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File:Maecenas Coole Park.JPG
It is certain that such a connection existed; and the historian just cited tnentions a report that Augustus's motive for going into Gaul in B. 16 was to enjoy the society of Terentia, unmolested by the lampoons which it gave occasion to at Rome. But, whatever may have been the cause, the political career of Maecenas may be considered as then at an end; and we shall therefore now turn to contemplate him in private life. Maecenas was for a time one of Augustus's closest advisors, and a famous patron of artists, including the poets Horace, Virgil, and Propertius. The land for his estate on the Esquiline was acquired by covering over the burial pits located just outside the Rampart of the Republican Wall on the Esquiline.
He bids him to remember that we must live wisely and well in the present, as the future is uncertain. To Mercury – Horace begs the god to teach him such melody as will overcome the unkindness of Lyde. The ode concludes with the tale of the daughters of Danaus, and their doom in the underworld.
Ode III.2 contains the famous line "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," (It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country). Ode III.5 Caelo tonantem credidimus Jovem makes explicit identification of Augustus as a new Jove destined to restore in modern Rome the valor of past Roman heroes like Marcus Atilius Regulus, whose story occupies the second half of the poem. Maecenas's house was the rendezvous of all the wits and virtuosi of Rome, and whoever could contribute to the amusement of the company was always welcome to a seat at his table. In this kind of society he does not appear to have been very select; and it was probably from his undistinguishing hospitality that Augustus called his board parasiica mensa.
It has been thought that two of his works, of which little more than the titles remain, were tragedies, namely, the Prometheus aad Octavia. An hexameter line supposed to have belonged to an epic poem; another line, thought to have been part of a Galliambic poem, one or two epigrams, and some other fragments, are extant. In prose, he wrote a work on natural history, which Dliny several times alludes to, but which seems to have related chiefly to fishes and gems. If we may trust the same authority, he also composed some memoirs of Augustus, and Horace alludes to at least some project of the kind, but which was probably never carried into execution.
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It is generally thought nowadays that the horti Maecenatiani were very extensive (Fig. 4).131 However, I have argued in sections 2 and 3 above that they had nothing to do with the agger and the paupers' cemetery, and that the idea of a free-standing tower at the highest point of the mons Oppius is equally improbable. The anonymous funerary elegist described Maecenas' estate as ‘a few iugera of fruit-bearing land’,132 and a iugerum was 120 × 240 Roman feet, about one-third the size of a football pitch. Of course ‘few’ is a relative term, and we cannot use it to estimate the real extent of the horti.133 But since it is rhetorically counter-productive to say something your audience (or readers) know to be grossly untrue, the poet's phrase implies an estate rather less huge than is normally supposed.
The district was buried under fresh earth to the depth of 24 feet, and a public park, a fifth of a mile in extent, was laid out on the newly made ground”(The Destruction of Ancient Rome, p. 14). Gardens which Maecenas laid out on the Esquiline, on the Servian agger and the adjacent necropolis, thus transforming this unsavoury region into a beautiful promenade (Hor. Sat. I.8.14; Acro, Porphyrio, and Comm. Cruq. ad hoc.). They became imperial property after the death of Maecenas, and Tiberius lived here after his return to Rome in 2 A.D. Nero connected them with the Palatine by his Domus Transitoria (q.v.) (Tac. Ann. XV.39), and viewed the burning of that from the turris Maecenatiana (Suet. Nero 38). This turris was probably the molem propinquam nubibus arduis of Horace (Carm. III.29.10).
Horace toward themes of public interest may be ascribed to him, and he endeavoured less successfully to do the same thing with Sextus Propertius. The relationship between Maecenas and his circle is largely a matter of conjecture, but he and Horace were certainly personal friends. It has fallen to the lot of no other patron of literature to have his name associated with works of such lasting importance as the Georgics of Virgil, as well as Horace’s Satires 1, Epodes, Odes (books 1–3), Epistles (book 1), and Propertius (book 2). Terentia tired of him and is said to have become Augustus’ mistress.
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By other authors, however, the invention has been attributed to various persons of an earlier date; as to Tiro, Cicero's freedman, to Cicero himself, and even to Enmus. After Octavianus's victory over Antony and Cleopatra, the whole power of the triumvirate centered in the former; for Lepidus had been previously reduced to the condition of a private person. On his return to Rome, Caesar is represented to have taken counsel with Agrippa and Macenas respecting the expediency of restoring the republic.
