Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Atticus, Titus Pomponius

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From volume III of the work.
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ATTICUS, Titus Pomponius, the friend of Cicero, was one of the most distinguished men during the period of the decline and fall of the Roman republic. His life gives an admirable picture of the classical man of culture, who, withdrawing from the stir of political affairs, devoted himself to literary and artistic pursuits. He was born at Rome 109 B.C., and was thus three years older than Cicero, along with whom he and the younger Marius were educated. His family is said to have been of noble and ancient descent ; his father belonged to the equestrian order, and was very wealthy. "When Pomponius (who afterwards received the surname Atticus, on account of his long resi dence at Athens, and his intimate acquaintance with Greek literature) was still a young man, his father died, and he at once took the prudent resolution of transferring himself and his fortune to Athens, in order to escape the dangers of the civil war, in which he might have been involved through his connection with the murdered tribune Sulpicius Rufus. Here, in retirement, he contrived to keep himself free from the entanglements of faction, while preserving friendly relations with all parties. Sulla, who urged him to come to Rome and join his party, took no offence at his refusal, but treated him with marked kindness. He assisted the younger Marius and Brutus with money when they were fleeing from their enemies, and remained on the most cordial terms with Cæsar and Pompey, Antony and Octavianus. His most intimate friend, however, was Cicero, whose correspondence with him extended over many years, and who seems to have found his prudent counsel and sympathy a remedy for all his many troubles. His private life was tranquil and happy. He did not marry till he was 53 years of age, and his only child became the wife of Vipsanius Agrippa, the distinguished minister of Augustus. His large fortune was increased on the death of his uncle, L. Cæcilius, who bequeathed to him the greater part of his property. He formed a large library at Athens, and kept a staff of slaves engaged in making copies of valuable works. He probably derived considerable profits from the sale of these books. In 32 B.C. he was seized with an illness believed to be incurable. He resolved not to protract a painful and hopeless struggle, and died after five days of voluntary starvation. As might have been expected from his easy temper and equable disposition, Atticus professed a mild Epicureanism, but. philosophical problems, as such, do not seem to have had much interest for him ; he was emphatically a man of literature. Of his writings none are extant, but we have notices of two, one a Greek history of Cicero's consulship, the other, in Latin, on Roman annals, a subject to which he had given much attention. This work was highly commended for its minute exactness, chronological accuracy, and simple style.