The Ideal Friend According to Ennius

Gellius, Attic Nights 12.4

“Some verses are quoted from the seventh book of Quintus Ennius’ Annals in which the character and behavior of a lower ranked man towards a socially superior friend is depicted and defined”

In the seventh book of the Annals we find Quintus Ennius  clearly and learnedly describing and defining in the story of Geminius Servilius, a nobleman, with what character, attitude, humility, trust, control over speech, context for speaking, with which knowledge of ancient things and old and new manners, with how much effort for guarding secret belief, and what kinds of treatments there are against the annoyances of life which are necessary aids for a friend of a man who is superior by birth and fortune to have.

I judge these verses to be no less worthy of frequent and constant remembrance than the philosophers’ sayings about responsibilities. In addition to this, the savor of antiquity in these verses must be so revered, its sweetness is so simple and removed from every kind of contamination, that my belief is that they must be remembered, and considered, and cultivated in the place just as ancient and sacred laws of friendship

Versus accepti ex Q. Enni septimo Annalium, quibus depingitur finiturque ingenium comitasque hominis minoris erga amicum superiorem.

Descriptum definitumque est a Quinto Ennio in Annaliseptimo graphice admodum sciteque sub historia Gemini Servili, viri nobilis, quo ingenio, qua comitate, qua modestia, qua fide, qua linguae parsimonia, qua loquendi opportunitate, quanta rerum antiquarum morumque veterum ac novorum scientia quantaque servandi tuendique secreti religione, qualibus denique ad muniendas vitae molestias fomentis,
levamentis, solacis amicum esse conveniat hominis genere et fortuna superioris.

Eos ego versus non minus frequenti adsiduoque memoratu dignos puto quam philosophorum de officiis decreta. Ad hoc color quidam vestustatis in his versibus tam reverendus est, suavitas tam inpromisca tamque a fuco omni remota est, ut mea quidem sententia pro antiquis sacratisque amicitiae legibus observandi, tenendi colendique sint. Quapropter adscribendos eos existimavi, si quis iam statim desideraret:

Ennius, Annals 7 fr.12

Once he said these things, he calls for a man with whom he often, happily, and freely
Shared a table and conversations about his own private affairs
When he found himself worn thin after the greater part of the day
From ruling the most important affairs of the state:
Advice grated in the form and in the sacred Senate.
To this man he would speak boldly on matters small and great
And tell jokes and empty himself of evil and good concerns
Through speech if he wanted to and know they are safe.
This man with whom he shares much pleasure
Communicating both secret and public joys
Whose nature no mere saying of evil sways
So that he might commit a lightly considered or evil deed.
A learned, trusty, kind, pleasurable, happy man content with his life,
Understanding, offering the right word at the right time,
Friendly but of few words, possessing much knowledge of antiquity
Buried by time, mastering customs new and old
The laws of many gods and men of antiquity,
A wise man, who can speak or be silent on what has been spoken.
In the middle of the fight Servilius addresses this man.

They claim that Lucius Aelius Stilo used to say that Ennius composed these words about him and that this was actually the detail of Ennius’ own character and customs.”

Haece locutus vocat quocum bene saepe libenter
Mensam sermonesque suos rerumque suarum
Comiter inpertit, magnam cum lassus diei
Partem fuisset, de summis rebus regundis
Consilio indu foro lato sanctoque senatu;
Cui res audacter magnas parvasque iocumque
Eloqueretur sed cura malaque et bona dictu
Evomeret, si qui vellet, tutoque locaret,
Quocum multa volup ac gaudia clamque
Ingenium cui nulla malum sententia suadet
Ut faceret facinus levis aut malus; doctus, fidelis,
Suavis homo, facundus, suo contentus, beatus,
Scitus, secunda loquens in tempore, commodus,
Paucum, multa tenens antiqua sepulta, vetustas
Quem facit et mores veteresque novosque tenentem,
Multorum veterum leges divumque hominumque;
Prudenter qui dicta loquive tacereve posset;
Hunc inter pugnas conpellat Servilius sic.

Image result for Ennius
Ennius from Wikipedia

Fragmentary Friday: A Dead Husband Among the Living (Caecilius)

Caecilius, fr. of The Little Necklace 136-150

“It is a wretched man who doesn’t know how to hide his misery outside.
My wife, even if I am silent, gives away the secret with her body and deeds.
She has everything you wouldn’t wish except a dowry.
Whoever wishes to be wise should learn from me, a man free but enslaved to enemies
In a safe town and citadel. Why should I wish her safe when she deprives me
Of all joy? While I gasp for her death, I am dead among the living.
She claims that there is a secret affair between me and my serving-woman.
She accuses me of it—then by begging, insisting, and arguing, she convinced me to sell her.
Now, I believe she is planting this kind of rumor among her relatives:
“Of all you women, which one in the bloom of youth
Succeeded in taking from her own husband what I, merely an old hag,
Stole away from mine: his sweet girlfriend!”
These are the sort of meetings they will have this day: I will be torn apart by wretched rumor!”