According to Appian, however, Cocceius Nerva played the principal part. About two years afterwards Maecenas seems to have been again employed in negotiating with Antony, and it was probably on this occasion that Horace accompanied him to Brundisium, a journey which he has described in the 5th satire of the ist book.
Maecenas died childless and left all his wealth, including his palace and gardens on the Esquiline Hill (the eastern plateau of Rome), to Augustus, with whom he had never ceased to be on friendly terms. The birthplace of Maecenas is unrecorded, but his mother’s family, the Cilnii, had lorded it centuries earlier in Arretium (modern Arezzo, about 90 miles [145 km] north of Rome), and this was apparently also the hometown of his father’s family. Tacitus (in Annals) once calls him Cilnius Maecenas (Etruscans used the mother’s family name), but officially he was Gaius Maecenas. His great wealth may have been partly inherited, but he owed his position and influence to Octavian, later the emperor Augustus.
- His love of ointments is tacitly satirized by Augustus, and his passion for gems and precious stones is notorious.
- Horace declines, alleging lack of talent, and requests Iulus to compose the poem himself.
- His fidelity and talents had now been tested by several years' experience, and it had probably been found that the bent of his genius fitted him for the cabinet rather than for the field, since his services could be so easily dispensed with in the latter.
- Quintilian and Seneca also condemn his style, and the latter author gives a specimen of it which is almost wholly unintelligible.
Agrippa, being more nearly connected with Augustus, would of course obtain the preference; and such an act of self-renunciation was quite in the character of Maecenas, and might have even formed part of his advice respecting the conduct to be observed towards Agrippa. 21 and 16, however, we have direct evidence that a coolness, to say the least, had sprung up between the Emperor and his faith- ful minister. This estrangement, for it cannot be called actual disgrace, is borne out by the silence of historians respecting the latter years of Maecenas's life, as well as by the express testimony of Tacitus, who tells us that during this period he enjoyed only the appearance, and not the reality, of his sovereign's friendship. Seneca drops a mysterious hint about Maecenas having taken in his sails too late; whilst Dion Cassius positively attributes it to an intrigue carried on by Augustus with Terentia, Maecenas's wife.
The Manhandling of Maecenas: Senecan Abstractions of Masculinity
An ode of joy for Augustus's victory at Actium, the capture of Alexandria, and the death of Cleopatra. The tone of triumph over the fallen queen is tempered by a tribute of admiration to her lofty pride and resolute courage.
Maecenas felt that, though a knight (slightly humbler than a senator but basically a nonpolitical member of the privileged class), his lineage and power overtopped any senator’s, and he refused a career as one. Augustus, and wealthy patron of such poets as Virgil and Horace.
Maecenas had purchased a tract of ground on the Esquiline hill, which had formerly served as a burial place for the lower orders. Here he had planted a garden, and built a house remarkable for its loftiness, on account of a tower by which it was surmounted, and from the top of which Nero is said to have afterwards contemplated the burning of Rome.
Observing work on the new Via Napoleone III in 1887, the topographer Rudolf Lanciani describes the excavations of seventy-five pits, which also included the remains of animals “reduced to a uniform mass of black, unctuous matter.… The field of death served also as a dumping place for the daily refuse of the city. This hotbed of infection was suppressed by Augustus at the suggestion of his prime minister Maecenas.
The poet was at liberty to write or not, as he pleased, and lived in a state of independence creditable alike to himself and to his patron. lideed their intimacy was rather that of two familiar friends of equal station, than of the royally-descended and powerful minister of Caesar, with the son of an obscure freedman. OF the life of Maecenas we must be content to glean what scattered notices we can find from the poets and historians of Rome, since it does not appear to have been formally recorded by any ancient author. We are in the dark both as to the date and place of his birth, and the manner of his education.
40, in negotiating a marriage for him with Scribonia, daughter of Libo, the father-in-law of Sex. Pompeius, which latter, for political reasons, Octavianus was at that time desirous of conciliating. In the same year, Maecenas took part in the negotiations with Antony (whose wife, Fulvia, was now dead), which led to the peace of Brundisium, confirmed by the marriage of Antony with Octavia, Caesar's sister.
It has been concluded from Tacitus that he first introduced that species of representation at Rome; and, with the politic view of keeping the people quiet by amusing them, persuaded Augustus to patronize it. Dion Cassius tells us that he was the first to introduce warm swimming baths at Rome.