Cornelius Nepos

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Nepos, Cornelius

Nepos, Cornelius (nēˈpŏs), c.100 B.C.–c.25 B.C., Roman historian. He was an intimate friend of Pomponius Atticus, Cicero, and Catullus. His only extant work is a collection of biographies, mostly from a lost larger work, De viris illustribus [on illustrious men]. The general method was to compare the lives of great Roman and non-Roman leaders. Nepos wrote in a popular manner in clear and simple Latin; his work was sometimes inaccurate, but significant in the history of biography writing.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nepos, Cornelius


Born circa 100 B.C. in Cisalpine Gaul; died after 32 B.C. in Rome. Ancient Roman historian and poet. Nepos was the author of the Chronica (a no longer extant short outline of Greek and Roman history) and the Exempla, a collection of historical anecdotes and stories dealing with his-tory, geography, and the natural sciences, also no longer extant. Another of Nepos’ works, Concerning Famous Men, consisting of at least 16 volumes, contained the biographies of foreign and Roman rulers, military commanders, historians, poets, orators, and grammarians. An excerpt of this work, Concerning Out-standing Foreign Military Leaders (23 biographies), and fragments from the volume Concerning the Latin Historians (biographies of Cato the Elder and Atticus) have survived. Nepos was also the author of some erotic verses.


C. Nepotis quae supersunt. Leipzig, 1871.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannye biografii, 5th ed. St. Petersburg, 1908.
Biografii znamenitykh polkovodtsev. Kiev, 1883.


Tiiunelite, la. Tvorchestvo Korneliia Nepota. Vilnius, 1958. (Dissertation synopsis.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
I studied Latin because I believed that I should read the Latin authors, and I suppose I got as much of the language as most school-boys of my age, but I never read any Latin author but Cornelius Nepos. I studied Greek, and I learned so much of it as to read a chapter of the Testament, and an ode of Anacreon.
"It was his Cornelius Nepos that Master Edward was repeating when he referred to King Mithridates," continued the count, "and you interrupted him in a quotation which proves that his tutor has by no means neglected him, for your son is really advanced for his years."
first century BCE) in Book XV of his Library, and by Cornelius Nepos (c.
Translating the entire list might have prevented the editor from claiming, in the first and third footnote to the list of less frequently cited Latin authors (256), that Cornelius Nepos does not feature in it, whereas in fact "Corn.
biographer and historian Cornelius Nepos, which identify them as Cornelia's own writing from Nepos's (now lost) book on historians who wrote in Latin.
But an outline by Cornelius Nepos reveals the preoccupations of Cato's 'didactic moralizing and pioneer ethnography.' One book told of the early Roman kings, and two each dealt with 'the origins of all the communities of Italy', the Punic Wars, and other 'events and sights in Spain and Italy'.
Jenkinson, `Genus scripturae leve: Cornelius Nepos and the early history of biography at Rome', ANRW i.3 (Berlin, 1973), p.
Lohenstein's citation in his notes of the preface by Aemilius Probus refers to the opening chapter of Cornelius Nepos's De Excellentibus Ducibus Exterarum Gentium (On the Great Leaders of Foreign Lands, first century B.C.), a collection of biographies of famous men, attributed by some until the beginning of our own century to the compiler Aemilius Probus.(35) Nepos's preface refers, however, not to Persian customs, as Nero's remark might indicate, but to those of the Greeks.
Thucydides is quoted, and followed in his rejection of the story, by Cornelius Nepos, Themistocles 10.4.
There is, indeed, nothing to warrant the kind of primacy that translators, following editors, always accord to Pindar's Olympian I and almost always to Catullus' dedicatory poem to Cornelius Nepos except the assumption, hardly to be questioned, that this is the only complete poem of Sappho's that has survived.
Finally, it was said to be absurd to think that men as eminent as Atticus or Cornelius Nepos would have copied out Cicero's works in their own hands -- that was a job for trained slaves -- and, in addition, Nepos has no known connection with the transmission of Cicero's work.(43)
Among the Greek customs that Cornelius Nepos enumerates in his preface is the fact that `it is considered a matter of praise in Greece for young men to have had as many lovers as possible' (`laud) in Graecia ducitur adulescentulis quam plurimos habuisse amatores', pr.