Iter

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Iter (Engl.: "The Journey") is the name of a travel poem by Julius Caesar, which he wrote during the Great Roman Civil War in early December 46 BC after arriving in the town of Obulco in the Roman province Hispania Ulterior.[1] In Spain the last contingent of the Republican faction under the command of Pompeius' sons Gnaeus and Sextus Pompeius had raised an army and was preparing for what would be the final and decisive battle in the civil war, the battle of Munda.

It is evidence of Caesar's unique intellectual resilience that he recorded his journey as a poetic narration immediately upon his arrival.[2] However, only the six famous hexameters on the Roman comic playwright Publius Terentius Afer have been handed down to us through Suetonius' writings:

You too, who divide your honors with Menander, will take your place among poets of the highest order, and justly too, such is the purity of your style. Would only that to your graceful diction was added more comic force, that your works might equal in merit the Greek masterpieces, and your inferiority in this particular should not expose you to censure. This is my only regret! In this, Terence, I grieve to say you are wanting.[3]

The fragment's versification is similar to that of Horace's works, which possibly sheds some light on Caesar's travel library and reading habits.[4]

References

  1. Orosius 6.16.6; Strabo III.4.9 (3.160); Appian, Civil Wars 2.103 (2.429); Cassius Dio, Roman History 43.32.1.
  2. Matthias Gelzer, Caesar. Der Politiker und Staatsmann, Wiesbaden 1983.
  3. Suetonius, Life of Terence 5: Tu quoque, tu in summis, o dimidiate Menander, Poneris, et merito, puri sermonis amator. Lenibus atque utinam scriptis adiuncta foret vis, comica ut aequato virtus polleret honore cum Graecis neve hac despectus parte iaceres! Unum hoc maceror ac doleo tibi desse, Terenti.
  4. O. A. W. Dilke, "The Literary Output of the Roman Emperors", in: Greece & Rome IV 1 (1957), p. 92.