Marcus Terentios Varro, a Roman scholar, born in the Sabine town of Reate in 116 B. C, died in 28. He received a liberal education, held a high office in the navy in the wars against the pirates and against Mithridates, and at the commencement of the civil war was serving in Spain as legate of Pompey. "When Caesar marched into that country after the reduction of Italy, Varro was obliged to surrender his forces; but still adhering to the aristocratic party, he joined Pompey in Greece and remained faithful to him until the victory of Pharsalia (48) had made Caesar master of the Roman world. Varro's villa at Casinum was taken and plundered by Antony, but Caesar treated him kindly, and employed him to superintend the collection and arrangement of the works in the library at Rome designed for the public use. From this time Varro lived in retirement. During the second triumvirate he was put by Antony on the list of the proscribed, but by the aid of friends his life was saved, though his libraries were destroyed. Augustus appointed him superintendent of the library founded by Asinius Pollio. According to a list traceable to himself, Yarro wrote 74 works in 500 or 600 books, including several in metrical form, and prose treatises on nearly all brandies of knowledge and literature.
All these have perished except the Rerum Rusticarum Libri III., the only one that has been preserved entire, and De Lingua Latina, of the original 24 books of which only books v. to x. remain in a mutilated state. The former is a dialogue after the manner of Cicero's philosophical writings, but far more, graphic, and replete with puns on the names of his characters. The best edition is in the Scriptores Rei Rusticm Veteres Latini of J. G. Schneider (4 vols. 8vo, Leipsic, lT94-'7). It has been translated into English by the Rev. T. Owen (Oxford, 1800). The linguistic value of Yarro's grammatical fragment is very unequal, and the style is uncouth and awkward. The first edition is by Pomponius Lsetus (Rome, 1471); recent editions are by Muller (Leipsic, 1833) and Egger (Paris, 1837). Varro was sometimes called Reatinus from his estate at Reate.