Victor, Sex. Aure'lius
who is commonly ranked among the Latin historians, flourished in the middle of the fourth century under the emperor Constantius and his successors.
According to his own account (de Cues.
20), that is, supposing the work from which we quote to be a genuine document, he was born in the country of very humble parents, but rose to distinction by his zeal in the cultivation of literature. Having attracted the attention of Julian when at Sirmium, he was appointed by that prince governor of one division of Pannonia.
At a subsequent period, he was elevated by Theodosius to the high office of city praefect, and there seems no good reason to doubt that he is the Sex. Aurelius Victor, who was consul along with Valentinian in A. D 373.
With regard to the period of his death, nothing is known, nor can we collect any further information concerning his life, except that it has been inferred from certain observations in the memoir of Hadrian (de Cues.
14) that he was a pagan. (Vict. de Caes.
16, 20, 28, 41; Amm. Marc. 21.10
, and the notes.)
The following works, which present in a very compressed form a continuous record of Roman affairs, from the fabulous ages down to the death of the emperor Theodosius, have all been ascribed to this writer, but the evidence upon which the determination of authorship depends, is very slender, and in all probability the third alone belongs to the Sex. Aurelius Victor whom we have noticed above.
In twenty-three chapters, containing the annals of the Roman race, from Janus and Saturnus down to the era of Romulus. We here find many curious tales and traditions derived apparently from ancient sources, and it may be regarded as a valuable contribution towards the legendary history of the city. Joannes Metellus, Ausonius Popma, and others, have assigned this tract to Asconius Pedianus, influenced chiefly by some expressions in which they conceived that the author spoke of Livy and Virgil as his contemporaries, but the passages in which these occur (23.7, 3.7, 7.4), do not fairly admit of any such interpretation, while the general tone of the phraseology certainly bears no resemblance to that of the Augustan age. On the other hand, it seems certain, from the total dissimilarity in style, that it cannot have proceeded from the same hand with the two pieces which we shall next describe ; and for this and other reasons Arntzenius has pronounced it to be the production of some of the later grammarians who were desirous of prefixing a suitable introduction to the series.
The Origo was first printed at Antwerp, 8vo. 1579, with the commentary of Andreas Schottus in a volume, containing also the three following
In eighty-six chapters, commencing with the birth of the twin sons of Mars and Ilia, and concluding with the death of Cleopatra.
The whole, or nearly the whole of the MSS. attach the name of Plinius
to this piece : by some scholars it has been given to Cornelius Nepos, by others to Aemilius Probus.
The numerous mistakes with which it abounds forbid us to fix upon any one belonging to the brighter epochs of Roman literature.
It was first printed at Naples, by Sixtus Riesinger, about 1470
, and again by Jac. de Ripoli, at Florence, in 1478
In forty-two chapters, exhibiting short biographies of the emperors, from Augustus to Constantius.
This, as we have stated, may reasonably be regarded as the work of Sex. Aurelius Victor, who was praefect of the city under Theodosius.
It was first printed at Antwerp, 8vo. 1579, with the commentary of Schottus.
Or as it is frequently styled Sex. Aurelii Victoris Epitome de Caesaribus
, in forty-eight chapters, commencing with Augustus and concluding with Theodosius.
These lives agree for the most part almost word for word with the preceding, but variations may here and there be detected, some points being lightly passed over. or altogether omitted, in the one collection, which are dwelt upon at considerable length in the other.
This will be seen clearly by comparing the sections in each on Nerva and Hadrian. Moreover. it will be remarked, that while the first series terminates with Constantius, the second comes down as low as Arcadius and Honorius. All the MSS. are inscribed with the words “Epitome Victor.
”, or “Victoris
”, or “Victorini
”, and a keen controversy has been maintained as to the real name of the abbreviator.
It seems clear, at all events, that he cannot be the Aurelius Victor who compiled the De Caesaribus :
he followed or rather copied the latter very closely, but consulted other sources, and did not consider himself bound to adhere slavishly to his statements.
The Epitome was first printed at Strasburg, 8vo. 1505
, and again by Aldus, 8vo. Venet. 1516, at the end of his edition of Suetonius
These four pieces were first published together by Andreas Schottus (8vo. Antw. 1579), who brought to light the Origo
and the De Caesaribus
from the only MS. of them known to exist, and laboured with great earnestness to prove that the whole were the work of the same writer, and that the writer was Sex. Aurelius Victor.
>The best edition which has yet appeared, is that of Jo. Arntzenius, Amst. et Traj. Bat. 1733, forming one of the Dutch Variorum Classics, in 4to.
An elaborate edition was commenced by Schroeter, of which two volumes only have been published (8vo. Lips. 1829, 1831) comprising the Origo
and the De Viris illustribus.