Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. February Learn how and when to remove this template message Publilius Syrus fl. He was a Syrian who was brought as a slave to Roman Italy. By his wit and talent, Syrus won the favour of his master, who granted him manumission and educated him.
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Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. February Learn how and when to remove this template message Publilius Syrus fl. He was a Syrian who was brought as a slave to Roman Italy. By his wit and talent, Syrus won the favour of his master, who granted him manumission and educated him. He became a member of the Publilia gens. Publius being a very common Roman praenomen. Work[ edit ] His mimes , in which he acted, had a great success in the provincial towns of Italy and at the games given by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.
Publilius was perhaps even more famous as an improviser. He received from Julius Caesar himself the prize in a contest, in which Syrus vanquished all his competitors, including the celebrated Decimus Laberius.
All that remains of his corpus is a collection of Sententiae , a series of moral maxims in iambic and trochaic verse. This collection must have been made at a very early date, since it was known to Aulus Gellius in the 2nd century AD. Each maxim consists of a single verse, and the verses are arranged in alphabetical order according to their initial letters.
In the course of time the collection was interpolated with sentences drawn from other writers, especially from apocryphal writings of Seneca the Younger. The number of genuine verses is about They include many pithy sayings, such as the famous "iudex damnatur ubi nocens absolvitur" "The judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted" , which was adopted as its motto by the Edinburgh Review.
Spengel , and Wilhelm Meyer , with complete critical apparatus and index verborum; editions with notes by O.
Friedrich , R. Bickford-Smith , with full bibliography; see also W. Influence[ edit ] Seneca the Younger strived to develop a "sententious style" like Publilius throughout his life. If Shakespeare had not taken this from Lyly, then he and Lyly both derived this expression from Publilius. The Classical Weekly.
The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus by Publius Syrus
Years since, I sought in vain for a copy of the work from which that motto was drawn, and when later I learned from the above statement of Smith, that neither Jeffrey, Murray, Brougham, nor himself, had read a single line of Publius Syrus, I was surprised to discover what a reputation for learning and extensive erudition a man might ac- quire by an apt quotation from an inaccessible author. When still later a copy of Syrus came into my hands, it seemed strange that a writer of such wit and acuteness should not have been a great favorite with each of the Beviewers. That he was not, I could only account Hi for by supposing that the original was seldom published by itself on account of its brevity ; and that it was rarely translated, from the fact that many of the sayings derive their pith from the circumstance of their illustrating the character of personages represented in a play. But whether the Edinburgh Reviewers knew much or little of Syrus, matters not. A writer whom these Reviewers had never read, who yet furnished their journal with a very appropriate motto, and with whom many of our popular proverbs originated, I here take the liberty to introduce to the people in a free English dress, knowing that if his noble shade is yet cognizant of his literary remains, he will thank me for bringing him before a public more capable of appreciating his good things than a Roman mob, and better able to practice his wiser moral precepts if so disposed, than most of the best of his contem- poraries. I would only bespeak the charity of the reader for the seeming insipidity to be found in some of the Sayings. Time has wrought Synia a singular destiny, building up for him a second reputation on the ruins of a first.
20 Lessons From Publilius Syrus