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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Transactions
of the American Philological Association

Vol. 25 (1894), pp140‑164.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p140 Literary Frauds among the Romans
By Prof. Alfred Gudeman,
University of Pennsylvania

In a paper recently published,1 the present writer has endeavored to give a critical survey of the most interesting literary frauds among the Greeks, so far as they antedate our era. The succeeding pages deal with the same phenomenon in Roman literature to the exclusion, however, of the numerous Latin ψευδεπίγραφα which owe their existence to the enthusiasm of the scholars of the Renaissance. These forgeries deserve a separate treatment, which I propose to furnish in the near future, the bulk of the material being already in my hands.

Compared with the apocryphal literature of the Greeks, the Roman ψευδεπίγραφα sink into insignificance, both in point of number and of quality. The reasons for this indifference are not far to seek. In the first place, the perpetration of literary frauds would seem to demand as a 'condition precedent' the existence of literary models of consummate excellence and a reading public educated up to the appreciation of literary art. But both these prerequisite elements, so abundantly supplied in Hellas, were lacking in Rome. For centuries, the conquerors of the Greeks preserved an indifferent, at times even a hostile, attitude toward literature as such, and even after writers of unquestionable talent had made their appearance among them, their works were produced to a large extent under the overshadowing influence of the masterpieces of Hellenic genius. It will thus be seen that no incentive or motive existed for the perpetration of p141literary frauds, as the Latin models available were themselves but the reflex of a higher and a foreign literature. A successful forgery is dependent upon the skilful imitation of originals.

Again, we must remember that to the practical and matter-of‑fact mind of the Roman, literary forgery for its own sake would have seemed a useless and profitless occupation. Such imitative skill or imaginative power, as he occasionally exhibited, was employed to better advantage (and unfortunately with telling effect) in embellishing the facts of history. Hence it does not surprise us, when we observe that most of the literary forgeries among the Romans were designed to serve some definite, practical turn, the direct outcome of political partisanship or personal malice, motives significantly rare, if not wholly absent, among the Greeks.2

The earliest instance of a literary fraud, and acknowledged as such even by Dyer, the zealous advocate of the credibility of ancient Roman history, pertains to the reputed books of Numa Pompilius.

The well-known story, related in detail by Livy,3 on the authority of Piso, and by Pliny,4 who follows the account of the ancient annalist Cassius Hemina, is substantially as follows:5 In the consulship of P. Cornelius Cethegus and M. Baebius Tamphilus (181 B.C.), one Cn. Terentius,6 a 'scriba', while digging on his farm on the Ianiculum, discovered two7 stone chests (8′ × 4′). The one was the tomb of Numa Pompilius, as was evidenced by inscriptions in Greek and Latin, but on being opened was found to be completely empty. The other chest, however, contained the 'Opera omnia' of Numa, seven books dealing with pontifical enactments, in p142Latin, while an equal number,8 written in Greek, inculcated philosophical precepts which, according to Valerius Antias and Cassius Hemina, were Pythagorean.

The marvellous state of preservation of these aged papyri (chartae), for they had 'lain i' the earth' for over five hundred years, must have aroused suspicion, even in that uncritical age. At least Cassius Hemina took pains to silence it by arguments which Pliny seems to have regarded as of sufficient validity to merit direct citation.9

That these writings were a brazen imposture can be easily shown. For not to mention the half-mythical existence of Numa himself; not to lay stress upon the anachronism which made him a disciple of Pythagoras,10 a century and a half before the philosopher was born; even admitting, finally, that papyrus was used as a writing material at so early a period, the very manner of the discovery of these precious documents would suffice to stamp them as a forgery. For this particular device has always been in high favor with ancient no less than modern impostors, from the days of Acusilaos to Simonides of recent memory, the apparently accidental character of such finds being well calculated to disarm suspicion, as has been pointed out in my previous paper.11

p143 The philosophical treatises of Numa were subsequently burned in the forum by a decree of the Roman Senate, but not, as we should suppose, because their spuriousness was generally recognized, for it was not; but simply, as Livy expressly says and Pliny intimates, because the Romans of that day believed the introduction of philosophical doctrines to be detrimental to the stability of the commonwealth and subversive of civic morality.

