Grattius ‘Faliscus’

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Xenophon (c. 428—354 bc) Greek historian, writer, and military leader

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(less correct ‘Gratius’, Buecheler, Rh. Mus. 1880, 407: CIL 6. 19117 ff.: his connection with Falerii, based on 1. 40, and the epithet ‘Faliscus’ reported from a lost MS, are not universally accepted), Augustan poet contemporary with Ovid before ad 8 (Pont. 4. 16. 34), has one extant work in about 540 hexameters, the Cynegetica. In it he treats of the chase and especially the management of dogs for hunting. It is difficult to decide whether he owes anything to Xenophon (or pseudo-Xenophon) and the tradition of hunting literature; for his list of breeds of dogs he may have used an Alexandrian source. The Latin influence most operative upon him is that of Virgil's Georgics; but he also borrowed from the Aeneid and Ovid, much less from Lucretius. Authorities differ as to his influence on the similar poem by Nemesianus.

The earlier part of his work, after a proem, deals with equipment for capturing game (nets, snares, spears, and arrows); the remaining part (150–541) deals with huntsmen, dogs, and horses. Here, the allotment of nearly 300 lines to dogs (their breeding, points, and ailments) justifies his title. Grattius diversifies his theme by the introduction of episodes, a eulogy on the chase, the accounts of two clever huntsmen (Dercylus (95 ff.) and Hagnon (213 ff.), the homily on the deleterious effects of luxurious fare on human beings (somewhat amusingly juxtaposed with plain feeding for dogs), and two descriptive passages, a Sicilian grotto (430 ff.) and a sacrifice to the huntress Diana (483 ff.). The concluding portion on horses is mutilated. Grattius' diction—which includes numerous technical terms and hapax legomena—and versification are Augustan, but he does not always express himself lucidly. How far his inadequacies are to be ascribed to his exiguous MS tradition (Vindob. 277 (8th–9th cent.) is the sole independent witness) is uncertain.

Alessandro Schiesaro

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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