B. 110 bc, the son of a cultured equestrian of a family claiming descent from Pompilius Numa (see rex), was later adopted by a rich uncle, whose wealth he inherited. He was a friend of Cicero from boyhood (Cicero's brother Quintus married Atticus' sister), and Cicero's Letters to Atticus, probably published in the reign of Nero, are the best source for his character, supplemented by an encomiastic biographical sketch by his friend Nepos. In 85 Atticus left Italy after selling his assets there, in order to escape the civil disturbances he foresaw. He lived in Athens until the mid‐60s (hence his cognomen), among other things studying Epicurean philosophy (see epicurus), to which however he never wholly subscribed. Henceforth he combined a life of cultured ease (otium; see labour) with immense success in various business activities and an infallible instinct for survival. He privately urged Cicero to determined action on behalf of the optimates, with whom he sympathized, but himself refused to take sides in politics and personally assisted many prominent politicians from Marius to Octavian (see Augustus), without regard for their differences and conflicts. He was Cicero's literary adviser and had his works copied and distributed. He himself wrote a chronological table of world, and, esp. Roman, history, which became a standard work, eulogistic histories of some noble families, and minor works. (All are lost.) He lived to become a friend of Vipsanius Agrippa, who married his daughter. In 32 he killed himself when incurably ill.
Subjects: Classical Studies.