No such apprehension, of course, attached itself to the so‑called commentarii regum, leges regiae, and the like, which purported to represent the religious and legal enactments of the kings, and abounded in wise precepts of political conduct. They are quoted without suspicion by Roman writers down to the latest times. Nevertheless, they too were unquestionably apocryphal, the really historical elements being also very few in number. For, quite apart from the fact that their reputed authors probably never had any real existence, we have it on the authority of Livy12 himself, that but little authentic information concerning early Roman history was available, largely owing to the loss of most of the official documents in the Gallic conflagration (389 B.C.), which destroyed the entire city, with the exception of the Capitol.

In the same category of apocryphal documents, purporting to preserve very ancient and trustworthy traditions, must be placed the so‑called libri lintei, which the historian Licinius Macer13 frequently consulted, whenever, we may surmise, other sources of information were not at his disposal. This linen was presumably made of some non-ignitable, indestructible material, such as asbestos, for otherwise it were difficult to believe that these 'linen books' passed uninjured through the Gallic conflagration above mentioned!

But while historians seem to have done their utmost in p144patching up a continuous narrative with the more or less legendary and forged material accessible to them, a new and fruitful source of inaccurate information was furnished by the practice of the so‑called laudationes funebres. The conventional code of ethics seems at all times and in all civilized countries to have condoned, if not actually sanctioned, embellishment and exaggeration in funeral addresses, on the sentimental ground of the 'de mortuis nil nisi bonum.' Now, so far as these post-mortem eulogies confined themselves to individuals not identified with great political, social, or intellectual movements, no harm was done, but when great statesmen and soldiers were made the object of indiscriminate panegyric, as was but too often the case in Rome, and when these eulogies were subsequently regarded as trustworthy biographical sources, a singular perversion of history was the inevitable result.14

These laudationes cannot of course, strictly speaking, be designated as literary frauds, but as they often deliberately falsified historical facts, and by reason of their publication came into the possession of a larger public than that for which they were originally composed, their incidental mention in the present discussion will not seem irrelevant.

The many speeches which ancient historians, Greek as well as Roman, put into the mouths of their dramatis personae, and upon which they lavish all the resources of their stylistic art, are also either wholly fictitious or at best but a reflex of what was, in the writer's knowledge or belief, actually said upon certain occasions. Under ordinary circumstances these supposititious orations would legitimately fall within the p145scope of the present inquiry, were it not for the well-known fact that the rhetorical exigencies of ancient historiography, no less than a time-honored tradition, made it practically imperative upon the ancient historian to insert such speeches into the body of his narrative, — a device which also enabled the author to preserve an apparently objective attitude, the individuals themselves revealing the psychological motives of their actions by which the writer himself, on more or less justifiable grounds, believed them to have been actuated. The historians, moreover, as a rule do not conceal15 the fictitious nature of these speeches, although it must be said that Roman writers, such as Caesar, Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus, do not deal as frankly with their readers as does Thucydides,16 doubtless because the origin of these rhetorically finished orations was in their day an open secret, and hence not calculated to deceive anyone.

But, barring the speeches found in historical writings, we meet with not a few which were genuine forgeries, if the oxymoron be permissible.

Thus, Cicero informs us that the elder Scipio had left no written monuments of his genius,17 and yet Livy18 quotes without suspicion a speech of his against Cn. Naevius.19 p146This speech was in all probability forged after Cicero's time; at least his words seem rather to imply that he knew of no such speech than that a conviction of its spuriousness had induced him to ignore its existence.

A supposititious speech of the elder Tib. Gracchus, in defence of his father-in‑law on the identical occasion above referred to, was also extant in Livy's day.20 Possibly both speeches were written by the same individual.

