What Happened to Cinna the Poet?


Quick Answer

One hypothesis about the death of the Roman poet Gaius Helvius Cinna is that he was killed in 44 B.C. after being mistaken for Cornelius Cinna, a conspirator in the assassination of Caesar. However, Virgil's ninth eclogue, written around 40 B.C., mentions Cinna the poet was alive at the time.

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Full Answer

Neither account is backed by hard evidence. Early second- and third-century historians Suetonius, Valerius Maximus, Appian, Plutarch and Dio Cassius all disclose a story about Cinna's death at the hands of the mob incited after Caesar's funeral. They mention that Cinna was a tribune. Plutarch is the only one who mentions that Cinna was a poet. The interpretation of Virgil's lines mentioning Cinna is not definitively agreed upon.

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