Cornelius Nepos

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The beginning of the De excellentibus ducibus exterarum gentium manuscript Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria , Q.4.15 (= Cod. Lat. 437), fol. 1r

Cornelius Nepos (* around 100 BC; † after 28 BC) was a Roman historian and biographer. Nepos, who came from Northern Italy ( Gallia cisalpina ) and was probably a knight , was friends with the neoteric poet Catullus , who dedicated his collection of poems to him, Marcus Tullius Cicero and Titus Pomponius Atticus .

Of his numerous works (including histories and a description of the earth), only a few biographies from De viris illustribus have survived , namely those about the non-Roman generals and those about Cato the Elder and Atticus , which belong to the book of the Latin historians .

The Nepos manuscripts also contain two fragments of a letter from Cornelia , the mother of the Gracchi , in which she violently attacks her son Gaius Sempronius Gracchus . However, the authenticity of the letter is disputed.

Nepos does not report hatefully about Hannibal , like other Romans, but gives him the fame he deserves. Overall, his style is simple and businesslike.

Because of this simple style, Nepos' works were and are widespread school reading.

In addition to fragments, the following life stories have been preserved. De excellentibus ducibus exterarum gentium: Miltiades ; Themistocles ; Aristeides ; Pausanias ; Kimon ; Lysander ; Alkibiades ; Thrasybulus ; Conon ; Dion ; Iphikrates ; Chabrias ; Timotheus ; Datames ; Epaminondas ; Pelopidas ; Agesilaos ; Eumenes ; Phocion ; Timoleon ; De regibus: Hamilkar ; Hannibal ; De Latinis historicis: M. Porcius Cato ; T. Pomponius Atticus .


In order to be able to easily understand the progress of the research, the entries in the respective rubrics are arranged in chronological order. The most important titles are listed in a selection in all sections. Further literature on Cornelius Nepos can be researched in the bibliographies (see below).

Editions, translations and commentaries

  • Cornelius Nepos . Explained by Dr. Karl Nipperdey. Leipzig 1849. later with the addition: The larger edition, second edition, obtained from Dr. Bernhard Lupus. Berlin 1879. last with the addition: Edited by Kurt Witte . 14th edition, Olms, Hildesheim 2002 (still the authoritative basic overall commentary).
  • Cornelii Nepotis Vitae cum fragmentis, edidit Peter K. Marshall ( Bibliotheca Teubneriana ). Teubner, Leipzig 1977, 4th edition Munich / Leipzig 2001 (authoritative text-critical edition).
  • Cornelius Nepos. De viris illustribus - biographies of famous men. Latin / German . Translated and edited by Peter Krafft and Felicitas Olef-Krafft. Reclam, Stuttgart 1993, 2nd edition 2006.
  • Cornelius Nepos. Latin-German. Edited by Gerhard Wirth . Hakkert, Amsterdam 1994 (last complete commentary on Cornelius Nepos).
  • Cornelius Nepos. Famous men. De viris illustribus. Latin – German. Edited and translated by Michaela Pfeiffer with the assistance of Rainer Nickel ( Tusculum Collection ). Artemis and Winkler, Düsseldorf 2006.

Research literature: monographs and collections of articles

  • James Robert Bradley: The Sources of Cornelius Nepos' Selected Lives . Harvard 1967 (dissertation).
  • Thomas Gordon McCarty: Cornelius Nepos. Studies in his Technique of Biography . Ann Arbor 1970 (reprinted 1984).
  • Joseph Geiger: Cornelius Nepos and Ancient Political Biography (= Historia individual writings. Volume 47). Steiner, Stuttgart 1985.
  • Sabine Anselm: Structure and transparency. A literary analysis of the general vitae of Cornelius Nepos (= Colloquium of Classical Studies. Volume 11). Steiner, Stuttgart 2004.
  • Rex Stem: The Political Biographies of Cornelius Nepos . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 2012.
  • Giorgio Bernardi Perini, Alberto Cavarzere (eds.): Orizzonti culturali di Cornelio Nipote. Dal Po a Roma. Atti del Convegno, Ostiglia, April 27, 2012 - Mantova, April 28, 2012 (= Accademia Nazionale Virgiliana di Scienze Lettere e Arti. Miscellanea. Volume 22). Olschki, Florence 2013.
  • Boris Dunsch, Felix M. Prokoph (Ed.): Past and present. Contributions to Cornelius Nepos from specialist science, specialist didactics and teaching practice. With a research report and a working bibliography (= Philippika. Classical Studies. Volume 91). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2015.

