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Gaius Asinius Pollio

Gaius Asinius Pollio (75 or 76 BC-AD 5) was a Roman orator, poet and historian.

In 54 he impeached unsuccessfully C. Porcius Cato, who in his tribunate (56) had acted as the tool of the triumvirs. In the civil war between Caesar and Pompey Pollio sided with Caesar, was present at the battle of Pharsalus (48), and commanded against Sextus Pompeius in Spain, where he was at the time of Caesar's assassination.

He subsequently threw in his lot with Marcus Antonius. In the division of the provinces, Gaul fell to Antony, who entrusted Pollio with the administration of Gallia Transpadana (the part of Cisalpine Gaul between the Po and the Alps). In superintending the distribution of the Mantuan territory amongst the veterans, he used his influence to save from confiscation the property of the poet Virgil.

In 40 he helped to arrange the peace of Brundisium by which Octavian (Augustus) and Antonius were for a time reconciled. In the same year Pollio entered upon his consulship, which had been promised him in 43. It was at this time that Virgil addressed the famous fourth eclogue to him.

Next year Pollio conducted a successful campaign against the Parthini, an Illyrian people who adhered to Marcus Junius Brutus, and celebrated a triumph on October 25. The eighth eclogue of Virgil was addressed to Pollio while engaged in this campaign.

From the spoils of the war he constructed the first public library at Rome, in the Atrium Libertatis, also erected by him (Pliny, Nat. hist. xxxv. 10), which he adorned with statues of the most celebrated heroes.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.