The Ancient Library

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is even now very evident that the greater number of the stories are designed to illustrate some great moral principle. In an historical point of view the work is by no means without value, since it pre­serves a record of many curious events not to be found elsewhere ; but from the errors actually de­tected upon points where we possess more precise information, it is manifest that we must not repose implicit confidence in the statements unless where they are corroborated by collateral testimony. The writer is much too eager to make a strong impres­sion, and is willing to sacrifice both simplicity and probability for the sake of astonishing and con­founding his readers. The style, in like manner, although not destitute of force and point, is through­out constrained and ambitious, full of violent anti­theses and harsh metaphors, cumbrous and obscure. The Latinity which was pronounced by Erasmus to bear no more resemblance to that of Cicero than a mule does to a man, is of. such an inferior stamp that many critics have been unable to persuade themselves that it could have proceeded from one who bordered closely upon the Augustan age, and hence have been driven to adopt the hypothesis that what we now possess is not really the produc­tion of Valerius Maximus, but a series of extracts from him, collected and compressed by a later hand, according to the plan pursued by Justin towards Trogus Pompeius [ justin us] ; and Vossius sup­poses that this task was performed by a certain Julius Paris. Without dwelling upon the a priori argument, which is, however, very convincing, that the pages now before us contain many ornaments, many diffuse descriptions, and many grandiloquent periods, which would have been omitted, curtailed, and tamed down by an epitomator, we must make some inquiries into the extent of the original work, and these will be found to bear directly upon the origin and plausibility of the theory which we have just stated.

All the most important MSS. and the earliest printed editions present us with nine books and no more. But to a few codices a short tract is found appended on the history and import of the praeno-men among the Romans. To this are usually pre­fixed two brief introductions, first published from MSS. by Pighius. One professes to be (7. Titi Probi in Epitomen suam Praefatio, the other is anonymous ; but both regard this fragment as be­longing to an abridgment of a tenth book of Valerius Maximus, which is supposed to have discussed all the different names in use ; and the second preface ascribes the abridgement expressly to " Julius Paris, the abbreviator of Valerius," who, it is added, entitled it Liber Decimus de Praenominibus et similibus. Now, although the "Epitome de Nominum Ratione," as it is sometimes called, does not, as it stands, bear the slightest resemblance in form or in substance to the Memorabilia, and although it is hard to understand how it could, from whatever source derived, have been in any way connected with it, we are fully entitled to infer from these little prefaces that Valerius Max­imus had been abridged by a Titus Probus, and by a Julius Paris ; and, in addition to these two, a letter published by itSL\)loe.(Biblioth. MSS. vol. i. p. 669) furnishes us with the name of a third epi­tomator, Januarius Nepotianus. The belief, how­ever, that what now passes as the work of Valerius Maximus was, in truth, one of these abridgments, has been completely overthrown, in so far as Paris


and Nepotianus are concerned, by the researches of Angelo Mai, who detected in the library of the Vatican MSS. of these very abridgements, and printed them in his " Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio e Vaticanis Codicibus edita," 4to. Rom. 1828, vol. iii. pt. iii. p. 1—116. The abridgement of Julius Paris includes the whole of the nine books, and also the Liber Decimus de Praenominibus^ which terminates, it would seem, abruptly, for the index at the beginning of the MS. promises six chapters, De Praenominibus^ DeNominibus, De Cognominibus^ De Agnominibus, De Appellationibus^ De Verbis, of which the first only is extant. There is a dedica­tion likewise to a Licinius Cyriacus, in which Paris declares " decem Valerii Maximi libros dictonun et factorum memorabilium ad unum volumen epitomae coegi." This piece was unquestionably executed at a very early period, for the phraseology is very pure, and is by no means a close transcript of the original, from which the epitomator departs not only in words, but occasionally in facts also, as may be seen from the examples quoted in Mai (praef. xxii.). The abridgement of Nepotianus again is very im­perfect, breaking off in the second chapter of the third book: it belongs to a later epoch than the former, but is quite independent of it, it is more brief, passes over several of the examples given by Valerius, and substitutes others in their room. We are led to surmise that the same MS. may at one time have embraced the abridgement of Probus also, for subjoined to the conclusion of Julius Paris we read the title C. titi probi finit epitoma hlstoriarum diversorum exemplorumqub romanorum. feliciter emendavi descrip-tum rabennae rusticius helpidius dom-nulus, V. C. If these words stand upon a separate leaf, which is not quite certain from the description of Mai, we should be induced to conclude that a large number of sheets had been left out in binding up the MS., and that these had comprehended the five missing sections, "De Nominum Ratione," together with the whole abridgement of Probus. Although the question with respect to the tenth book of Valerius is involved in greater obscurity than ever by the result of the above investigations, we may now feel certain that the second and third of the three propositions by which Vossius endea­voured to get rid of the difficulties by which the subject is embarrassed, cannot be maintained. These were: 1. That Julius Paris was the epito­mator of the nine books of Valerius Maximus ; 2. That he was the author of the essay " De Nominum Ratione;" 3. That Probus merely drew up an epitome of the essay by Julius Paris.

Finally, we must not omit to point out that even before the discovery of Mai the abridgment by Paris was not altogether unknown. There is a blank in the MSS. of Valerius Maximus extending from i. 1. § 5, of the "externa exempla," down to the end of chapter IV. This hiatus Aldus filled up by an extract supplied to him by Cuspinianus, from the epitome of Paris then existing at Vienna; and this has been retained in all subsequent edi­tions, so that what we now read within the above limits are not the words of Maximus, but of Paris.

Besides the abridgements already specified, Mai found no less than three more among the MSS. of the Vatican, two of them anonymous; the third by " John the son of Andrew ;" and so late as the end of the fifteenth century Robert de Valle and

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