Titus Calpurnius Siculus Analysis

Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

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.

Influence

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Although Calpurnius’s praise of Nero may strike the modern reader as being unexpected or unacceptable, his poetry is nevertheless interesting as providing a glance at how his contemporaries viewed Nero.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Duff, J. Wight, and Arnold M. Duff. Minor Latin Poets. Vol. 1. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982.

Pearce, James B. The Eclogues of Calpurnius Siculus, with an Introduction, Commentary, and Vocabulary. San Antonio, Tex.: Scylax Press, 1990.