In the case of the apocryphal orations of Servius Sulpicius, Cicero not only gives the name of the reputed author, but adds that he had often heard from the living lips of none other than Sulpicius himself that he was not in the habit of consigning his thoughts to writing.21

Doubtless many similar forgeries, which served their purpose as political pamphlets, were circulated during the stirring times that led to the downfall of the Republic, but the merely ephemeral interest that attached to most documents of this kind prevented their preservation. The brevity of such productions, moreover, made no exorbitant demands upon the imagination or the rhetorical skill of the forger, and if the orator to whom these speeches were ascribed did not possess a strongly marked stylistic individuality, the fraud might well have escaped detection for some time. Among such oratorical ψευδεπίγραφα we may mention the alleged replies of Catiline and Antonius to Cicero's speech in toga candida, which were the production of some unknown enemy of Cicero.22

The difficulty of palming off spurious speeches or other writers upon the great orators of the Republic seems to have been the chief cause why we hear so little of supposititious works of Cicero, Caesar, and other famous speakers of the p147day. And even in the case of the few works unjustly attributed to them, we can never be positive that they were written during the lifetime of their reputed authors, it being equally possible that they represent nothing more than ordinary exercises, such as were produced in great abundance in the rhetorical schools of the early Empire.

Among the speeches of Caesar, extant in the time of Suetonius, there were some which his biographer has no hesitation in condemning as apocryphal,23 the pro Metello and the oratio apud milites in Hispania being cases in point.

The ancients also possessed a treatise de astris, which is frequently quoted as a work of Caesar.24 The citation in Pliny has led to the supposition that it was written in Greek. But be this as it may, the fact that Suetonius does not mention this astronomical work in the list of the dictator's writings creates a strong presumption that it bore Caesar's name unjustly. Possibly, as has been conjectured, the book was compiled at Caesar's suggestion by some learned Greek (Sosigenes?), and was subsequently handed down under his name.

Among the works of Cicero, numerous as they are, there were naturally but few ψευδεπίγραφα for the reason given above. In the extant corpus there is, in fact, but one speech, entitled Pridie quam in exilium iret, which is certainly not genuine, though it has come down to us in excellent MSS.25 Other spurious orations of Cicero are not known to me, for the hypercritical arguments by which F. A. Wolf, for instance, endeavored to condemn the pro Marcello and some of the Catilinarian speeches are now of value only as showing to what deplorable aberrations an over-subtle ingenuity may lead.

p148 A work entitled Chorographia, cited as Ciceronian by Priscian,26 was in my judgment also a forgery, although Cicero is known to have occupied himself with geographical studies about the year 59.27

The spuriousness of the correspondence between Cicero and Brutus has, beginning with Markland, been stoutly maintained by many scholars, but the genuineness of the fragmentary collection is now, I believe, almost universally conceded.28 Even the lost letter which Plutarch29 cites with the proviso εἴ περ ἄρα τῶν γνησίων30 ἐστί has been shown by Mommsen to be free from objections. The letter of Brutus to Atticus (I.17), on the other hand, is certainly a forgery, as is also the epistola Ciceronis ad Octavianum.

The paucity of supposititious letters in Latin literature is, in fact, surprising, when we remember that Greek literary frauds reach their culmination in the field of epistolography.31 This may be accounted for on the ground that the Romans lacked the motive which prompted the Greek forgeries,32 although it is quite probable that there were many more apocryphal letters in existence than we can now trace, they having perished at an early period, either because they possessed no intrinsic value or because their spuriousness was universally recognized.

Thus Suetonius tells us that he came upon some elegies and a prose letter which he believed were unjustly attributed to Horace; and tradition has, indeed, preserved no trace of them.33

p149 Finally, I mention under this head the apocryphal correspondence of Seneca and St. Paul, comprising fourteen letters. They were forged at a comparatively early period, for they are quoted by Hieronymus34 and Augustinus.35 The idea of a possible friendly intercourse between the famous apostle and the pagan philosopher, whose ethical doctrines seemed to present so many points of contact with Christian teaching, appealed strongly to the early Church fathers. It was this that originally called forth the forgery and at the same time caused it to be handed down.

Passing by the literary fraud which some pupils of Quintilian practised upon their teacher by publishing under his name a treatise on Rhetoric which they compiled from lecture-notes,36 we conclude our survey of actual forgeries by a brief discussion of the Disticha Catonis, Fulgentius, and the so‑called Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis.

