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Form: Albius.
A Roman elegiac poet, born about 55 B.C., of a wealthy and ancient equestrian family, which had lost a considerable part of its property in the Civil Wars. However, he still owned an estate at Pedum, between Tibur and Praeneste, and was able to lead a comfortable life. He obtained the favour of Messala Corvinus, whom he accompanied on his Aquitanian campaign in 31 B.C. Messala's invitation to accompany him to Asia be at first declined, being captivated by love for Delia, a freed-woman whose proper name was Plania. Afterwards, when he had determined to make the journey, he fell ill, and was compelled to remain behind at Corcyra. He returned to Rome, and there received the sad tidings that Delia was faithless to him, and had given her affections to a rich suitor. The poems which refer to his relations with Delia are contained in the first book of his elegies. The second book has as its subject his mistress Nemesis, who likewise embittered his love by her faithlessness. According to an epigram by a contemporary poet, he died soon after Vergil, in the year 19 B.C. or early in 18. Four books of elegies have come down to us under his name, but of these only the first two can be assigned to him with certainty. The whole of the third book is the work of a feeble imitator, who represents himself as called Lygdamus, and as born in the year 43. It treats of the love-passages between the poet and his mistress Neoera. Of the fourteen poems of the fourth book, the first, a panegyric in 211 hexameters, on Messala, composed during Messala's consulship in 31, is so poor a production that it cannot be assigned to Tibullus; especially as he already enjoyed the full favour of Messala, which is solicited by the author of the poem. Moreover, poems 8-12, short love-letters of a maiden to a lover named Cerinthus, possibly Tiberius' friend Cornutus, are from the pen of a poetess, Sulpicia, probably the grand-daughter of the famous jurist, Servius Sulpicius. There is no ground for not attributing the remaining poems to Tibullus. The spurious works owe their preservation among those of Tibullus to the fact that they are the production of the circle of Messala; and were published with the genuine works as part of the literary remains either of Messala or of Tibullus, who himself, at the very most, published the first book only during his lifetime. Among the ancients, Tibullus was considered the first master of elegiac composition. The two themes of his poetry are love and country life. Within this narrow range the poet moves with considerable grace and truthfulness of feeling, expressing his homely thoughts in correspondingly homely and natural language, without any of the obscure erudition characteristic or Propertius, but also without that poet's versatility and artistic skill.
Type: Standard
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