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Memmius, Gaius

MEMMIUS, GAIUS (incorrectly called Gemellus, " The Twin "), Roman orator and poet, tribune of the people (66 B.C.), friend of Lucretius and Catullus. At first a strong supporter of Pompey , he quarrelled with him, and went over to Caesar, whom he had previously attacked. In 54, as candidate for the consulship, he lost Caesar's support by revealing a scandalous transaction in which he and his fellow candidate had been implicated (Cic. Ad Alt. iv. 15-18). Being subsequently condemned for illegal practices at the election, he withdrew to Athens, and afterwards to Mytilene. He died about the year 49. He is remembered chiefly because it was to him that Lucretius addressed the De rerum nalura, perhaps with the idea of making him a convert to the doctrines of Epicurus. It appears from Cicero (Ad Fam. xiii. i) that he possessed an estate on which were the ruins of Epicurus' house, and that he had determined to build on the site a house for himself. According to Ovid (Trist. ii. 433) he was the author of erotic poems. He possessed considerable oratorical abilities, but his contempt for Latin letters and preference for Greek models impaired his efficiency as an advocate (Cic. Brut. 70).

Another GAIUS MEMMIUS, tribune in in B.C., attacked the aristocrats on a charge of corrupt relations with Jugurtha. Memmius subsequently stood for the consulship in 99, but was slain in a riot stirred up by his rival the praetor Glaucia. Sallust describes him as an orator, but Cicero (De oratore, ii. 59, 70) had a poor opinion of him.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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