The Disticha Catonis were a collection of pithy ethical maxims, compiled about the fourth century, to which the name of Cato was attached. This sturdy Roman, himself the author of Praecepta and a carmen de moribus, had come to be regarded as the prototype of moral wisdom; his name was, therefore, well calculated to enhance the value of a collection of this kind. The Disticha Catonis enjoyed a marvellous popularity for centuries, being translated even into Greek prose, in the twelfth century, by Maximus Planudes.

Fabius Planciades Fulgentius (c. 480-c. 550), the mythologist and grammarian, enjoys the unenviable distinction of being the only Roman writer, so far as we know, who deliberately manufactured his evidence by inventing mythical authors and illustrating his treatises from works which never existed. Thus Latin literature was enriched by such legendary titles as Crispinus' Heraclea, Q. Fabius Lucullus p150epico carmine, Callimorphus in Pisaeis, Antidamas in moralibus libris. A more familiar name meets us in Lucilius comicus (!) in a play Immolaria; to Fenestella is attributed a work entitled Achaica, and the austere Tacitus figures as the author of a collection of Facetiae! Fulgentius has many points of resemblance to the notorious forger Ptolomaeus Chennus, and Bentley not unjustly styled him 'homo Malelae germanissimus.'37

But by far the most noteworthy forgeries met with in Latin literature are the elaborate descriptions of the Trojan war by two alleged eye-witnesses, Dictys Cretensis and Darius Phrygius. The abiding interest that attaches to these productions is not due to any stylistic skill or to an unusual power of feigning reality. On the contrary, their underlying conception is incredibly naïve. They have, however, a claim upon our interest, because well-nigh all the information which the Middle Ages possessed concerning the Trojan expedition was derived from these sources.38 The Homeric epics were unknown to Western Europe till the days of Petrarch, to whom Nicolaos Sigeros sent a Greek Ms. of the immortal poems from Constantinople.39

The earlier of these fictitious narratives is that of Dictys. The work opens with a prologue in which the peculiar circumstances attending the discovery of these ancient documents are given with circumstantial minuteness.40

p151 One Dictys of Gnossos, in Crete, learned in the Phoenician tongue, who served under Idomeneus and Meriones, was ordered by his commanders to write the history of the war (ut annales belli Troiani conscriberet). Complying with this request, he composed in all nine (six) books on linden bark and in Phoenician characters. On his return to his native island, he provided that these memoirs be placed in a tin chest (stanna arcula) which was to be buried with him. This was done. Thus they lay concealed for over a thousand years, but in the 13th year of Nero's reign (66 A.D.), an earthquake uncovered Dictys' grave and exposed the chest to passers-by. Some shepherds, believing that it contained treasures of gold, carried it off, but on discovering that the box contained only linden bark, inscribed with mysterious signs, brought their find to their master, a certain Eupraxides, who in turn handed it over to the governor (consularis)41 of the island, Rutilius Rufus. This official, suspecting that the documents might contain some important state secrets, took them, in company with Eupraxides, to Nero. The emperor, immediately recognizing the handwriting to be in Punic characters, summoned skilled interpreters to decipher them, and on learning that these were, indeed, the memoirs of one who had taken a personal part in the celebrated conflict, he ordered a Greek translation to be made of these 'ephemerides,' in order that the true story of the Trojan war be given as wide a circulation as possible.42 A copy was placed in the Greek library. Eupraxides p152was honored by the bestowal of Roman citizenship and sent home loaded with presents.

The narrative of Dictys covers the whole period from the birth of Paris down to the death of Ulysses. Its treatment is strictly pragmatic, all supernatural agencies being rigidly excluded.43 It departs in numerous details from the Homeric account and adds many particulars not met with in our extant sources. The whole work, in fact, gives evidence of considerable learning which would alone suffice to assign its composition to a period several centuries earlier than the Latin version. It is certainly not later than the time of Hadrian if not actually written in that of Nero, and Nero's philhellenic sympathies may well have welcomed a contemporary account of the Trojan war, his enthusiasm blinding him to the very transparent imposture.

But if the annales of Dictys, in spite of their impossible framework, must after all be regarded as a respectable specimen of Hellenistic erudition, the parallel forgeries of Dares Phrygius, entitled 'historia de excidio Troiae,'44 stands without a rival in the ludicrous absurdity of its information and in the naïve credulity which its author presumes in its readers. The circumstantiality of the narrative, however, and the writer's repeated asseverations concerning the autoptic character of his information served to insure to it an even greater popularity than the matter-of‑fact account of Dictys; and Dares was regarded throughout the Byzantine and mediaeval times as a trustworthy and authoritative historian.

