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Falco'nia Proba

a poetess, greatly admired in the middle ages, but whose real name, and the place of whose nativity, are uncertain.

We find her called Flatonia Veccia, Faltonia Anicia, Valeria Faltonia Proba, and Proba Valeria; while Rome, Orta, and sundry other cities, claim the honour of her birth. Most historians of Roman literature maintain that she was the noble Anicia Faltonia Proba., the wife of Olybrius Probus, otherwise called Hermogeniains Olybrius, whose name appears in the Fasti as the colleague of Ausonius, A. D. 379; the mother of Olybrius and Probinus, whose joint consulate has been celebrated by Claudian; and, according to Procopius, the traitress by whom the gates of Rome were thrown open to Alaric and his Goths. But there seems to be no evidence for this identification; and we must fall back upon the testimony of Isidorus, with whose words, " Proba uxor Adelfii Proconsulis," our knowledge begins and ends, unless we attach weight to a notice found at the end of one of the MS. copies written in the tenth century, quoted by Montfaucon in his Diarium Italicum (p. 36), "Proba uxor Adolphi mater Olibrii et Aliepii cum Constantii bellum adversus Magnentium conscripsisset, conscripsit et hunc librum."


The only production of Falconia now extant is a Cento Virgilianus, inscribed to the Emperor Honorius, in terms which prove that the dedication must have been written after A. D. 393, containing narratives in hexameter verse of striking events in the Old and New Testament, expressed in lines, half lines, or shorter portions of lines derived exclusively from the poems of Virgil, which are completely exhausted in the process. Of course no praise, except what is merited by idle industry and clever dullness, is due to this patch-work; and we cannot but marvel at the gentle terms employed by Boccacio and Henry Stephens in reference to such trash. We learn from the prooemium that she had published other pieces, of which one upon the civil wars is particularly specified, but of these no trace remains. The Homerocentones, by some ascribed to Falconia, belong in reality to Eudoxia.


The Cento Virgilianus was first printed at Venice, fol. 1472, in a volume containing also the Epigrams of Ausonius, the Consolatio ad Liviam, the pastorals of Calpurnius, together with some hymns and other poems; this was followed, in the same century, by the editions published at Rome, 4to. 1481; at Antwerp, 4to. 1489, and at Brixia, 8vo. 1496. The most elaborate are those of Meibomius. Helmst. 4to. 1597, and of Kromayer, Hal. Magd. 8vo. 1710.

Further Information

see also the Bibliotheca Max. Patrum, Lugdun. 1677, vol. v. p. 1218; Isidor. Orig. 1.38, 25, de Script. Eccles. 5.


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