The Ancient Library

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iii. 15 ; comp. Cic. ad Att. xvi. 5), but we cannot tell whether they were ever formally collected into a volume. The Epistolae Ciceronis ad Cornelium Nepotem are adverted to under cicero, p. 743.

6. Perhaps poems also, at least he is named in the same category with Virgil, Ennius, and Accius by the younger Pliny (Ep. v. 3).

7. De Ilistoritis. In the life of Dion (c. 3), which now bears the name of Cornelius Nepos, there is the following sentence, " Sed de hoc in eo meo libro plura sunt exposita qui De Historicis con-scriptus est."

In the year 1471 a quarto volume issued from the press of Jenson at Venice, entitled Aemilii Probi de Vita excellentium^ containing biographies of twenty distinguished commanders, nineteen Greeks and one Persian, in the following order, which, it has been subsequently ascertained, obtains in all MSS.:—1. Miltiades. 2. Themistocles. 3. Aris-tides. 4. Pausanias. 5. Cimon. 6. Lysander. 7. Alcibiades. 8. Thrasybulus. 9. Conon. 10. Dion. 11. Iphicrates. 12. Chabrias. 13. Ti-motheus. 14. Datames. 15. Epaminondas. 16. Pe-lopidas. 17. Agesilaus. 18. Eumenes. 1,9. Pho-cion. 20. Timoleon. Next came three chapters headed De Regibus, presenting very brief no­tices of certain famous kings of Persia and Mace-don ia, of the elder Sicilian Dionysius, and of some of the more remarkable among the successors of Alexander. The volume concluded with a bio­graphy of Hamilcar, and a biography of Hannibal. A preface, or introduction to the lives, commenced with the words, " Non dubito fore plerosque, Attice, qui hoc genus scripturae, leve, et non satis dignum summorum virorum judicent," and prefixed to the whole was a dedication, in verse, to the em­peror Theodosius, in which we find the couplet

Si rogat Auctorem, paulatim detege nostrum Tune Domino nomen, me sciat esse Probum.

A second edition, in quarto, of the same book, without date, was printed at Venice by Bernardinus Venetus. In this a biography of Cato is added. The title in one part of the volume is Aemilii Probi Historici excellentium Imperatorum Vitae, in another Aemilii Probi de Virorum Illustrium Vita. A third edition, in quarto, without date and with­out name of place or printer, but known to belong to Milan, and to be not later than 1496, was pub­lished as Aemilius Probus de Viris Illustribus; and here we have not only the biography of Cato, but a life of Atticus also. Numerous impressions appeared during the next half century, varying from the above and from each other in no import­ant particular, except that in the Strasburg one of 1506, the life of Atticus is ascribed to Cornelius Nepos, a point in which it is supported by many MSS. But in 1569 a great sensation was pro­duced among the learned by the edition of the celebrated Dionysius Lambinus (4to. Paris, 1569), who not only revised the text with much care, but strenuously maintained that the whole work was the production of that Cornelius Nepos who flou­rished towards the close of the Roman republic, and not of an unknown Aemilius Probus, living at the end of the fourth century. The arguments upon which he chiefly insisted were,—

1. The extreme purity of the Latinity, and the chaste simplicity of the style, which exhibit a striking contrast to the semi-barbarian jargon and meretricious finery of the later empire. Every



critical scholar must feel the weight of this obser­vation.

<2. The person addressed in the preface or intro­duction must be Pomponius Atticus, the friend of Cicero. This is fully proved by a passage in the life of Cato (sub fin.) where we read, " Hujus de vita et moribus plura in eo libro persecuti sumus quern separatim de eo fecimus rogatu Pomponii Attici" words which are unquestionably perfectly decisive in so far as the memoir in which they occur is concerned, but this, as we have seen, was not included in the original edition, is wanting in some MSS., and, along with the Atticus^ separated, as it were, from the rest in all.

3. The lofty tone in which the grandeur and power of the Roman people are celebrated, the boldness of the comments on free institutions and tyrants, would have been totally out of place at an epoch of degradation and slavery. Allusions, also, it is affirmed, may be detected to the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. Upon a careful examination of all the quotations adduced it will be seen that no weight ought to be attached to this portion of the proof.

4. Lambinus was informed, upon what he con­sidered good authority, that one MS. ended in this manner, " Completum est opus Aemilii Probi, Cor-nelii Nepotis." But even if we admit the accu­racy of a statement vouched for so imperfectly, it leads to no result, for the first clause might be in­tended to assign the 20 biographies, the De Regi-bus9 the Hamilcar and the Hannibal, to Probus ; the concluding phrase to mark Nepos as the author of the Cato and the Atticus.

The question thus started has given rise to in­terminable discussions ; but the leading hypotheses may be reduced to three.

I. Many .of the contemporaries of Lambinus, unable or unwilling to abandon the belief in which they had been reared, and clinging to the verses addressed to Theodosius, doggedly maintained that the old opinion was after all true, and that all the lives, except perhaps those of Cato and Atticus* which stood upon somewhat different ground, were the property of Probus, and of no one else. This position is now very generally abandoned.

II. Lambinus, as we have seen, pronounced the lives to belong entirely to Cornelius Nepos. Those who support this hypothesis, which has been more widely received than any other, hold, that what we now possess may be regarded, either as a por­tion of the voluminous collection, De Viris Illustri­bus, or as an independent work, which, having fallen into oblivion, was brought to light by Aemilius Probus, who fraudulently endeavoured to palm it off as his own ; or, perhaps, meant to do nothing more than claim the credit of having dis­covered and described it ; or, that the verses in question, which are absent from several MSS., re­fer to some totally different production, and have by mere accident found their way into their pre^ sent position.

III. Barthius, steering a middle course, threw out that the biographies, as they now exist, are in reality epitomes of lives actually written by Nepos, and that we ought to look upon Probus as the ab-breviator ; others, adopting the general idea, think it more likely that the abridgments were executed at an earlier period.

Without attempting to enter at large into the merits of these conflicting systems, and of the

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