Grattius

Grattius

Life

Very little is known of Grattius. Ovid mentions him as a contemporary, but he is otherwise not mentioned in any extant sources.

One scholar reportedly saw the name Faliscus attached to Grattius in a now-lost manuscript, though that likely derives from a misunderstanding of Grattius’ words nostris…Faleriis (“our Falerii,” a city in Italy). Faliscus means “one from Falerii,” but any Italian could have used the phrase without implying that they were actually from there. Duff supposed that Grattius might have been from Sicily, since “he mentions (435–36) that he had frequently seen ailing dogs dipped in the bituminous pools of Sicily,” though it is too much to extrapolate from that line that he actually lived there, let alone was from there.

Work

Grattius’ single surviving work is the Cynegetica (or Cynegeticon), a didactic poem in about 540 hexameters on hunting with and the rearing of dogs. Though similarly titled to Xenophon’s Cynegeticus, the poem has more in common with Vergil’s Georgics and Hellenistic poetics and the Augustan program in general. Rather than strictly on the mechanics, Grattius spends quite a few lines on digressions on famous hunters, unusual landscapes or rituals, and a lament for austere living due to excess luxury.

The Cynegetica does not appear to have been overly influential, though some have seen traces of it in the Astronomica and to a lesser extent Nemesianus’ own Cynegetica, though influence on the latter is debatable.

Texts Online

Latin: Phi Latin Texts
Latin: Lacus Curtius

English: Lacus Curtius