Pomponius Secundus

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Publius Pomponius Secundus was a distinguished statesman and poet in the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. He was on intimate terms with the elder Pliny, who wrote a biography of him, now lost.


Pomponius' mother was Vistilia, who by other marriages was the mother of Publius Suillius Rufus and the general Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Pomponius' brother, Quintus Pomponius Secundus, was involved in various intrigues during the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius. Quintus tried to protect his brother from Tiberius' displeasure.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

Cassius Dio says that Pomponius was consul seven years before the accession of Caligula; that is, c. 30; but his name does not appear in the consular fasti. He was one of the friends of Sejanus, who was consul in 31, and on the latter's fall in October of that year, Pomponius was thrown into prison, where he remained until 37. Caligula released him, and raised him to the consulship in 41.[3][4][5]

In the time of Claudius, Pomponius was appointed the emperor's legatus in Germania. In 50, a group of Chatti invaded Germania Superior. Pomponius sent two columns against them, supported by cavalry. One group of raiders was surprised and entrapped, and the Roman troops discovered amongst them several survivors of the defeat of Varus, who had been pressed into slavery forty years earlier. The other column engaged the main body of the raiders, and inflicted heavy losses. Rather than attacking Pomponius' army, which now held the high ground, the Chatti sued for peace, and Pomponius received the honor of a triumph.[6]


It was by his tragedies that Secundus obtained the most celebrity. They are spoken of in the highest terms by Tacitus, Quintilian, and the younger Pliny, and were read even in a much later age, as one of them is quoted by the grammarian Charisius. These tragedies were first put on the stage in the time of Claudius. Quintilian asserts that he was far superior to any writer of tragedies he had known, and Tacitus expresses a high opinion of his literary abilities.[7][8][9][10]

Secundus devoted much attention to the niceties of grammar and style, on which he was recognized as an authority. His subject matter was Greek, with one known exception, a praetexta called Aeneas. Tragedians in the Julio-Claudian and Flavian periods typically were men of relatively high social status, and their works often expressed their political views under an insufficient veil of fiction. Only a few lines of his work remain, some of which belong to Aeneas.[11]


The praenomen of Pomponius Secundus is doubtful. In one passage Tacitus calls him Publius, and in another Lucius, while Cassius Dio names him Quintus. Tacitus, however, calls his brother Quintus. An inscription appears to assign him the name of "[Calv]isius Sabinus Pomponius Secundus", but the nature of his connection with the family of the Calvisii Sabini, if any, is unknown.[12][13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A.J. Woodman, Tacitus: The Annals (Hackett, 2004), p. 164 online.
  2. ^ Tacitus, Annales, vi. 18, xiii. 43.
  3. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, lix. 6, 29.
  4. ^ Tacitus, Annales, v. 8, vi. 18.
  5. ^ At least one source calls Pomponius consul suffectus in 44; see Suzanne Dixon, Childhood, Class and Kin in the Roman World (Routledge, 2001), p. 225 online.
  6. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xii. 27, 28.
  7. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xi. 13, Dialogus de Oratoribus, 13.
  8. ^ Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, x. 1. § 98.
  9. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, iii. 5, vii. 17.
  10. ^ Charisius, ap. Bothe, Poet. Scen. Lat. Fragm. vol. ii. p. 279.
  11. ^ Gian Biagio Conte, Latin Literature: A History pp. 417–418 online; Vasily Rudich, Political Dissidence under Nero (Routledge, 1993), p. 304.
  12. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xi. 13, xii. 27.
  13. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, lix. 6.
  14. ^ Prosopographia Imperii Romani, vol. 2, P 754.


  • Otto Ribbeck, Geschichte der römischen Dichtung, iii. (1892). and Tragicorum Romanorum fragmenta (1897)
  • Tacitus, Annals, v. 8, x. 13, xi. 28
  • Quintilian, Inst. Orat. x. I. 98
  • Pliny, Nat. Hist. xiv. 5
  • Martin Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, ii. 2 (1900)
  • Wilhelm Siegmund Teuffel, History of Roman Literature (Eng. trans., 1900), 284, 7.
  • Manuel Dejante Pinto de Magalhães Arnao Metello and João Carlos Metello de Nápoles, "Metellos de Portugal, Brasil e Roma", Torres Novas, 1998.

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.