There is almost no biographical information on Valerius Flaccus. The manuscripts list his name as Gaius Valerius Flaccus Balbus Setinus. There’s one reference from Quintilian (10.1.190) that implies his death was in or shortly before 92 CE:
His sole surviving work is the Argonautica, an epic retelling of Jason and the Argonauts.
The work largely follows the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes, a Greek poet and scholar of Hellenistic Alexandria in the third century BCE, but it is expanded and even reworked at certain points. Where Apollonius composed his in three books, with the major focus being on Jason and Medea, Valerius spread the adventures prior to Colchis over four books, with the adventures in Colchis and their return over the next four. Additionally, the pre-Colchis scenes in the Greek Argonautica were briefly rushed through, while Valerius Flaccus places more emphasis on them.
Valerius was a very obscure poet, mentioned only a couple times before his “rediscovery” in the Renaissance.
- Hershkowitz, Debra 1998. Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica: Abbreviated Voyages in Silver Latin Epic. Oxford: Clarendon.