Born in Rieti in 116 BC, Marco Terenzio Varrone was a scholar, a polygraph and one of the most fruitful and excellent authors of the ancient world. Animated by a profound patriotic spirit and a strong moral sense, he is remembered for the conspicuous amount of work accomplished. Deeply admired by his contemporaries, he then drew all the scholars and generally the Roman and Greco-Roman culture of the following centuries.
Among the major representatives of the culture of the ancient world, modern research studies have listed 74 works for a total of 620 books, even if very little remains of all this production. Among these a treatise in three books on agriculture, and a part of the great work De lingua latina along with a thousand fragments in verse and prose.
Saturae Menippeae, a work composed with the purpose of teaching jokes, dates back to the first period of his poetic activity. Another unique work is certainly the Imagines (or Hebdomades), containing 700 portraits of Roman and foreign figures, each accompanied by a eulogy in poetry and a brief summary of life in prose.
Not only literature, since Varrone also studied the Latin language. As proof of this, his main work “De Lingua Latina” which, divided into various parts, that highlights the themes of etymology, declination and word composition.
At the center of the Varronian production there are also works about national antiquities, such as Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum, whose principal topics were related to the human and the divine.
Varrone was also the author of numerous works of political and geographical nature. Among these an important encyclopedic work on the liberal arts, Disciplinarum libri IX. No fragment of a great work on civil law is visible today, as well as other scholarly works that were of great help for later scholars. There’s only one work we received almost intact, Rerum rusticarum libri tres, written in c. 37, at the age of 80: here the protagonist is the countryside, contemplated with love and great sensitivity.
Today Rieti remembers Marco Terenzio Varrone with a bronze statue by a local artist, Dino Morsani. In Piazza Oberdan, in the city centre, Varrone sits in serene contemplation.