People - Ancient Rome
Tibullus in Roman Biography
Ti-bul'lus, [Fr. Tibulle, te'bul'; Ger. Tibull,
te-bdol'; It. Tibullo, te-bool'lo,] (Albius,) a
Roman elegiac poet of the Augustan age, was
bom in Italy about 55 B.C. He was a son of a knight,
(eques,) from whom he inherited an estate between Tibur
and Praeneste. This estate was confiscated in the civil
war, but he recovered a part of it, and passed much
of his life there, enjoying the peaceful pleasures of the
country, of which he was a warm admirer. He was
patronized by Valerius Messala, whom he accompanied
in a campaign in Gaul in 31 B.C. He was an intimate
friend of Horace, who addressed to him an epistle and
an ode, (" Carmina," i. 33.) His character is said to have
been amiable. He wrote amatory elegies addressed to
Delia and Nemesis. His poems are models of graceful
simplicity and genuine tenderness. The best editions
of Tibullus are those published by Lachmann (1829) and
by Dissenus, (or Dissen,) (1 835.) Died about 18 B.C.
See Ayrmann, "Vita Tibulli," 1710 : Degkn, "A. Tibull,"
Die Rbmische Elegie," 1838; Hednkk, "Tibullus.
Propertius et Ovidius," 1841 ; De Golbery,
Tibulli Vita," etc., 1825; "Nouvelle Biographie Generale."
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Tibullus in Wikipedia
Albius Tibullus (ca. 55-19 BC) was a Latin poet and writer of
elegies. Little is known about his life. His first and second
books of poetry are extant; many other texts attributed to
Tibullus are of questionable origins. There are only a few
references to him in later writers and a short Life of
doubtful authority. His praenomen is not known, nor is his
birthplace and his gentile name has been questioned. His
status was probably that of a Roman knight (so the Life
affirms); and he had inherited a considerable estate. But,
like Virgil, Horace and Propertius, he seems to have lost most
of it in 41 BC amongst the confiscations of Mark Antony and
Tibullus, Albius in Harpers Dictionary
a Roman elegiac poet of equestrian family. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he died young, soon after
Vergil. His birth is therefore placed by conjecture B.C. 54, and his death B.C. 19. Of his youth and education
absolutely nothing is known. The estate belonging to the equestrian ancestors of Tibullus was at Pedum, between
Tibur and Praenesté. This property, like that of the other great poets of the day, Vergil and Horace, had been
either entirely or partially confiscated during the Civil Wars; yet Tibullus retained or recovered part of it,
perhaps through Messalla, and spent there the better portion of his short, but peaceful and happy, life (Tib. i.
1, 19; cf. Plin. Ep. i. 4, 7). When his friend and patron, Messalla, was going to his prefecture in Asia, B.C.
30, Tibullus, after first refusing, eventually agreed to accompany him, but fell ill on the way at Corcyra and
returned thence to Rome (Tib.i. 1; i. 3). Afterwards, in 28, he went to Aquitania with Messalla, who had been
sent by Augustus to suppress a formidable insurrection which had broken out in this province. Part of the glory
of the Aquitanian campaign, which Tibullus celebrates in language of unwonted loftiness, redounds, according to
the poet, to his own fame. He was present at the battle of Atax (Aude in Languedoc), which quelled the Aquitanian
rebellion (Tib. i. 7). So ceased the active life of Tibullus; his remaining history is the chronicle of his
poetry and of the loves which inspired it. The first object of his attachment is celebrated under the poetic name
of Delia: according to Apuleius ( Apol. 10) her real name was Plania. To Delia are addressed the first six
elegies of the first book. The poet's attachment to Delia had begun before he left Rome for Aquitania. But Delia
seems to have been faithless during his absence from Rome. On his return from Corcyra he found her ill, and
attended her with affectionate solicitude (Eleg. i. 5), and hoped to induce her to retire with him into the
country. But first a richer lover appears to have supplanted him with the inconstant Delia, and afterwards there
appears a husband in his way. The second book of elegies is chiefly devoted to a new mistress named Nemesis (cf.
Ovid, Am. iii. 9, 32; Mart. viii. 73, 7). It is probable, though not certain, that this Nemesis is the same as
the Glycera mentioned only by Horace ( Carm. i. 33, 2), who reproves him for dwelling so long in his plaintive
elegies on the "pitiless Glycera."
The poetry of his contemporaries shows Tibullus to have been a gentle and singularly amiable man. To Horace
especially he was an object of warm attachment. Besides the ode which alludes to his passion for Glycera (Hor.
Carm. i. 33), the epistle to Tibullus gives the most full and pleasing view of his poetical retreat, and of his
character; it is written by a kindred spirit. Horace does homage to that perfect purity of taste which
distinguishes the poetry of Tibullus, and he takes pride in the candid but favourable judgment of his own
Satires. The time of Tibullus he supposes to be shared between the finishing his exquisite small poems, which
were to surpass even those of Cassius of Parma, up to that time the models of this kind of composition, and the
enjoyment of the country. Tibullus possessed, according to his friend's notions, all the blessings of life-a
competent fortune, favour with the great, fame, health; and he seemed to know how to enjoy all those blessings.
The first two books alone of the elegies under the name of Tibullus are of undoubted authenticity. The third is
the work of another, a very inferior poet, whether Lygdamus be a real or fictitions name. This poet was much
younger than Tibullus, for he was born in the year of the battle of Mutina, 43. It is probable that he was a less
gifted member of Messalla's literary circle: this connection with the patron of Tibullus might account for his
elegies being confused with the genuine poems of Tibullus. The hexameter poem on Messalla, which opens the fourth
book, is so inferior that, although a successful elegiac poet may have failed when he attempted epic verse, it
cannot readily be ascribed to a writer of the exquisite taste of Tibullus. If it is his, it must be regarded as
an early poem written in an imitative manner, when he was under the full influence of the Alexandrian School. The
smaller elegies of the fourth book have all the inimitable grace and simplicity of Tibullus. With the exception
of the thirteenth (of which some lines are hardly surpassed by Tibullus himself) these poems relate to the love
of a certain Sulpicia , a woman of noble birth, for Cerinthus, the real or fictitious name of a beautiful youth.
Nor is there any improbability in supposing that Tibullus may have written elegies in the name or by the desire
of Sulpicia. If Sulpicia was herself the poetess, she approached nearer to Tibullus than any other writer of
elegies. The first book of elegies alone seems to have been published during the author's life, probably soon
after the triumph of Messalla (B.C. 27). The second book probably did not appear till after the death of
Tibullus. With it may have been published the elegies of his imitator, perhaps his friend and associate in the
society of Messalla, Lygdamus (if that be a real name), i. e. the third book and likewise the fourth, made up of
poems belonging, as it were, to this intimate society of Messalla; the Panegyricus Messallae by some unnamed
author, which, feeble as it is, seems to be of that age; the poems in the name of Sulpicia , with the concluding
one, the thirteenth, a fragment of Tibullus himself. There are editions of Tibullus by Lachmann (Berlin, 1829);
Dissen, 2 vols. (Göttingen, 1835); Bährens (Leipzig, 1878); Hiller, with a good index (Leipzig, 1885); selections
by Ramsay. There is an English verse translation by Cranstoun, with notes (London, 1872). See Sellar's Roman
Poets of the Republic for a good literary estimate of the poet.