Gallus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

C. Cornelius, was born at Forum Iulii (Fréjus) in Gaul, of poor parents, about B.C. 66. He went to Italy at an early age, and began his career as a poet when he was about twenty years of age. He had already attained considerable distinction at the time of Caesar's death, 44; and upon the arrival of Octavianus in Italy after that event, Gallus embraced his party, and soon acquired great influence with him. In 41 he was one of the triumvirs appointed by Octavianus to distribute lands in the north of Italy among his veterans, and on that occasion he afforded protection to the inhabitants of Mantua and to Vergil. He afterwards accompanied Octavianus to the battle of Actium, 31, and commanded a detachment of the army. After the battle, Gallus was sent with the army to Egypt, in pursuit of Antony; and when Egypt was made a Roman province, Octavianus appointed Gallus the first prefect of the province. He remained in Egypt for nearly four years; but he incurred at length the enmity of Octavianus, though the exact nature of his offence is uncertain. According to some accounts he spoke of the emperor in an offensive and insulting manner; he erected numerous statues of himself in Egypt, and had his own exploits inscribed on the pyramids. The Senate deprived him of his estates, and sent him into exile; whereupon he put an end to his life by falling upon his own sword, B.C. 27. The intimate friendship existing between Gallus and the most eminent men of the time, as Asinius Pollio, Vergil, Varus, and Ovid, and the high praise they bestow upon him, prove that he was a man of great intellectual powers and acquirements. Ovid (Trist. iv. 10.5) assigns to him the first place among the Roman elegiac poets; and we know that he wrote a collection of elegies in four books, the principal subject of which was his love of Lycoris. (See Vergil's Tenth Eclogue.) But all his productions have perished; for the four epigrams in the Latin Anthology attributed to Gallus could not have been written by a contemporary of Augustus. Gallus translated into Latin the poems of Euphorion of Chalcis, but this translation is also lost. Some critics attributed to him the poem Ciris, usually printed among the works of Vergil. See Völker, De C. Galli Vita et Scriptis, pt. i. (Bonn, 1840), pt. ii. (Elberfeld, 1844); NicolasA. , De la Vie et des Ouvrages de C. Gallus (Paris, 1851). His story is made the basis of the well-known work of W. Becker on Roman antiquities. See Becker.

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