as Lipsius and others have imagined, a Latin grammarian, with regard to whose history we possess no source of information except his own book. From this we gather that he was of good family and connections, a native probably of Rome; that he had travelled much, especially in Greece, and had resided for a considerable period at Athens; that he had studied rhetoric under T. Castricius and Sulpicius Apollinaris, philosophy under Calvisius Taurus and Peregrinus Proteus, enjoying also the friendship and instructions of Favorinus, Herodes Atticus, and Cornelius Fronto; that while yet a youth he had been appointed by the praetor to act as an umpire in civil causes; and that subsequently much of the time which he would gladly have devoted to literary pursuits had been occupied by judicial duties of a similar description.
The precise date of his birth, as of his death, is unknown; but from the names of his preceptors and companions we conclude that he must have lived under Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and M. Aurelius, A. D. 117-180.
His well-known work entitled Noctes Atticae,
because it was composed in a country-house near Athens during the long nights of winter, is a sort of miscellany, containing numerous extracts from Greek and Roman writers, on a great variety of topics connected with history, antiquities, philosophy, and philology, interspersed with original remarks, dissertations, and discussions, the whole thrown together into twenty books, without any attempt at order or arrangement. We here find preserved a multitude of curious and interesting passages from authors whose works have perished, and a vast fund of information elucidating questions which must otherwise have remained obscure; but the style is deformed by that species of affectation which was pushed to extravagant excess by Apuleius--the frequent introduction of obsolete words and phrases derived for the most part from the ancient comic dramatists.
The eighth book is entirely lost with the exception of the index, and a few lines at the beginning of the sixth were long wanting, until the deficiency was supplied from the Epitome of the Divine Institutions of Lactantius (100.28), first published in a complete form in 1712, by Pfaff, from a MS. in the loyal Library at Turin. [LACTANTIUS.] It is not probable that any portion of the Noctes Atticae
was moulded into shape before A. D. 143, since, in the second chapter of the first book, Herodes Atticus is spoken of as " consulari honore praeditus," and the seventeenth chapter of the thirteenth book contains an allusion to the second consulship of Erucius Clarus, which belongs to A. D. 146.
The Editio Princeps of A. Gellius was printed at Rome, fol. 1469, by Sweynheym and Pannartz, with a prefatory epistle by Andrew, afterwards bishop of Aleria, to Pope Paul II.; was reprinted at the same place by the same typographers in 1472, followed or preceded by the beautiful impression of Jenson, fol. Ven. 1472
; and at least seven other editions of less note came forth in Italy, chiefly at Venice, before the close of the fifteenth century
The first which can advance any claim to a critical revision of the text founded on the collation of MSS. is that published at Paris, 8vo. 1585, under the superintendence of Henry Stephens and Louis Carrio
, which served as the standard until superseded by the accurate labours of J. F. Gronovius, 12mo. Amst., L. Elzev., 1651
, and D. Elzev., 1665
, of which the latter is the superior. The Octavo Variorums (Lug. Bat. 1666, 1687) exhibit the text of J. F. Gronovius, with some additional matter by Thysius and Oiselius
; but these are not equal in value to the Quarto Variorum of Jac. Gronovius, Lug. Bat. 1706 (reprinted, with some dissertations, by Conradi, 8vo. Leips. 1762), which must be regarded as the best edition
, for the most recent, that of Lion, 2 vols. 8vo. Gotting. 1824, 1825, is a slovenly and incorrect performance.
We have translations into English by Beloe, 3 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1795
; into French by the Abbé de Verteuil, 3 vols. 12mo. Par. 1776, 1789
, and by Victor Verger, 3 vols. Par. 1820, 1830
; into German (of those portions only which illustrate ancient history and philosophy) by A. H. W. von Walterstern, 8vo. Lemgo, 1785