2. C. MARIUS VICTORINUS (or according to some MSS. Fabius
), surnamed Afer
from the country of his birth, taught rhetoric at Rome in the middle of the fourth century, with so much reputation that his statue was erected in the forum of Trajan. Convinced by diligent study of the Scriptures, he, in old age, openly embraced the true faith; and when the edict of Julian, prohibiting Christians from giving instruction in polite literature, was promulgated, Victorinus chose to shut up his school rather than deny his religion.
The history of his conversion is detailed at length, upon the authority of Simplicianus, bishop of Milan, in the Confessions of St. Augustine, who glories not a little in so distinguished a proselyte.
The following works ascribed to this author are still extant.
First printed at Milan by Zarotus fol. 1474
, again by Aldus, 8vo. Venet. 1522, along with the Annotations of Asconius upon the Orations of Cicero
; and again by R. Stephens, 4to. Par. 1537. It will be found in the Antiqui Rhetores Latini of Pithou, 4to. Par. 1599, pp. 79-239
; and in the same collection as re-edited by Caperonnier, 4to. Argentor. 1756, pp. 102-255. It is likewise included in the fifth volume of Orelli's edition of Cicero.
A complete and voluminous treatise upon metres in four books.
First printed by Ulric. Morhard in the collection of Latin grammarians, published under the inspection of Jo. Camerarius, 4to. Tubing. 1537.
It will be found in the Grammaticae Latinae Auctores Antiqui
of Putschius, 4to. Hanov. 1605, pp. 2450-2622.
The translations from Plato mentioned by St. Augustine (Confess. 8.2) have perished.
III. was finished, it would appear, about A. D. 365.
IV was an abridgement of III.
These three pieces were first printed at Basle, fol. 1528, in the Antidotum contra omnes Haereses,
and will be found also in the Bibliotheca Patrum Max. fol. Lugdun. 1677, vol. iv. p. 253 and p. 294
; and in the Bibliotheca Patrum of Galland, vol. viii. fol. Venet. 1772.
First printed at Basle, fol. 1528 in the Conceptiones in Genesim et Exodum
of Ziegler along with a fragment of the tract by Candidus [CANDIDUS] De Generatione Divina,
to which it is a reply. Both will be found in the Orthodoxographa
of Heroldus, fol. Bas. 1555, p. 461, in the Haeresiologia
of Heroldus, fol. Bas. 1556, p. 186, in the Analecta Vetera
of Mabillon, fol. Par. 1685, vol. iv. p. 155; and in the Bibliotheca Patrum
of Galland, vol. viii. as above.
The two last mentioned pieces were first published by Sirmond and inserted in his Opera Dogmatica Vetera, 8vo. Par. 1630. They will be found also in his collected works, fol. Par. 1696, vol. i.
; and in the Bibliotheca Patrum of Galland, vol. viii.
The titles were fabricated by the editor, none having been found in his Codex.
The four last mentioned pieces have only recently been brought to light.
Commentaries upon the epistles of Paul
St. Jerome twice refers to the commentaries of Victorinus upon the epistles of Paul; and although we learn from Sirmond (Opera,
vol. i. p. 345), that the MS. from which he derived the Opuscula which we have marked VII., VIII. contained also commentaries upon the epistles of Paul by the same author, yet, for some reason not known, he did not publish the latter which were altogether lost sight of, until no less than three MSS. of them were discovered in the library of the Vatican by Angelo Mai, by whom they were included in the third volume of the Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio ex Vaticanis codicibus edita, 4to. Rom. 1828.
Commentaries on the Epistles
Whether Victorinus wrote commentaries upon all the epistles of Paul is left in doubt by the words of St. Jerome, and cannot now be determined. The De Physicis
is found in all the three Vatican MSS. subjoined to the commentary on the Ephesians; and although not actually inscribed with the name of Victorinus seems to be alluded to by himself (Ad Ephes.
lib. ii. p. 126); and bears strong external evidence of his manner.
In addition to all these a descriptive epic in seven books, entitled De Fratribus VII. Maccabaeis interfectis ab Antiocho Epiphane,
has been ascribed sometimes to Victorinus of Pettaw, sometimes to Victorinus Afer, and sometimes to Hilarius of Arles. If it belongs to any one of these three personages, the last is probably the rightful owner.
The fame enjoyed by Victorinus as a public instructor does not gain any accession from his theological works.
In style, weak, cramped, and involved, in phraseology often barbarous, sustained by no depth of learning and relieved by no brilliancy of illustration, they merit the severe criticism of St. Jerome, who pronounces their author to be both obscure and ignorant.
The exposition of the essay De Inventione
is more difficult to comprehend than the text which it professes to explain, the hymns are destitute of all poetical spirit, and set the laws of prosody and metre so completely at defiance that they could scarcely have proceeded from the compiler of the grammatical treatise which displays much research and contains many valuable observations.
Hieronym. de Viris Ill.
101; Prooem. in Epit. ad Galat., Chronic. ad A.D. 360, Adv. Rufin.
vol. iv. p. 367, ed. Bened.; Augustin. Confess.
8.2, 4, 5; Trithem. 71; Honor. 1.102 ; Lardner, Credibility of Gospel History,
c. xciv.; Galland, Biblioth. Patrum,
vol. viii., Proleg.
c. iv. p. vii.; Schoenemann, Bibl. Patrum Lat.