is demum miser est, qui aerumnam suam nescit occultare
foris: ita me uxor forma et factis facit, si taceam, tamen indicium.
Quae nisi dotem, omnia, quae nolis, habet: qui sapiet, de me discet,
qui quasi ad hostes captus liber servio salva urbe atque arce.
Quae mihi, quidquid placet, eo privatu vim me servatum.
Dum ego eius mortem inhio, egomet vivo mortuus inter vivos.
Ea me clam se cum mea ancilla ait consuetum, id me arguit,
ita plorando, orando, instando atque obiurgando me obtudit,
eam uti venderem; nunc credo inter suas
aequalis et cognatas sermonem serit:
“quis vestrarum fuit integra aetatula,
quae hoc idem a viro
impetrarit suo, quod ego anus modo
effeci, paelice ut meum privarem virum?”
haec erunt concilia hodie, differor sermone miser.

Success, Slowness and Reins: Three More Fragments from Pacuvius

Pacuvius, 160-1


“But if your qualities are so great, I fear I am unable to equal them
Unless I never hesitate to accomplish whatever good I can.”

At si tanta sunt promerita vestra, aequiperare ut queam
Vereor, nisi numquam fatiscar facere quod quibo boni.

Pacuvius, 179-180

“Although slow in itself, old age has this native trait:
All things seem to it to be accomplished slowly.”

Habet hoc senectus in sese ipsa cum pigra est
Spisse ut videantur omnia ei confieri

Pacuvius, 240, Medus

“If I pause, he urges me forward; if I try to advance, he stops me from going.”

Si resto, pergit ut eam, si ire conor, probibet baetere

Philosophers and Snapping Dogs: Two Fragments from Pacuvius

Pacuvius, fr. 11

Zethus: “I hate all men of base deeds and philosophical speech.”

Odi ego homines ignava operaet philosopha sententia

Pacuvius fr, 47-8

“For a dog, when it is hit by a rock, doesn’t retaliate against the man
Who threw it, but instead it lashes out at the stone that hit it.”

Nam canis, quando est percussa lapida, non tam illum adpetit
Qui sese icit, quam illum eumpse lapidem, qui ipsa icta est, petit

The Force That Pervades All Life: Pacuvius, fr. 112-114

“Whatever this is, it enlivens all things, forms them, nourishes, helps to grow, create
And then buries and absorbs everything into itself: it is the same father of all things
And all of this rises whole again from the same substance to which it returns.”

Quidquid est hoc, omnia animat format alit auget creat
Sepelit recipitque in sese omnia, omniumque idem est pater
Indidemque eadem aeque oriuntur deintregro atque eodem occidunt

Jupiter Stopped Gods and Men From Eating People: Ennius

Most people know Ennius for his fragmentary Annales inspired in part by Greek epic poetry. But he was also inspired by the tradition of Euhemerism, the idea that the gods were just metastasized stories of once great men. He left fragments of a prose work inspired by this Greek mythographical tradition.

Ennius, Euhemerus, 81-87

“In that time, Jupiter used to spend most of his time on Mount Olympos; and people would come to him there if there was any matter over which there was a dispute. In the same way, if anyone found anything new which might be useful for human life, they would go there to show it to him.

It once was the case that Saturn and Ops and even the rest of mankind were in the habit of eating human flesh;. But, in truth, it was Jupiter, the first to make laws and customs for men, who prohibited through an edict that it was any longer allowed to consume that food.”

Ea tempestate Iuppiter in monte Olympo
Maximam partem vitae colebat et eo ad
Eum in ius veniebant, si quae res in
Controversia erant. Item si quis quid
novi invenerat quod ad vitam humanum
utile esset, eo veniebant atque Iovi

Saturnum et Opem eterosque tunc
Homines humanam carnem solitos esitare;
Verum primum Ovem leges hominibus
Moresque condentem edicto prohibuisse
Ne liceret eo cibo vesci

What Ails Awake Plagues in Sleep as Well: Accius on Dreams

Accius, Brutus 29-38

“King, it is not at all a surprise that the things men do in life, what they think
Worry over, see, what they do and pursue while awake, should plague each man
While sleeping too. But in this one, the gods present you something quite unexpected.
Be on guard that the many you consider an imbecile just like a sheep
Might actually possess a heart especially safeguarded with wisdom.
He may supplant you in this kingdom: for the sign which comes to you from the sun
Foretells of a great change in the near future for your people.
May these things actually be a good change for the people.
For, since the most powerful sign moved from left to right in the sky,
It has prophesied that the Roman Republic would reign on high.”

