We possess a short tract bearing the title Lucii Ampelii Liber Memorialis. It was first made known by Salmasius, in 1638
, from a MS. in the library of Juretus, and subsequent editors following his example have generally appended it to editions of Florus. We conclude from internal evidence (cc. 29, 47), that it must have been composed after the reign of Trajan, and before the final division of the Roman empire. Himerius, Ammianus Marcellinus, and Symmachus make frequent mention of an Ampelius, who enjoyed the high dignities of magister officiorum, proconsul and praefectus urbi under Valentinian and his immediate successors, and the name occurs in connexion with thirteen laws of the Theodosian code. Sidonius Apollinaris also (9.301) commemorates the learning of an Ampelius, but we nowhere find any allusion which would enable us to establish a connexion between the person or persons spoken of by these writers and the compiler of the Liber Memorialis. On the contrary Gläser has addnced reasons (in Rheinisches Museum
for 1842, p. 145), which render it probable that the author of the Liber Memorialis lived at an earlier time than the above-mentioned persons.
It is stated in c. 18 of this book, “Sulla --------- primus invasit imperium, solusque deposuit.
” Now as Diocletian and Maximianus resigned the government in A. D. 305 , and this event is spoken of by all the historians who treat of that period, the Liber Memorialis would seem to have been composed at least before that year.
This work, which is dedicated to a certain Macrinus or Marinus, equally unknown with the author himself, is a sort of common-place-book, containing within a short compass a condensed and meagre summary, collected from various sources, of the most striking objects and phaenomena of the material universe and the most remarkable events in the history of the world, the whole classified systematically under proper heads , and divided into fifty chapters.
It is of little value in any point of view. Nearly all the facts recorded are to be found elsewhere in a more detailed and satisfactory form, and truth is so blended with falsehood, and the blunders committed so numerous, that it cannot be used with safety for reference.
The style, where it is not a mere catalogue of names, is simple and unaffected, but both in the construction of the sentences and in the use of particular words, we can detect many traces of corrupted latinity.
The commentaries and criticisms of Salmasius, Muretus, Freinsheim, Heinsius, Perizonius and other scholars will be found in the edition of Duker at the end of his Florus. (Lug. Bat. 1722-1744, and reprinted at Leips. 1832.)
Ampelius was first published in a separate form, with very useful prolegomena, by Tzschucke (Leips. 1793)
, and subsequently by Pockwitz (Lünenb. 1823)
, and F. A. Beck. (Leips. 1826.)