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.