30 of our era

1.7.ext.10 Proximum somnium etsi paulo est longius, propter nimiam tamen euidentiam ne omittatur impetrat. duo familiares Arcades iter una facientes Megaram uenerunt, quorum alter se ad hospitem contulit, alter in tabernam meritoriam deuertit. is, qui in hospitio erat, uidit in somnis comitem suum orantem ut sibi coponis insidiis circumuento subueniret: posse enim celeri eius adcursu se inminenti periculo subtrahi. quo uiso excitatus prosiluit tabernamque, in qua is deuersabatur, petere conatus est. pestifero deinde fato eius humanissimum propositum tamquam superuacuum damnauit et lectum ac somnum repetiit. tunc idem ei saucius oblatus obsecrauit ut, quoniam uitae suae auxilium ferre neglexisset, neci saltem ultionem non negaret: corpus enim suum a caupone trucidatum tum maxime plaustro ferri ad portam stercore coopertum. tam constantibus familiaris precibus conpulsus protinus ad portam cucurrit et plaustrum, quod in quiete demonstratum erat, conprehendit cauponemque ad capitale supplicium perduxit.

Encomium for Turia
(identity contested; see Valerius Maximus, Memorabilia
Baths of Diocletian, Rome. Credits: Ann Raia, 2005
6.7.2): two fragments of a marble plaque with inscribed text, beginning [U]XORIS, dedicated by a grateful and admiring husband. 1st century BCE.

Valerius Maximus

Valerius Maximus was a Latin writer and author of a collection of historical anecdotes. He flourished in the reign of Tiberius.

Nothing is known of his personal history except that his family was poor and undistinguished, and that he owed everything to Sextus Pompeius (consul AD 14), proconsul of Asia, whom he accompanied to the East in 27. This Pompeius was a kind of minor Maecenas, and the centre of a literary circle to which Ovid belonged; he was also the intimate of the most literary prince of the imperial family, Germanicus.

The style of Valerius's writings seems to indicate that he was a professional rhetorician. In his preface he intimates that his work is intended as a commonplace book of historical anecdotes for use in the schools of rhetoric, where the pupils were trained in the art of embellishing speeches by references to history. According to the manuscripts, its title is Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings. The stories are loosely and irregularly arranged, each book being divided into sections, and each section bearing as its title the topic, most commonly some virtue or vice, or some merit or demerit, which the stories in the section are intended to illustrate.

Most of the tales are from Roman history, but each section has an appendix consisting of extracts from the annals of other peoples, principally the Greeks. The exposition exhibits strongly the two currents of feeling which are intermingled by almost every Roman writer of the empire--the feeling that the Romans of the writer's own day are degenerate creatures when confronted with their own republican predecessors, and the feeling that, however degenerate, the latter-day Romans still tower above the other peoples of the world, and in particular are morally superior to the Greeks.

The author's chief sources are Cicero, Livy, Sallust and Pompeius Trogus, especially the first two. Valerius's treatment ot his material is careless and unintelligent in the extreme; but in spite of his contusions, contradictions and anachronisms, the excerpts are apt illustrations, from the rhetorician's point of view, of the circumstance or quality they were intended to illustrate. And even on the historical side we owe something to Valerius. He often used sources now lost, and where he touches on his own time he affords us some glimpses of the much debated and very imperfectly recorded reign of Tiberius.

His attitude towards the imperial household has often been misunderstood, and he has been represented as a mean flatterer of the same type with Martial. But, if the references to the imperial administration be carefully scanned, they will be seen to be extravagant neither in kind nor in number. Few will now grudge Tiberius, when his whole action as a ruler is taken into account, such a title as salutaris princeps, which seemed to a former generation a specimen of shameless adulation. The few allusions to Caesar's murderers and to Augustus hardly pass beyond the conventional style of the writer's day. The only passage which can fairly be called fulsome is the violently rhetorical tirade against Sejanus.