Introductory articles and essays

  • Ulrich Fleischer : To Cornelius Nepos. In: Hartmut Erbse (ed.): Festschrift Bruno Snell , presented by friends and students on his 60th birthday on June 18, 1956. CH Beck, Munich 1956, pp. 197-208.
  • Otto Schönberger : Cornelius Nepos. Mediocre writer. In: The ancient world. Volume 16, 1970, pp. 153-163.
  • László Havas: On the historical conception of Cornelius Nepos . In: Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. Volume 31, 1985/1986, pp. 401-411.
  • Carlotta Dionisotti : Nepos and the Generals. In: Journal of Roman Studies. Volume 78, 1988, pp. 35-49.
  • Niklas Holzberg : Literary tradition and political statement in the Feldherrnviten of Cornelius Nepos . In: Würzburg Yearbooks for Classical Studies. New Series, Volume 15, 1989, pp. 159-173; republished in: Suggestion. Volume 35, 1989, pp. 14-27.
  • Rüdiger Kinsky: Nepos . In: Oliver Schütze (Ed.): Lexicon of ancient authors . Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1997, pp. 469-471.
  • Ulrich Schindel : Cornelius Nepos (approx. 110 - after 27 BC) . In: Volker Reinhardt (Hrsg.): Main works of historiography (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 435). Kröner, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-520-43501-2 , pp. 453-456.
  • Christopher Tuplin: Nepos and the Origins of Political Biography . In: Carl Deroux (Ed.): Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History. Vol X (= Collection Latomus. Volume 254). Editions Latomus, Brussels 2000, pp. 124–161.
  • Andreas Mehl : Roman historiography. Basics and developments. An introduction. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 2001, pp. 75–77.
  • Holger Sonnabend : History of the ancient biography. From Isocrates to the Historia Augusta. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2002, pp. 107-113.
  • Fritz-Heiner Mutschler : Consideration of history and value orientation in Nepos and Sallust . In: Andreas Halthoff, Andreas Heil, Fritz-Heiner Mutschler (Eds.): O tempora, o mores! Roman values ​​and Roman literature in the last decades of the republic (= contributions to antiquity. Volume 171). De Gruyter, Munich / Leipzig 2003, pp. 259–285.
  • Frances Titchener: Cornelius Nepos and the Biographical Tradition. In: Greece and Rome. Volume 50, 2003, pp. 85-99.
  • Joachim Klowski: Attitudes of specialist science and specialist didactics to Cornelius Nepos in the past and present. In: Forum Classicum. Volume 47, 2004, pp. 195-203.
  • Heinrich Heidenreich: Nepos (Cornelius Nepos). In: Christine Walde (Ed.): The reception of ancient literature. Kulturhistorisches Werklexikon (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 7). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-476-02034-5 , Sp. 537-548.
  • Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman literature, from Andronicus to Boëthius and their continued work . Volume 1. 3rd, improved and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2012, pp. 402–412.
  • Boris Dunsch: Omne aevum tribus explicare cartis - On the friendship of Nepos and Catullus . In: Antiquity and the Occident. Volume 58, 2012, pp. 37-51.


  • Boris Dunsch, Felix M. Prokoph: Working bibliography on Cornelius Nepos . In: Boris Dunsch, Felix M. Prokoph (Hrsgg.): Past and present. Contributions to Cornelius Nepos from specialist science, specialist didactics and teaching practice. With a research report and a working bibliography (= Philippika. Classical Studies. Volume 91). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2015, pp. 331–449.
  • Yannick Spies: Kornel Bibliography. The entire literature by and about Cornelius Nepos up to the end of 2015 (= Kalliope. Studies on Greek and Latin poetry. Volume 14). Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-8253-6782-4 .

Web links

Wikisource: Cornelius Nepos  - Sources and full texts