Rex, quae in vita usurpant homines, cogitant curant vident
Quaeque agunt vigilantes agitantque ea si cui in somno accidunt
Minus mirum est, sed di in re tanta haut temere inprovisa offerunt.
Proin vide ne quem tu esse hebetem deputes aeque ac pecus
Is sapientia munitum pectus egregie gerat,
Teque regno expellat; nam id quod de sole ostentum est tibi
Populo conmutationem rerum portendit fore
Perpropinquam. Haec bene verruncent populo! Nam quod ad dexteram
Cepit cursum ab laeva signum praepotens, pulcherrume
Auguratum est rem Romanam publicam summam fore

The Struggle To Name Rome: Ennius, Annales 86-100

This passage from Ennius is preserved in Cicero’s De Divinatione 1.48

“They were struggling over whether the city would be called Roma or Remora.
And worry about which one of them would rule infected all men.
They were awaiting the word as when the consul wishes to give the signal
And all men eagerly look to the wall’s border to see
How soon he will send out the chariots from the painted mouths—
This is the way the people were watching and holding their mouths
For which man the victory would elevate to a great kingdom.
Meanwhile, the white sun receded into the darkness of night.
When suddenly a white light struck the sky with its rays.
At the same time there came flying straight down the most beautiful
Bird from the left and then the golden sun rose.
Three times, four sacred forms of birds descended from the sky
And settled themselves in propitious and noble positions.
In this, Romulus recognized that the first place was granted to him,
A kingdom and place made certain by the signs of birds.”

Certabant urbem Romam Remoramne vocarent.
Omnibus cura viris uter esset induperator.
Expectant vel uti, consul cum mittere signum
Volt, omnes avidi spectant ad carceris oras,
Quam mox emittat pictis e faucibus currus: 90
Sic expectabat populus atque ora tenebat
Rebus, utri magni victoria sit data regni.
Interea sol albus recessit in infera noctis.
Exin candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux.
Et simul ex alto longe pulcherruma praepes 95
Laeva volavit avis: simul aureus exoritur sol.
Cedunt de caelo ter quattor corpora sancta
Avium, praepetibus sese pulchrisque locis dant.
Conspicit inde sibi data Romulus esse priora,
Auspicio regni stabilita scamna locumque.

Leisure, Work and Child-Sacrifice: Two Fragments from Ennius’ Lost Iphigenia

Ennius’ Iphigenia was certainly modeled on Euripides’ Iphigenia on Aulis. But that in no way keeps the fragments from being their own creations….

232-234 Agamemnon

“Am I tortured because you mess up? You wander and I am on trial?
Let Helen return for her misdeed, but an innocent girl will perish?
That you and your wife be reconciled, my daughter should be served up?”

Ego projector quod tu peccas? Tu delinquis, ego arguor?
Pro malefactis Helena redeat, virgo pereat innocens?
Tua reconcilietur uxor, mea necetur filia?

241-248 Chorus

“Whoever doesn’t know who to use leisure when he has it,
Has more work in leisure than he has in work.
For the man who has a set task, does it without work:
He pays attention to it and in it entertains his mind and spirit.
In true leisure the sick mind does not know what it wants.
It is the same way here: look, we are neither at home nor soldiers;
We go here and there and when we have gone there, we go away again.
Our spirit wanders pointlessly; life is lived, more or less.”

Otio qui nescit uti <quom otium est, in otio>
Plus negoti habet quam quom est negotium in negotio;
Nam cui quod agat institutumst non ullo negotio
Id agit, id studet,ibi mentem atque animum delectat suum.
Otioso in otio animus nescit quid velit.
Hoc idem est; em neque domi nunc nos nec militiae sumus;
Imus huc, hin illuc;quom illuc ventum est, ire illic lubet.
Incerte errat animus, praeterpropter vitam vivitur.

Three Latin Fragments from Ajax’ s Speech Against Odysseus: Lucius Accius’ Lost Arms

The mythical and poetic traditions around the Trojan War make the Judgment of the Arms (the contest for Achilles’ weapons between Odysseus and Ajax) a common motif in art and literature. The Roman Tragedian Accius had his own version. Here are some fragments.


“His words [i.e. Achilles’] speak clearly, if you understand them.
He commands that his weapons be given to the kind of man
Who bore them, if we desire to overpower Pergamum.
I declare that I am that man, that it is right for me to use
The weapons of my kin, that they be allotted to me
Either because I am his relative or his rival in bravery.”

Aperte fatur dictio, si intellegas:
Tali dari arma, qualis qui gessit fuit,
Iubet, potiri si studeamus Pergamum.
Quem ego me profiteor esse, me est accum frui
Fraternis armis mihique adiucarier
Vel quod propinquus vel quod virtuti aemulus.


“This man [Odysseus] was the only man who ignored the sworn oath
Which he took first and you all made together.
He tried to pretend to be insane to avoid the fighting.
If observant Palamedes in his wisdom
Had not noticed the malicious daring of this coward
The law of sacred oath would be meaningless forever.”

Cuius ipse princeps iuris iurandi fuit
Quod omnes seitis, solus neglexit fidem;
Furere adsimulare, ne coiret, institit
Quod ni Palamedi perspicax prudentia
Istius percepset malitosam audaciam,
Fide sacratae ius perpetuo falleret.


“Yeah, saw you, Ulysses, breaking Hector on a rock.
I watched you defending the Greek fleet with your shield,
While I, trembling, clamored for shameful flight.”

Vidi, te, Ulixes, saxo sternentem Hectora,
Vidi tegentem clipeo classem Doricam;
Ego tunc pudendum trepidus hortabar fugam.