary allusions, the pervasive influence is that of Virgil, and in a less degree that of Theocritus. The style also owes something to Ovid. Without being in the least deeply poetic, and in spite of the artificiality inherent in pastorals, the eclogues of Calpurnius breathe a rural atmosphere which makes them pleasant to read. Historically, they pass on the Virgilian tradition to Nemesianus.

p214 Editions
(The Eclogues of Calpurnius with those of Nemesianus.)

C. Schweynheim and A. Pannartz: with Silius Italicus) eleven Eclogae under name of C. Calpurnius. Rome, 1471.

A. Ugoletus. Calpurnii Siculi et Nemesiani bucolica. Parma, circ. 1490. [For this edition Angelus Ugoletus used the codex of Thadeus Ugoletus: see infra under A in "Sigla."]

G. Logus. In edn. containing Poetae tres Egregii. Aldus, Venice, 1534.

P. Burman. Poet. Lat. Minores I. Leyden, 1731.

J. C. Wernsdorf in Poet. Lat. Minores, Vol. II. Altenburg, 1780. [Wernsdorf gives an introductory essay and account of earlier editions.]

C. D. Beck. Recogn. annot. et gloss. instr. Leipzig, 1803.

C. E. Glaeser. Calp. et Nemes. . . . recensuit. Göttingen, 1842. [Glaeser's edn. made an advance in preferring the Codex Neapolitanus to the MSS. of the second group.]

E. Baehrens. In Poet. Lat. Minores III. Leipzig, 1881.

H. Schenkl. Calp. et Nemes. bucol. rec. Leipzig, 1885.

–––––. Re-edited in J. P. Postgate's Corp. Poet. Lat., Vol. II. London, 1905.

C. H. Keene. The Eclogues of Calpurnius Siculus and M. Aur. Olymp. Nemesianus (introd., comment.). London, 1887.

p215 C. Giarratano. Calpurnii et Nemesiani Bucolica. Naples, 1910.

–––––. Calpurnii et Nemesiani Bucolica. Turin, 1924.

English Translation

E. J. L. Scott. The Eclogues of Calpurnius (the seven in octosyll. verse). London, 1890.

Relevant Works

G. Sarpe. Quaestiones philologicae. Rostock, 1819. [Argues that "Meliboeus" = Seneca.]

M. Haupt. De Carminibus bucolicis Calpurnii et Nemesiani. Berlin, 1854. [Argues that "Meliboeus" = Calpurnius Piso.]

F. Chytil. Der Eklogendichter bucolicis T. Calpurnius Siculus und seine Vorbilder. Znaim, 1894. [Identifies "Meliboeus" with Columella.]

F. Skutsch. Art. Calpurnius Siculus. P. W. Realencycl. col. 1401 sqq. 1899.

G. Ferrara. Calpurnio Siculo e il Panegirico a Calpurnio Pisone. Pavia, 1905.

Clementina Chiavola. Della vita e dell' opera di Tito Calpurnio Siculo. Ragusa, 1921.

J. Wight Duff. A Literary History of Rome in the Silver Age, pp330‑338. London, 1927.

J. Hubaux. Les thèmes bucoliques dans la poésie latine. Brussels, 1930.

E. Cesareo. La poesia di Calpurnio Siculo. Palermo, 1931.

p216 Sigla
Used by H. Schenkl in Postgate's C. P. L.

The Best Group of MSS.

N = Neapolitanus 380, end of 14th cent. or beginning of 15th.

G = Gaddianus 90, 12 in Laurentian Library, Florence: 15th cent. [Akin to N, but somewhat inferior.]13

A = Nicolaus Angelius' readings from the now lost MS. brought by Thadeus Ugoletus from Germany: they were entered in the year 1492 on the margin of codex Riccardianus 363 at Florence.

H = Readings in codex Harleianus 2578, 16th cent., apparently from a manuscript of Boccaccio's or the manuscript of Ugoletus.

Inferior MSS.

V = "vulgaris notae libri," of 15th or 16th cent. and interpolated. [Schenkl divides them into two classes:—

v= the slightly better;

w= the worst.

Giarratano dislikes Schenkl's subdivision into v and w.]

p217 An Intervening Group

P = Parisinus 8049, 12th cent.; only reaches Ecl. IV.12.

Exc. Par. = Extracts from Calpurnius and Nemesianus in two florilegia, liber Parisinus 7647, 12th cent., and liber Parisinus 17903, 13th cent.

[The texts of H. Schenkl and of Giarratano have been taken into account in determining the readings adopted.]

Bibliographical addendum (1982)

Hirtengedichte aus neronischer Zeit (with the Einsiedeln Eclogues), Latin with German translation, by D. Korzeniewski, Darmstadt 1971.

Thayer's Note: The Bibliographical addendum remains under copyright (© Harvard University Press 1982). It is so brief as surely to fall under fair use.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 For these other poems see pp289‑315, pp319‑335, and pp451‑485 in this volume.

2 See Introduction to the Panegyric on Piso, p289.

3 In Les thèmes bucoliques dans la poésie latine, Brussels, 1930.

4 For a résumé of the different hypotheses, see Groag, "C. Calpurnius Piso," P. W. Realencycl. III (1899); Skutsch, "T. Calpurnius Siculus," ibid.; Schanz, Gesch. der röm. Literatur, II.2; Clementina Chiavola, Della vita . . . di Tito Calpurnio Siculo, 1921.

5 Haupt was the first to make clear the Neronian date of Calpurnius' seven eclogues; but the Aldine edition of 1534 prints the two sets separately — in fact Nemesiani Bucolica precede Calpurnii Siculi Bucolica.

6 This confusion, which quite impossibly makes Nemesianus contemporary with Calpurnius, may be due either to a misreading of a double manuscript title, giving the names of both poets at the beginning of the eclogues, or to a corruption of words separating the two collections finis bucolicorum Calphurnii Aurelii Nemesiani poetae Carthaginiensis egloga prima.

7 Birt, Ad historiam hexametri Latini symbola, Bonn, 1877, 63.

8 See I.42‑45, 84‑88; IV.84‑87, 137; VII.6, 83‑84.

9 Chytil, Der Eklogendichter T. Calp. Siculus, Znaim, 1894.

10 Hubaux, op. cit.

11 Groag, "Calp. Piso" in P. W. Realencycl.

12 Hubaux, op. cit.

13 Baehrens, the first collator of G, inclined to overvalue it: Schenkl, on the other hand, perhaps overvalued N. Giarratano pleads for a fair estimate of the merits of G, even if N is on the whole the better manuscript.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 29 Aug 12