The unknown translator, blissfully oblivious of the anachronism, assumes the mask of none other than Cornelius Nepos, who, in a letter to his friend Sallustius Crispus, acquaints us, p153in the manner of Dictys, with the provenance of these precious documents. 'Cum multa ago Athenis curiose — so runs the short epistle — inveni historiam Daretis Phrygii ipsius manu scriptam, ut titulus indicat quam de Graecis et Troianis memoriae mandavit quam ego summo amore complexus continuo transtuli. Cui nihil adiciendum vel diminuendum rei reformandae causa putavi, alioquin mea posset videri.45 Optimum ergo duxi, ita ut fuit, vere et simpliciter perscripta, sic eam ad verbum in latinitatem transvertere, ut legentes cognoscere possent, quomodo res gestae essent; utrumne verum magis esse existiment quod Dares Phrygius memoriae commendavit qui per ipsum tempus vixit et militavit, cum Graeci Troianos oppugnarent, anne Homero credendum, qui post multos annos natus est quam bellum hoc gestum est.'

As a specimen of the kind of information which Dares imparts, we may mention that the war lasted exactly 10 years, 6 months, and 12 days; as many as 676,000 fought on the Trojan side, while the Greek army numbered 886,000 warriors! The twelfth chapter, perhaps the gem of the history, contains the description of the various heroes and heroines, of which only a short extract can be given here: 'Helenam similem illis formosam, animi simplicis, blandam, cruribus optimis, notam ('beauty-spot') inter duo supercilia habentem, ore pusillo. . . . Priamum, Troianorum regem vultu pulchro, magnum, voci suavi, aquilino corpore. Hectorem blaesum, candidum, crispum, strabum, pernicibus membris, vultu venerabili, barbatum, decentem, bellicosum, animo magno, in civibus clementem, dignum, amore aptum!'

p154 The style of this history proves it to be later than the corresponding translation of Septimius. That it is probably not much later than the sixth century may be inferred from the fact that it is quoted by Isidorus, who, of course, has no doubts as to its genuineness.46 As for the date of the Greek original, we have a terminus ante quem in the citations of Ptolomaeus Chennus (c. 100 A.D.) and Aelian, V. H. XI.2 (c. 150).

Of the two Greek narratives, everything points to the Dictys as the earlier; in fact, the Dares seems to me to have been an attempt to out-Dictys Dictys. If so, this will be still another argument in favor of the reign of Nero as the date for the forged Annales of the Cretan warrior.

In the case of many ψευδεπίγραφα the deceptive label seems not to have been due to the original author. To this category belong those treatises which were composed in the rhetorical schools of the Empire.

Perhaps the earliest of these school exercises is the so‑called Commentariolum Petitionis, which purports to be a letter of Quintus Cicero to his brother, the layman giving the experienced politician some gratuitous advice regarding the proper manner of conducting a campaign! The subject is treated in the stereotype fashion of the schools, the comparative purity of the language alone preventing us from dating its composition later than the Augustan period.47

Equally spurious are the so‑called Invectiva in Tullum and its reply, the Invectiva in Sallustium. Both are the work of one and the same rhetorician, who made use of the p155polemical literature which the death struggle of the republic called forth. The prevalent belief as to hostile feelings which the historian entertained for the orator may well have suggested the composition of these two suasoriae. Quintilian, who quotes the Invectiva in Tullium repeatedly,48 seems not to have doubted that Sallust was its author, nor did Donatus or Servius,49 and Cicero's alleged reply is cited as genuine by Diomedes.50 The evidence, however, against their authenticity is conclusive.

Of a similar provenance are a speech and a letter Ad Caesarem senem de republica, which are attributed to Sallust in the single Ms. in which they are preserved.

