is quoted as an authority for the private life and habits of Alexander Severus (Lamprid. Alex. Sev.
37), with whom he seems to have been contemporary, and is classed by Vopiscus (Prob.
2) along with Marius Maximus, Suetonius Tranquillus, Julius Capitolinus and Aelius Lampridius, historians of the second class, who recorded the truth, but without eloquence or philosophy.
A short corrupt fragment on veterinary surgery, entitled Curae Boum ex Corpore Gargilii Martialis,
was transcribed under the inspection of Perizonius, at the request of Schoetgen, from a Leyden MS., and published by Gesner in his " Scriptores Rei Rusticae Veteres Latini" (2 vols. 4to. Lips. 1735), vol. ii. p. 1170, but it is impossible to determine whether the compiler of this tract, the antiquity of which has been doubted by critics, is the same person with the historian. The MS. from which it was printed was comparatively recent, but had been copied from one of more ancient date, which once belonged to the monastery of Corvey on the Weser. (See Gesner, Praef.
p. xvii. and the dissertation of Schoetgen, p. xlii.)
In the Divine Lections of Cassiodorus (100.28) we read " De hortis scripsit pulcherrime Gargilius Martialis, qui et nutrimenta olerum et virtutes eorum diligenter exposuit."
This work is frequently quoted by Palladius (e. g. iv. tit. 9.9), but not by any older writer, although Servius (ad Virg. Georg.
4.147), speaks as if Virgil had discerned him from afar with prophetic eye. No portion of it was known to exist until Angelo Mai in 1826 discovered that a palimpsest in the royal library at Naples, which had originally belonged to the celebrated monastery of St. Columbanus at Bobbio, and which was known to contain the grammarian Charisius, fragments of Lucan, and some other pieces, all of which had been examined, contained also some chapters by a writer on rural affairs, treating of quinces (De Cydoneis
), peaches (De Persicis
), almonds (De Amygdalis
), and chestnuts (De Castaneis
). Upon closer investigation it was found by comparing these with the references in Palladius to Martialis, that they must actually be regarded as a portion of his essay De Hortis.
The remains themselves, together with a full account of the Codex Rescriptus to which they belong, are included in the first volume of the Classici Auctores e Vaticanis Codicibus editi,
8vo. Rom. 1828. Nor was this all. Not long afterwards, the same scholar detected among the treasures of the Vatican, two MSS., one of the tenth, the other of the twelfth century, containing tracts upon medical subjects, in both of which was a section headed Incipit liber tertius. de pomis. Martialis
, on the sanatory properties of various fruits, and in this the details with regard to the virtues of quinces were found to correspond almost verbatim with the remarks in the Neapolitan MS., thus removing the last shade of doubt with regard to the author.
Confusion as to which Gargilius is the author
Whether, however, Gargilius Martialis the historian, Gargilius Martialis the horticulturist, and Gargilius Martialis the veterinarian, are all, or any two of them, the same, or all different personages, must in the absence of satisfactory evidence be considered as still an open question.
Mai published the Vatican fragment in the third volume of the collection named above (Rom. 1831)
, and the whole three pieces were printed together in Germany, under the title " Gargilii Martialis Gargilii quae supersunt. Editio in Germania prima. Lunaeburgi, 1832."