Classical Quarterly 37 (02):512- (1987)
AbstractThe contents of the sixth book of Ennius' Annals have recently become a matter of dispute. Ever since Columna's edition it had been assumed that the book was entirely given over to the story of the war against king Pyrrhus . That view was based on the anecdote told by Quintilian 6.3.6, that Cicero, asked to say something de Sexto Annali, a witness in a law case, replied: ‘Quis potis ingentis oras euoluere belli’. It seems as good as certain that this was the first line of Book VI, and belli was taken by all as referring to the Pyrrhus war. According to Dr T. Cornell, however, ‘unrolling the mighty scroll of war’ means that the poet is now going to describe warfare on the grand scale, thus setting the sequence of the third Samnite War, the Pyrrhus War, and the second Punic War against the minor wars described in the first five books. I doubt if Ennius would have felt that the early Latin war with the story of Lake Regillus, the capture of Veii, the Allia, the fall of Rome to the Gauls, and the second Samnite war were minor wars; but I am certain that bellum in the singular, except in contrast to the notion of pax, cannot refer to war in a general sense, covering a plurality of wars
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