But in none of these apocryphal writings is the 'scholastic' origin so manifest as in the so‑called Declamationes which many ancient writers attribute to Quintilian,51 the MSS. being anonymous. The extant collection consists of 19 larger and 145 smaller controversiae, the latter being all that remains of 388 pieces known to the ancients. That Quintilian cannot have been their author is now all but universally conceded, and is demonstrable on internal and external grounds. Quintilian himself never mentions them; their contents are in numerous cases incompatible with unequivocal utterances in the Institutio; finally, the language itself is alone sufficient to prove plurality of authorship, and is at variance with the style of the great rhetorician.52 These controversiae were originally anonymous, and their attribution to Quintilian is due to some error, the commanding authority of the celebrated rhetorician drawing to himself, like some magnet, many treatises of a rhetorical nature.53

p156 Anonymity is, in fact, responsible for the great majority of ψευδεπίγραφα in Latin literature. In some instances (1) an erroneous inference or conjecture, based upon real or fancied resemblances, either in subject-matter or stylistic treatment, to some well-known work, has caused the false adscription; in other cases (2) mere accident led to the insertion of spurious writings into the collection of some famous author, the original writer's name being subsequently overlooked and then lost; in still others, finally, (3) anonymous works were intentionally attributed to illustrious writers for the purpose of increasing their value in the eyes of the public.

Perhaps the best illustration of the first of these causes is furnished by the list of Pseudo Vergiliana, such as the Culex, Ciris, Dirae, Copa, Catalepta, Aetna, the elegies on Maecenas, Moretum, and Epigrammata. Of these the Culex, though regarded as Vergilian by Lucan, Martial, Statius, Suetonius, Nonius, Donatus, and Servius, is unquestionably supposititious. The Ciris not only exhibits many Vergilian reminiscences, but is strongly influenced by Ovid, as has been recently demonstrated.54 The poem entitled Aetna is as late as the age of Nero, but was written before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Its author is in all probability identical with the Lucilius to whom Seneca addresses his Epistolae Morales and Naturales Quaestiones.a The arguments against the genuineness of the other Vergiliana are equally strong, with the possible exception of the Moretum, which, if it be not a translation by the young Vergil of the Moretum of Parthenius, certainly belongs to the early Augustan era. In any case, we have no reason for supposing that any one of these poets was guilty of a literary forgery; and the same applies p157to the author of the Elegies of Pseudo-Horace mentioned by Suetonius.

All these works were ἀδέσποτα, when philologians began to turn their attention to the Augustan poets. Their elegant versification, their classical purity of diction, the palpable reminiscences in which they abound, certain vague traditions, finally, of juvenile poetic effusions on the part of the author of the Aeneid, — all conspired to render Vergilian authorship a safe inference. This corpus Vergilianum was made before the time of Suetonius, for in his vita Vergilii (preserved in the version of Donatus) these minor poems are quoted as genuine.

The corpus Tibullianum presents another instance, the elegies of the third book having been composed by one Lygdamus, and, although their author makes no attempt to merge his identity into that of Tibullus, they found their way into an edition of his works because of their elegiac character and a certain resemblance in the subject-matter. The Panegyricus in Messallam was probably attributed to Tibullus, because of the intimacy which was known to have existed between the poet and his patron, Messalla Corvinus.55

Of other ψευδεπίγραφα, due to wrong inferences, I mention the Octavia which, for want of better shelter, found a safe refuge among the dramas of Seneca, although it contains an allusion to Nero's fall, which occurred three years after Seneca's death. This anachronism, added to weighty internal reasons, leaves no doubt of its apocryphal character. The fact that Seneca himself appears in the play may possibly have facilitated its false adscription.56 p158There remain to be enumerated Pseudo-Asconius in Verrem, Pseudo-Caesius Bassius de metris, the Pseudo-Frontinus, which forms the fourth book of the genuine Strategemata, but is in reality nothing more than an epitome of Valerius Maximus, and the XVIth satire of Juvenal which is pronounced spurious by the scholiast.57

