a name borne by several celebrated Roman grammarians, whom it is difficult to distinguish from each other.
Grammarians named Probus
M. Valerius Probus
1. M. Valerius
Probus, of Berytus, who having served in the army, and having long applied without success for promotion, at length betook himself, in disgust, to literary pursuits.
He belongs to the age of Nero, since he stands last in order in the catalogue of Suetonius, immediately after Q. Remmius Palaemon, who flourished in the reigns of Tiberius, Caius, and Claudius; this is fully confirmed by the notice of Jerome in the Eusebian chronicle under Olympiad CCIX, I. (A. D. 56-7): "Probus Berytius eruditissimus grammaticorumn Romae agnoscitur."
Chance led him to study the more ancient writers, and he occupied himself in illustrating (“emendare ac distinguere et adnotare curavit
”) their works.
He published a few trifling remarks on some matters of minute controversy (“nimis pauca et exigua de quibusdam minutis quaestiunculis edidit
”), and left behind him a considerable body of observations (“silvam
”) on the earlier forms of the language. Although not in the habit of giving regular instructions to pupils, he had some admirers (“sectatores
”), of whom he would occasionally admit three or four to benefit by his lore. To this Probus we may, with considerable probability, assign those annotations on Terence, from which fragments are quoted in the Scholia on the dramatist.
Sueton. de illus. Gramm.
24; Schopfen, de Terentio et Donato eius interprete,
8vo. Bonn, 1821, p. 31.)
2. Valerius Probus
, termed by Macrobius "Vir perfectissimus," flourished some years before A. Gellius, and therefore about the beginning of the second century.
He was the author of commentaries on Virgil, and possessed a copy of a portion at least of the Georgics, which had been corrected by the hand of the poet himself.
These are the commentaries so frequently cited by Servius ; but the Scholia in Bucolica et Georgica,
now extant, under the name of Probus, belong to a much later period. (Gel. 1.15.18
; Macr. 22
; Heyne, de antiq. Virgi. interprett.
subjoined to his notices "De Virgilii editionibus.")
It must not be concealed, that many plausible reasons, founded upon the notices contained in the Noctes Atticae, may be adduced for believing that the Valerius Probus of Gellius is one and the same person with the Probus Berytius of Suetonius and Hieronymus, for although Gellius, who speaks of having conversed with the pupils and friends of Valerius Probus, did not die before A. D. 180, it is by no means impossible, as far as we know to the contrary, that Probus Berytius might have lived on to the beginning of the second century, although the words of Martial (Mart. 3.2
) cannot be admitted as evidence of the fact.
This view has been adopted and ably supported by Jahn in the Prolegomena to his edition of Persius, 8vo. Lips. 1843 (p. cccxxxvi. &c.).
The chief difficulty, however, after all, arises from the chronology. Probus of Berytus is represented by Suetonius as having lony
sought the post of a centurion, and as having not applied himself to literature until he had lost all hopes of success; hence he must have been well advanced in life before he commenced his studies, and consequently, in all probability, must have been an old man in A. D. 57, when he was recognised at Rome as the most learned of grammarians. Moreover, a scholar who in the age of Nero undertook to illustrate Virgil, could scarcely with propriety have been represented as devoting himself to the ancient writers, who had fallen into neglect and almost into oblivion, for such is the meaning we should naturally attach to the words of Suetonius.
Works ascribed to Probus
Life of Persius
The life of Persius
, commonly ascribed to Suetonius, is found in many of the best MSS. of the Satirist with the title Vita A. Persii Flacci de Cormmentario Probi Valerii sublata.
Now since this biography bears evident marks of having been composed by some one who lived at a period not very distant from the events which he relates, we may fairly ascribe it to the commentator on Virgil.
4. Scholia on Juvenal
The name of the ancient scholiast on Juvenal was, according to Valla, by whom he was first published, Probus Grammaticus.
See In D. Junii Juv. Satt. Comment. vetusti post Pothoei Curas, ed. D. A. G. Cramer, 8vo. Hamb. 1823, p. 5.
In the Grammaticae Latinae auctores antiqui, 4to. Hannov. 1605, p. 1386-1494
, we find a work upon grammar, in two books, entitled M. Valerii Probi Grammaticae Institutiones,
with a preface in verse, addressed to a certain Coelestinus.
The first book treats briefly of letters, syllables, the parts of speech and the principles of prosody.
The second book, termed Catholica,
comprises general rules for the declension of nouns and verbs, with a few remarks on the arrangement of words and examples of the different species of metrical feet, corresponding throughout so closely with the treatise of M. Claudius Sacerdos [see PLOTIUS MARIUS], that it is evident that one of these writers must have copied from the other, or that both must have derived their materials from a common source.
The text of this Probus has lately received important improvements from a collation of the Codex Bobiensis, now at Vienna, and appears under its best form in the Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum of Lindemann, 4to. Lips. 1831, vol. i. pp. 39-148
The lines to Coelestinus are included in the Anthol. Lat. of Burmann, vol. i. addend. p. 739, or No. 205, ed. Meyer
In the same collection by Putschius, p. 1496-1541
, is contained M. Valerii Probi Grammatici de Notis Romanorum Interpretandis Libellus,
an explanation of the abbreviations employed in inscriptions and writings of various kinds.
Endlicher, in his Analecta Grammatica,
has published, from a Codex Bobiensis, now at Vienna, a fragment Valerii Probi de Nomine.
It is not unlikely that the same individual may be the author of the three pieces last named, but this is a point on which it is vain to speak with confidence.
Osann, Beitriäge zur Griechisch. und Romisch. Literatur Geschichte, ii. p. 283
; Jahn, l.c.
; Suringar, Historia Critica Scholiast. Lat.