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Marcus Terentius Varro

For others named Terentius Varro, see Varro (cognomen).

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC) was an ancient Roman scholar and writer. He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.

Contents

  • Biography 1
  • Calendars 2
  • Works 3
    • Extant works 3.1
    • Known lost works 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Biography

Varro was born in or near Reate (now Rieti) to a family thought to be of equestrian rank, and always remained close to his roots in the area, owning a large farm in the Reatine plain, reported as near Lago di Ripa Sottile, until his old age. Politically, he supported Pompey, reaching the office of praetor, after having been tribune of the people, quaestor and curule aedile. He was one of the commission of twenty that carried out the great agrarian scheme of Caesar for the resettlement of Capua and Campania (59 BC).

During the civil war he commanded one of Pompey's armies in the Ilerda campaign. He escaped the penalties of being on the losing side in the civil war through two pardons granted by Julius Caesar, before and after the Battle of Pharsalus. Caesar later appointed him to oversee the public library of Rome in 47 BC, but following Caesar's death Mark Antony proscribed him, resulting in the loss of much of his property, including his library. As the Republic gave way to Empire, Varro gained the favour of Augustus, under whose protection he found the security and quiet to devote himself to study and writing.

Varro studied under the Roman philologist

  • Works by Marcus Terentius Varro at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Marcus Terentius Varro at Internet Archive
  • Works by Marcus Terentius Varro at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • de Re Rustica (Latin and English at LacusCurtius)
  • by R.G.KentDe Linga LatinaLinks to translation of
  • Livius.org: Varronian chronology
  • thelatinlibrary.com: Latin works of Varro

External links

  1. ^ a b Lindberg, David (2007). The Beginnings of Western Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 137.  
  2. ^ Harrison, Fairfax (1918). "Note Upon the Roman Agronomists". Roman Farm Management. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 1–14 [10]. 
  3. ^ 2,000 Years of Changing Perspectives on Malaria: 2,000 Years of Changing Perspectives on Malaria, accessdate: September 9, 2015

References

Most of the extant fragments of these works (mostly the grammatical works) can be found in the Goetz–Schoell edition of De Lingua Latina, pp. 199–242; in the collection of Wilmanns, pp. 170–223; and in that of Funaioli, pp. 179–371.

  • Saturarum Menippearum libri CL or Menippean Satires in 150 books
  • Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum libri XLI
  • Logistoricon libri LXXVI
  • Hebdomades vel de imaginibus
  • Disciplinarum libri IX (An encyclopedia on the liberal arts, of which the first book dealt with grammar)
  • De rebus urbanis libri III (or On Urban Topics in Three Books)
  • De gente populi Romani libri IIII (cf. Augustine, 'De civitate dei' xxi. 8.)
  • De sua vita libri III (or On His Own Life in Three Books)
  • De familiis troianis (or On the Families of Troy)
  • De Antiquitate Litterarum libri II (addressed to the tragic poet Lucius Accius; it is therefore one of his earliest writings)
  • De Origine Linguae Latinae libri III (addressed to Pompey; cf. Augustine, 'De civitate dei' xxii. 28.)
  • Περί Χαρακτήρων (in at least three books, on the formation of words)
  • Quaestiones Plautinae libri V (containing interpretations of rare words found in the comedies of Plautus)
  • De Similitudine Verborum libri III (on regularity in forms and words)
  • De Utilitate Sermonis libri IIII (on the principle of anomaly or irregularity)
  • De Sermone Latino libri V (?) (addressed to Marcellus, on orthography and the metres of poetry)
  • De philosophia (cf. Augustine, 'De civitate dei' xix. 1.)

Known lost works

  • De lingua latina libri XXV (or On the Latin Language in 25 Books, of which six books (V–X) survive, partly mutilated)
  • Rerum rusticarum libri III (or Agricultural Topics in Three Books)
Plan of the birdhouse at Casinum designed and built by Varro

Extant works

"... there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, but which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and cause serious diseases." . I.12.2)R.R( magazine, Royal Society of Chemistry, March 2014 issue, p. 3)The Mole([3]

One noteworthy aspect of the work is his anticipation of microbiology and epidemiology. Varro warned his contemporaries to avoid swamps and marshland, since in such areas

His only complete work extant, Rerum Rusticarum Libri Tres (Three Books on Agriculture), has been described as "the well digested system of an experienced and successful farmer who has seen and practised all that he records."[2]

Varro's literary output was prolific; Columella, Aulus Gellius, Macrobius, Augustine, and Vitruvius, who credits him (VII.Intr.14) with a book on architecture.

Works

The compilation of the Varronian chronology was an attempt to determine an exact year-by-year timeline of Roman history up to his time. It is based on the traditional sequence of the consuls of the Roman Republic — supplemented, where necessary, by inserting "dictatorial" and "anarchic" years. It has been demonstrated to be somewhat erroneous but has become the widely accepted standard chronology, in large part because it was inscribed on the arch of Augustus in Rome; though that arch no longer stands, a large portion of the chronology has survived under the name of Fasti Capitolini.

Fasti Antiates Maiores, an inscription containing the Roman calendar. This calendar predates the Julian reform of the calendar; it contains the months Quintilis and Sextilis, and allows for the insertion of an intercalary month

Calendars

[1] Varro decided to focus on identifying nine of these arts: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, musical theory, medicine, and architecture. Using Varro's list, subsequent writers defined the seven classical "liberal arts of the medieval schools".[1]

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