Nemesianus Analysis

Life

Nemesianus (neh-mee-zhee-AHN-uhs) was a third century c.e. Roman poet. He is one of the few individuals known as writers during this enigmatic period in Roman literary history. Nemesianus is usually thought to have been a favorite of the emperor Carus and his two sons, Carinus and Numerianus. He is said to have contemplated an epic on their achievements, but no evidence remains of this work. Most of Nemesianus’s poetry was in the form of eclogues (nature poems), of which he wrote at least four. His best-known work, Cynegetica (c. 283 c.e.; The Chase, 1934), is a didactic poem on hunting. About 325 lines of it survive, and scholars have usually considered these lines to be a fragment of the whole work. In 1997, however, in his doctoral dissertation at New York University, David Wondrich suggested that the Cynegetica as it exists may well be complete. Nemesianus also reportedly wrote poems on sailing and fishing. Traditionally, scholars have considered Nemesianus unoriginal, but more recent criticism has emphasized his unique response to the challenges of his time.

Influence

Nemesianus’s work helped maintain Latin literature until its renaissance in the fourth and fifth centuries c.e. He was known, if not particularly read, throughout the Middle Ages.

Additional Resources

Conte, Gian Biagio. Latin Literature: A History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Williams, Heather J. The Eclogues and Cynegetica of Nemesianus. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1986.