, a Roman elegiac poet of equestrian family. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he died young, soon after Vergil. His birth is therefore placed by conjecture B.C. 54, and his death B.C. 19. Of his youth and education absolutely nothing is known. The estate belonging to the equestrian ancestors of Tibullus was at Pedum, between Tibur and Praenest. This property, like that of the other great poets of the day, Vergil and Horace, had been either entirely or partially confiscated during the Civil Wars; yet Tibullus retained or recovered part of it, perhaps through Messalla, and spent there the better portion of his short, but peaceful and happy, life ( Tib.i. 1Tib., 19; cf. Plin. Ep.i. 4Plin. Ep., 7). When his friend and patron, Messalla, was going to his prefecture in Asia, B.C. 30, Tibullus, after first refusing, eventually agreed to accompany him, but fell ill on the way at Corcyra and returned thence to Rome ( Tib.i. 1; i. 3). Afterwards, in 28, he went to Aquitania with Messalla, who had been sent by Augustus to suppress a formidable insurrection which had broken out in this province. Part of the glory of the Aquitanian campaign, which Tibullus celebrates in language of unwonted loftiness, redounds, according to the poet, to his own fame. He was present at the battle of Atax (Aude in Languedoc), which quelled the Aquitanian rebellion ( Tib.i. 7). So ceased the active life of Tibullus; his remaining history is the chronicle of his poetry and of the loves which inspired it. The first object of his attachment is celebrated under the poetic name of Delia: according to Apuleius ( Apol.10) her real name was Plania. To Delia are addressed the first six elegies of the first book. The poet's attachment to Delia had begun before he left Rome for Aquitania. But Delia seems to have been faithless during his absence from Rome. On his return from Corcyra he found her ill, and attended her with affectionate solicitude ( Eleg.i. 5), and hoped to induce her to retire with him into the country. But first a richer lover appears to have supplanted him with the inconstant Delia, and afterwards there appears a husband in his way. The second book of elegies is chiefly devoted to a new mistress named Nemesis (cf. Ovid, Am.iii. 9 Am., 32; Mart.viii. 73Mart., 7). It is probable, though not certain, that this Nemesis is the same as the Glycera mentioned only by Horace ( Carm.i. 33 Carm., 2), who reproves him for dwelling so long in his plaintive elegies on the pitiless Glycera.
The poetry of his contemporaries shows Tibullus to have been a gentle and singularly amiable man. To Horace especially he was an object of warm attachment. Besides the ode which alludes to his passion for Glycera ( Hor. Carm.i. 33), the epistle to Tibullus gives the most full and pleasing view of his poetical retreat, and of his character; it is written by a kindred spirit. Horace does homage to that perfect purity of taste which distinguishes the poetry of Tibullus, and he takes pride in the candid but favourable judgment of his own Satires. The time of Tibullus he supposes to be shared between the finishing his exquisite small poems, which were to surpass even those of Cassius of Parma, up to that time the models of this kind of composition, and the enjoyment of the country. Tibullus possessed, according to his friend's notions, all the blessings of lifea competent fortune, favour with the great, fame, health; and he seemed to know how to enjoy all those blessings. [p. 1583]
The first two books alone of the elegies under the name of Tibullus are of undoubted authenticity. The third is the work of another, a very inferior poet, whether Lygdamus be a real or fictitions name. This poet was much younger than Tibullus, for he was born in the year of the battle of Mutina, 43. It is probable that he was a less gifted member of Messalla's literary circle: this connection with the patron of Tibullus might account for his elegies being confused with the genuine poems of Tibullus. The hexameter poem on Messalla, which opens the fourth book, is so inferior that, although a successful elegiac poet may have failed when he attempted epic verse, it cannot readily be ascribed to a writer of the exquisite taste of Tibullus. If it is his, it must be regarded as an early poem written in an imitative manner, when he was under the full influence of the Alexandrian School. The smaller elegies of the fourth book have all the inimitable grace and simplicity [figure in text: Villa of Hadrian at Tibur. (Restoration by Bhlmann.)] of Tibullus. With the exception of the thirteenth (of which some lines are hardly surpassed by Tibullus himself) these poems relate to the love of a certain Sulpicia , a woman of noble birth, for Cerinthus, the real or fictitious name of a beautiful youth. Nor is there any improbability in supposing that Tibullus may have written elegies in the name or by the desire of Sulpicia. If Sulpicia was herself the poetess, she approached nearer to Tibullus than any other writer of elegies. The first book of elegies alone seems to have been published during the author's life, probably soon after the triumph of Messalla (27). The second book probably did not appear till after the death of Tibullus. With it may have been published the elegies of his imitator, perhaps his friend and associate in the society of Messalla, Lygdamus (if that be a real name), i. e. the third book and likewise the fourth, made up of poems belonging, as it were, to this intimate society of Messalla; the Panegyricus Messallae by some unnamed author, which, feeble as it is, seems to be of that age; the poems in the name of Sulpicia , with the concluding one, the thirteenth, a fragment of Tibullus himself. There are editions of Tibullus by Lachmann (Berlin, 1829); Dissen, 2 vols. (Gttingen, 1835); Bhrens (Leipzig, 1878); Hiller, with a good index (Leipzig, 1885); selections by Ramsay. There is an English verse translation by Cranstoun, with notes (London, 1872). See Sellar's Roman Poets of the Republic for a good literary estimate of the poet.