Examples of the second class seem to be rare, the false titles being due to the fact that some writings were handed down in codices miscellanei. In such cases the title that preceded caused the loss of one which followed. I believe the Orthographia of Apuleius and some of the spurious poems in the Latin Anthology to be instances in point. Another example I recognize in the three epitaphs which are attributed respectively to the old poets, Naevius, Plautus, and Pacuvius.58 But as all these are generally regarded as genuine,59 they cannot be dismissed quite so briefly, for these epitaphs are no more authentic than the well-known lines on the tomb of Shakespeare. In the first place, it is intrinsically improbable that all these early poets were alike so solicitous about a proper sepulchral inscription that they took care to compose it themselves. Plautus probably died in Rome; of Naevius this is doubtful; Pacuvius certainly ended his days in far-off Tarentum. Is it to be supposed that Varro took the pains to collect these epitaphs? Cicero, it is true, cites the epitaph p159of Ennius,60 in elegiac verse, which fact is alone sufficient to condemn it, but he seems to have had no knowledge of those under discussion, although he had every reason to quote them. Again, the epitaphs in Gellius do not conform either in style or contents to the contemporary sepulchral inscriptions that have been preserved, with the possible exception of that of Pacuvius.61 Now, Varro is known to have written a work entitled Imagines, which contained seven hundred illustrations of famous men, to which he added suitable epigrams. At a later period an epitome of this was made, with the illustrations omitted. But the epigrams having once been detached, nothing was more natural than that they were subsequently regarded as genuine productions; nothing, further, is more likely than that the epitaphs which Gellius cites from Varro were found in this very collection.62 But apart from these considerations, there are weighty internal grounds which prove the Plautus and Naevius epitaphs, at least, to be apocryphal, which fact necessarily involves the spuriousness of that on Pacuvius, though otherwise free from objections, since all these epigrams are unquestionably derived from one and the same source.

The lines on Naevius breathe, indeed, a sublime self-assurance ('plenus superbiae Campaniae'), which seems to have been characteristic of the poet; nevertheless he cannot well have made the sweeping statement attributed to him, for the following reason. Naevius still witnessed the ἀκμή of Plautus. Now the sympathetic reference to the old poet, which Plautus goes out of his way to insert in a passage of the Miles Gloriosus,63 certainly implies friendly relations between p160them; but if so, it is difficult to understand how Naevius could have so completely ignored his younger contemporary by asserting 'obliti sunt Romae loquier lingua Latina.' Clearly this epitaph belongs to a later period, namely, that of Varro and Horace, who testifies to the fact that the old poet was then greatly admired and in everybody's hands.64

But the lines ascribed to Plautus are open to even weightier objections. For not to lay undue stress upon the use of the hexameter,65 introduced in Latin literature in the Annales of Ennius, I contend that the phrase 'numeri innumeri' cannot have been penned by Plautus. It unquestionably owes its origin to a time when the marvellous metrical skill of the poet was no longer understood or appreciated. This is true, however, of the days of Cicero and Horace, the contemporaries of Varro,66 who can certainly not be credited with more enlightened views on the subject than the poet whom Ovid styled 'numerosus.'

Of the third class of ψευδεπίγραφα rendered possible by anonymity, in which, however, fraudulent designs undoubtedly played some part, the most interesting illustration is furnished by the large number of supposititious comedies of Plautus, still extant in the time of Varro. As Ritschl long ago showed, the last century of the Roman Republic witnessed a revival of interest in this all but forgotten idol of the people; p161for while the popularity of scenic performances had not abated, the productivity of comic playwrights had ceased. In this perplexity, the domini gregis, or managers of the day, to satisfy the craving of the populace, had recourse to the plays of Plautus, which to the younger generation represented so many 'novae fabulae.' But Plautus, like Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and Shakespeare in modern times, was extremely negligent as to what became of the children of his brain.67 Nor must it be forgotten that a Roman poet relinquished all rights to his plays, after they had been accepted and paid for.68 Thus it naturally happened that the name of the original author was in many cases lost sight of. Now the domini gregis of the first century, finding a large number of anonymous plays, did not scruple to attach the name of the famous playwright to many of them, in order to insure a favorable reception for the play at the outset; in other instances the authorship of Plautus may, however, have been justly assumed. When the pinacographic labors of critics, which culminated in the work of Varro, were directed to Plautus, no fewer than 130 comedies were found bearing his name, but of these Varro recognized but 21 (respectively 40) as genuine. The others had been attributed to him either with the intent to deceive or owing to erroneous conjectures. But this eminently plausible explanation of the existence of so many Pseudo-Plautine comedies is not the one given by Gellius (III.3), in the locus classicus on the subject. We there read the following: in eodem libro (sc. de comoediis Plautinis) M. Varronis id quoque scriptum Plautium fuisse quempiam poetam comoediarum. Cuius Plautii quoniam fabulae 'Plauti' inscriptae forent, acceptas esse quasi Plautinas, cum essent non a Plauto Plautinae sed a Plautio Plautianae. Ritschl69 could see no reason for rejecting this statement, and since M. Hertz70 drew attention to a painter, M. Plautius, mentioned p162by Pliny (N. H. XXXV.10, 37, 115), whom he identified with the alleged comedian, no one has doubted the trustworthy character of the information in Gellius. But if so prolific a poet by that name ever existed, it were passing strange, that we should know so little about him,71 and that even Pliny did not add a word about his poetical achievements as well, conceding the two to have been the same.72 If, on the other hand, we suppose this namesake in the genitive, so to speak, to have written but few comedies, then the large number of Pseudo-Plautine plays is not fully accounted for, on this hypothesis.

