Calpurnius Siculus

Calpurnius Siculus

Life

Titus Calpunius Siculus was a bucolic poet of the Neronian age. Nothing else is known about him, though some have tried to link him to (or tried to claim that he was) C. Calpurnius Piso, the infamous Roman put to death by Nero for instigating the so-called “Pisonian Conspiracy.” While his cognomen is likely a reference to his poetical forebears (Theocritus’ Eclogues essentially founded the genre), “Calpurnius” was a very common name, and any link between the two is highly speculative.

Works

The soles works of Calpurnius are his seven  Eclogues in hexameters. The Eclogues feature the familiar blend (as established by Vergil and Theocritus before him) of the idyllic countryside and their inhabitants with court poetry expressing hope and thanks to royal patronage. Though he does not name him outright, the new “golden age” administered by a charming young and intellectual prince matches Nero’s first five years (his quinquennial), which were widely admired and praised.

He speaks of a patron, Meliboeus, though the identity of this person remains a mystery. Some have tried to link him to Seneca or the aforementioned Calpurnius Piso, but like much surrounding this poet, the hypothesis remains unproved and unprovable.

Similarly, others have tried to link Calpurnius Siculus to the Laus Pisonis, which heaped praise on Calpurnius Piso, and the Einsieldeln Eclogues, though again these ideas remain speculation.

Texts Online

Latin: Phi Latin Texts

Latin and English: Lacus Curtius

Books and Articles

  1. Evangelos Karakasis 2016. T. Calpurnius Siculus: A Pastoral Poet in Neronian Rome. Berlin: De Gruyter.