Valerii Maximi Dictorum factorùmque memorabilium ad Tiberium Aug. lib. IX / à Stephano Pighio & Claudio Mitalerio viennensi restituti & emendati & a multis praecedentium editionum erratis repurgati ; accessit & de praenomine incerti auctoris fragmentum. – Lugduni : sumptibus Sybillae à Porta, 1592. – [24], 145, [27], 555 p. ; 16°

Segn.: aa8, bb4, A-L8, a-z8, A-L8, M6. Le pp. 79 e 351 della seconda sequenza sono erroneamente numerate rispettivamente 59 e 251. - Marca tip. sul front.

Esemplare: legatura in mezza pergamena e carta marmorizzata di 12x8x4 cm. Tagli di colore azzurro. Sul dorso etichetta in pelle di colore rosso con nota e fregi impressi in oro: "Valerii / Maximi". Sul r. della prima c. di guardia timbro a olio (?). Rest. d'epoca sul front. Tracce di insetti sulle prime 6 cc. Nota di possesso in parte sbiadita sull'ultima c. stampata: "Di Bernardino di Gio da [...]". Annotazione ms sul v. dell'ultima c. stampata. Le pp. 343-346 (segn. y 4-5) sono staccate dalla cucitura.

Impronta : IIi. inu- s,um 7Sse (3) 1592 (R)

Collocazione: 1-6-G-6

But it is as a chapter in the history of the Latin language that the work of Valerius chiefly deserves study. Without it our view of the transition from classical to silver Latin would be much more imperfect than it is. In Valerius are presented to us, in a rude and palpable form, all the rhetorical tendencies of the age, unsobered by the sanity of Quintilian and unrefined by the taste and subtlety of Tacitus. Direct and simple statement is eschewed and novelty pursued at any price. The barrier between the diction of poetry and that of prose is broken down; the uses of words are strained; monstrous metaphors are invented; there are startling contrasts, dark innuendoes and highly coloured epithets; the most unnatural variations are played upon the artificial scale of grammatical and rhetorical figures of speech.

It is an instructive lesson in the history of Latin to compare minutely a passage of Valerius with its counterpart in Cicero or Livy. In the manuscripts of Valerius a tenth book is given, which consists of the so-called Liber de Praenominibus, the work of some grammarian of a much later date. The collection of Valerius was much used for school purposes, and its popularity in the middle ages is attested by the large number of manuscripts in which it has been preserved. Like other schoolbooks it was epitomated. One complete epitome, probably of the 4th or 5th century, bearing the name of Julius Paris, has come down to us; also a portion of another by Januarius Nepotianus. Editions by C Halm (1865), C Kempf (1888), contain the epitomes of Paris and Nepotianus.

10. Le songe suivant, bien qu'un peu
long, mérite néanmoins, par l'extrême
évidence de l'avertissement, de n'être pas
passé sous silence. Deux amis
Arcadiens, voyageant ensemble,
arrivèrent à Mégare : I'un alla loger chez
sonhôte, I'autre descendit dans une
auberge. Celui qui était chez son hôte vit
en songe son compagnon qui le suppliait
de venir le défendre contre une attaque
perfide de l'aubergiste : en accourant à la
hâte il pouvait, disait l'autre, l'arracher
au péril qui le menaçait. Réveillé par
cette vision, il sauta hors du lit et
entreprit d'aller à l'auberge où était logé
son ami. Mais ensuite, par une funeste
fatalité, il condamna comme inutile une
résolution si généreuse : il regagna son
lit et reprit son sommeil. Alors son ami
s'offrit encore à sa vue couvert de
blessures et le conjura, puisqu'il avait
négligé de lui sauver la vie, de ne pas
refuser au moins de venger sa mort. Son
cadavre, ajoutait il, mutilé par
l'aubergiste, était à cet instant même
emporté hors de la ville dans un chariot
couvert de fumier. Poussé par les prières
si persévérantes de son ami, il courut
aussitôt à la porte de la ville, arrêta le
char qui lui avait été désigné en songe et
fit punir l'aubergiste du dernier supplice.