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pretended to design the prefecture of Egypt, a place of the highest trust (Tac. Ann. ii. 59, Hist. i. 11), for Macro. But hatred at ^length prevailed over dissimulation, and Macro, his wife Ennia, and his children, were all compelled to die by a master whose life he hail thrice saved, and who owed his empire to the power and preference of his victim. (Tac. Ann. vi. 15, 23, 29, 38, 45, 47, 48, 50 ; Suet. Tib. 73, Gal 12, 23, 26 ; Dion Cass. Iviii. 9, 12,13,18,21,24,25,27,28,lix. 1. 10 ; Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 6. § 6, 7 ; Philo, Legat. ad Caium^ p. 994, in Place, p. 967.) [W. B. D.]
-Aurelius Tlieodosius Macrobius are the names usually prefixed to the works of this author. One MS. is said to add the designation Oriniocensis^ which in a second appears under the form Orni-censis or Ornicsis, words supposed to be corruptions of OneirocensiS) and to bear, reference to the commentary on the dream (oveipos) of Scipio ; in a third we meet with the epithet Sicetini^ which some critics have proposed to derive from Sicca in Nu-midia, others from Sicenus or Sicinus, one of the Sporades. Both Parma and Ravenna have claimed the honour of giving him birth, but we have no evidence of a satisfactory description to determine the place of his nativity. We can, however, pronounce with certainty, upon his own express testimony (Sat. i. praef.), that he was not a Roman, and that Latin was to him a foreign tongue, while from the hellenic idioms with which his style abounds we should be led to conclude that he was
-a Greek. From the personages whom he introduces in the Saturnalia, and represents as his contemporaries, we are entitled to conclude that he
-lived about the beginning of the fifth century, but
-of his personal history or of the social position which he occupied we know absolutely nothing. In the Codex Theodosianus, it is true, a law of Constantine, belonging to the year a. d. 326, is preserved, addressed to a certain Maximianus .Macrobius, another of Honorius (a. d. 399) addressed to Macrobius, propraefect of the Spains, another of Arcadius and Honorius (a. d. 400), addressed to Vincentius, praetorian praefect of the Gauls, in which mention is made of a Macrobius as Vicarius; another of Honorius (a. d. 410), addressed to Macrobius, proconsul of Africa; and a rescript of Honorius and Theodosius (a. d. 422), addressed to Florentius, praefect of the city, in which it is set forth, that in consideration of the merits of Macrobius (styled Vir illustns\ the office of praepositus sacri cubiculi shall from that time forward be esteemed as equal in dignity to those of the praetorian praefect, of the praefect of the city, and of the magister militum ; but we possess no clue which would lead us to identify any of these dignitaries with the ancestors or kindred of the grammarian, or with the grammarian himself. In codices he is generally termed v. c. et inl., that is, Vir clarus (not consularis) et inlustris, but no information is conveyed by such vague complimentary titles. It has been maintained that he is the Theodosius to whom Avianus- dedicates his fables, a proposition scarcely worth combating, even if we could fix with certainty the epoch to which
-these fables belong. [avianus.-] When we state, therefore, that Macrobius flourished in the age of Honorius and Theodosius, that he was probably a Greek, and that he had a son named Eustathius, we include every thing that can be asserted with
confidence or conjectured with plausibility. The works which have descended to us are,
I. Saturnaliorum Conviviorum Libri VIL9 consisting of a series of curious and valuable dissertations on history, mythology, criticism, and various points of antiquarian research, supposed to have been delivered during the holidays of the Saturnalia at the house of Vettius Praetextatus,who was invested with the highest offices of state under Valentinian and Valens. The form of the work is avowedly copied from the dialogues of Plato, especially the Banquet: in substance it bears a strong resemblance to the Noctes Atticae of A. Gellius, from whom, as well as from Plutarch, much has been borrowed. It is in fact a sort of commonplace book, in which information collected from a great variety of sources, many of which are now lost, is arranged with some attention to system, and brought to bear upon a limited number of subjects. The individual who discourses most largely is Praetextatus himself, but the celebrated Aurelius Symmachus, Flavianus the brother of Symmachus, Caecina Albinus, Servius the grammarian, and several other learned men of less note, are present during the conversations, and take a part in the debates. The author does not appear in his own person, except in the introduction addressed to his son Eustathius ; but a pleader named Postumianus relates to a friend Decius the account, which he had received from a rhetorician Eusebius, who had been .present during the greater part of the discussions, both of what he had himself heard and of what he had learned from others with regard to the proceedings during the period when he had been absent. Such is the clumsy machinery of the piece. The first book is occupied with an inquiry into the attributes and festivals of Saturnus and Janus, a complete history and analysis of the Roman calendar, and an exposition of the theory according to which all deities and all modes of worship might be deduced from the worship of the sun. The second book commences with a collection of bon mots, ascribed to the most celebrated wits of antiquity, among whom Cicero and Augustus hold a conspicuous place ; to these are appended a series of essays on matters connected with the pleasures of the table, a description of some choice fishes and fruits, and a chapter on the sumptuary laws. The four following books are devoted to criticisms on Virgil. In the third is pointed out the deep and accurate acquaintance with holy, rites possessed by the poet; the fourth illustrates his rhetorical skill; in the fifth he is compared with Homer, and numerous passages are adduced imitated from the Iliad and Odyssey ; the sixth contains a catalogue of the obligations which he owed to his own countrymen. The seventh book is of-a more miscellaneous character than the preceding, comprising among other matters an investigation of various questions connected with the physiology of the human frame, such as the comparative digestibility of different kinds of food, why persons who whirl round in a circle become affected with giddiness, why shame or joy calls up a blush upon the cheek, why fear produces paleness, and in general in what way the brain exercises an influence upon the members of the body.
IL Commentarius ex Cicerone in Somnium Sci-pionis, a tract which was greatly admired and extensively studied during the middle ages. The Dream of Scipio, contained in the sixth book of