Quintus Ennius (c. 239 BCE–c. 169 BCE) was a Roman poet and writer. Called the father of Latin poetry, he is most famous for his Annales, a narrative poem relating the history of Rome. His mode of poetic expression dominated Latin literature and reached its greatest beauty in Virgil.
Very little is reliably understood about the life of Ennius. Born in Rudiae, Calabria, probably of Greek lineage, Ennius most likely served in the Punic Wars, and returned from Sardinia to Rome with Cato, the Elder. In Rome, Ennius taught Greek, gained the friendship of Scipio Africanus, the Elder, and achieved the rank of Roman citizen.
Ennius introduced the Greek dactylic hexameter into Latin; he introduced the double spelling of long consonants and the invention of Latin shorthand. His epic Annales, of which only 550 lines survive, became the model for Latin epic poetry. Annales is a narrative poem stating the story of Rome from the wanderings of the mythical Trojan hero Aeneas to the poet’s own day—it was the national epic until it was overshadowed by Virgil’s Aeneid.
Ennius also wrote satires, didactic verse, epigrams, and numerous plays. He adapted some 20 tragedies from the Greek, mostly Euripides. Only fragments of his works survive.