1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lucilius Junior

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LUCILIUS JUNIOR, a friend and correspondent of the younger Seneca, probably the author of Aetna, a poem on the origin of volcanic activity, variously attributed to Virgil, Cornelius Severus (epic poet of the Augustan age) and Manilius. Its composition has been placed as far back as 44 B.C., on the ground that certain works of art, known to have been removed to Rome about that date, are referred to as being at a distance from the city. But as the author appears to have known and made use of the Quaestiones Naturales of Seneca (written A.D. 65), and no mention is made of the great eruption of Vesuvius (A.D. 79), the time of its composition seems to lie between these two dates. In favour of the authorship of Lucilius are the facts that he was a friend of Seneca and acquainted with his writings; that he had for some time held the office of imperial procurator of Sicily, and was thus familiar with the locality; that he was the author of a poem on Sicilian subjects. It is objected that in the 79th letter of Seneca, which is the chief authority on the question, he apparently asks that Lucilius should introduce the hackneyed theme of Aetna merely as an episode in his contemplated poem, not make it the subject of separate treatment. The sources of the Aetna are Posidonius of Apamea, and perhaps the pseudo-Aristotelian De Mundo, while there are many reminiscences of Lucretius. It has come down in a very corrupt state, and its difficulties are increased by the unpoetical nature of the subject, the straining after conciseness, and the obtrusive use of metaphor.

Editions by J. Scaliger (1595), F. Jacob (1826), H. A. J. Munro (1867), M. Haupt (in his edition of Virgil, 1873), E. Bährens (in Poetae latini minores, ii), S. Sudhaus (1898), R. Ellis (1901, containing a bibliography of the subject); see also M. Haupt’s Opuscula, i. 40, ii. 27, 162, iii. 437 (notes, chiefly critical); R. Ellis in Journal of Philology, xvi. 292; P. R. Wagler, De Aetna poemate quaestiones criticae (1884); B. Kruczkiewicz, Poema de Aetna Monte (1883, in which the ancient view of the authorship of Virgil is upheld); L. Alzinger, Studia in Aetnam collata (1896); R. Hildebrandt, Beiträge zur Erklärung des Gedichtes Aetna (1900); J. Vessereau (text, translation and commentary, 1905); Teuffel-Schwabe, Hist. of Roman Literature (Eng. trans. §§ 307, 308).