Mae·​ce·​nas | \ mi-ˈsē-nəs How to pronounce Maecenas (audio) \

Definition of Maecenas

: a generous patron especially of literature or art

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Although the ancient Roman Gaius Maecenas was a well-known diplomat and counselor to Emperor Augustus, it was his munificent patronage of literature that immortalized his name as a word for "a generous patron." A writer himself, Maecenas knew of the power of poetry and viewed it as a way to glorify Augustus's regime. Among the poets he patronized were the celebrated Virgil and Horace - both of whom he befriended. Maecenas has also been credited with encouraging both writers to focus more on topics of public interest, such as affairs of state.

Examples of Maecenas in a Sentence

the opera company no longer has an array of moneyed Maecenases to which it can turn for financial support

First Known Use of Maecenas

1542, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Maecenas

Latin, from Gaius Maecenas †8 b.c. Roman statesman & patron of literature

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The first known use of Maecenas was in 1542

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Cite this Entry

“Maecenas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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Maecenas biographical name

Mae·​ce·​nas | \ mi-ˈsē-nəs How to pronounce Maecenas (audio) \

Definition of Maecenas

Gaius circa 70–8 b.c. Roman statesman and patron of literature


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