), properly notes or note-books. Hence the word
acquires a variety of meanings, of which the most important are the
1. Commentarii domestici,
or family memorials, the
records of events interesting to the members of particular families.
Possibly these are the veteres
or antiqui commentarii,
to which Cicero refers in
15, 60; 18, 72: they may have contained, but they
were not limited to, the funeral panegyrics to which Cicero (Cic. Brut. 16
) and Livy (8.40
) ascribe much of the
falsification of early Roman history.
2. The “memoirs” drawn up by public men as to events in which
they had taken part. Thus Cicero wrote a commentarius
in Greek on his consulship (ad Att.
1.19, 10; 2.1, 1), and Caesar commentarii
his Gallic and Civil Wars.
3. “Memoranda” were kept by different departments of the public
service, the officials in charge of them being known as a
These are frequently mentioned in inscriptions.
4. In towns a register was kept of the official acts of the municipal
authorities. We have interesting extracts from the commentarii
of Caere in an inscription in the Museum at
Naples (Wilmanns, 2083).
5. The unofficial record of recent events at Rome, sent by Caelius to Cicero
in Cilicia, is called by him commentarii rerum
(Cic. Fam. 8.2
6. The record of the daily occurrences at court was kept in commentarii diurni
), a kind of private diary, which must be distinguished
from the formal acta,
and also from
7. Commentarii principis
--the register of his
official decisions (Plin. Ep. 10.106
of accusations brought before him (Tac. Ann.
; Suet. Calig.
15). In Suet. Dom. 20
, “praeter commentarios et acta Ti. Caesaris
nihil lectitabat,” it is probable that commentarii refers to
private memoirs written by that emperor (Mommsen, Röm.
ii.2 869, note 1).
8. Tacitus once (Ann.
15.74) speaks of commentarii senatus,
by which he can hardly mean anything but
the acta senatus
9. The commentarii
of the pontiffs, the augurs,
and the XVviri
are often mentioned. These were
records of their decrees, and are to be distinguished on the one hand from
or minutes of their meetings, and on
the other from the books (libri
contained the ritual, and the annales maximi
chronicle of public events. (Cf. Cic. de Domo,
53, 136; de Div.
2.18, 42; Brut.
14, 55; Plin. Nat. 18.14
10. Varro cites more than once commentarii
of the nature of which we know practically nothing
(Madvig, Verf. und Verw.