All that we know of Titus Calpurnius Siculus’s (TI-tuhs kal-PUR-nee-uhs sihk-yuh-luhs) life comes from his poetry and, possibly, his name. His references to a young emperor with artistic pretensions indicate that Calpurnius wrote during the reign of Nero (54-68 c.e.). Possibly, his name, Siculus (“Sicilian”), refers to Calpurnius’s place of origin. Some, however, regard it as alluding to his poetic predecessor, the Greek bucolic poet Theocritus of Syracuse, who was from Sicily; also, Siculus could allude to the Sicilian setting of some of Vergil’s Eclogues (43-37 b.c.e.; also known as Bucolics; English translation, 1575), Calpurnius’s direct model within Latin literature.
Calpurnius Siculus is known for seven bucolic or pastoral poems known as Eclogues (n.d.; “Ecologues of Calpurnius,” in Minor Latin Poets, 1982). Number 1 contains a prophecy of a new golden age, number 4 compares the current emperor to Apollo, and number 7 refers to establishment of a new amphitheater by the emperor. Interspersed among these poems, the remainder, numbers 2, 3, 5, and 6, have more general pastoral themes.