A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

surnamed SICULUS, a Roman pastoral poet.

The author is generally believed to have lived towards the end of the third century, and the person to whom the work is addressed is supposed to be the Aurelius Olympius Nemesianus whose poem on hunting is still extant. It will be found, however, upon a careful investigation of authorities, that we not only know nothing whatsoever with regard to the personal history of Calpurnius, but that every circumstance connected with his name, his age, his works, and his friends, is involved in obscurity and doubt. In several MSS. he is designated as

Titus, in others as Caius, in a great number the praenomen is altogether wanting, while the only evidence for the determination of the epoch when he flourished rests upon the gratuitous assumption that he is identical with the Junius or Julius Calpurnius commemorated by Vopiscus in the life of Carus. In like manner we are left in uncertainty whether we ought to consider the term Siculus as a cognomen, or as an appellation pointing out his native country, or as an epithet bestowed upon him because he cultivated the same style of composition with the Syracusan Theocritus. Some have sought to prove, from internal evidence, that, like the Mantuan bard, he was raised from a humble station by the favour of some exalted patron, but this hypothesis receives no support from the passages referred to, and those who have attempted in a similar manner to ascertain the precise epoch when he flourished have arrived at conflicting conclusions. Even if the dedication to Nemesianus is genuine, and this is far from certain, it does not necessarily follow, that this must be the same Nemesianus who was contemporary with Numerianus.