I feel that scholars have advocated the acceptance of Gellius' statement, chiefly because they believed that its rejection would involve a fraudulent act on the part of Varro, the source of Gellius. But this alternative does not exist, for the very passage of Varro under discussion seems to me quite unintelligible, unless we regard it as a criticism of Varro himself73 of the supposition of some earlier scholar. This philologian, whom I am inclined to believe was none other than Varro's teacher, L Aelius Stilo, confronted with the perplexing problem of more than 100 spurious plays of Plautus, and not aided, as Varro was, by valuable stylistic criteria, may well have taken refuge in the hypothesis of a writer Plautius, and in the course of his writings probably spoke of fabulae Plautinae as if applicable to both. This Varro in the excerpt of Gellius refutes; the possibility, however, p163of a confusion on account of the same genitive termination of Plautus and Plautius, he of course admitted.74

Such then are the principal ψευδεπίγραφα in Roman literature and the causes that are mainly responsible for them. Clear instances of literary forgery, pure and simple, are not many; intentional false adscriptions by others than the authors of the works themselves we found to be somewhat more numerous; by far the large majority of supposititious writings was due to anonymity, the deceptive label being directly attributable to three causes.

There still remain a few apocryphal treatises which could not properly be included under any of the heads so far dealt with. I refer to ψευδεπίγραφα due to homonymity and pseudonymity.

To the former category belong such treatises as the 'de iure pontificio,' which both Gellius (I.12.14) and Nonius (p518) ascribe to the ancient annalist, Fabius Pictor, although it seems to have been the work of some obscure namesake.

The poet Ennius was credited with the composition of a number of grammatical treatises; but these were written by a younger Ennius, as Suetonius happens to inform us.75

The same grammarian is probably meant, and not the old poet, who is said by Isidorus, on the authority of Suetonius (?), to have been the inventor of a system of stenography. But it is incredible that the author of the Annales ever devoted his time and attention to a matter of this kind, nor is it likely that the need of a shorthand system was felt at a period in which Roman oratory had as yet not assumed an artistic form or an intrinsic importance.

Pseudonymity, finally, extremely rare even among the p164Greeks,76 is practically unknown in Roman Literature. I am able to mention but two instances that may possibly come under this head.

In the schol. Bob. (p268 Or.) to Cicero's speech pro Plancio, there occurs this passage: extat autem libellus eiusdem Ciceronis qui ita inscribitur Edictum L. Racilii, trib. pleb. quod sub nomine ipsius inscripsit in invectionem P. Clodii. But in view of the many open attacks which Cicero made of his inveterate enemy,77 it is extremely improbable that he would at any time have deemed it advisable to adopt as a nom de plume the name of one of his stanchest supporters and admirers. This Edictum was probably a rhetorical school exercise.

The other example is taken from Spartianus, Vita Hadriani, 16.1, who writes as follows:b famae celebris tam cupidus fuit, ut libros vitae suae scriptos a se libertis suis litteratis dederit, ut eos suis nominibus publicarent. nam et Phlegontis libri Hadriani esse dicuntur. But this latter pseudonym seems to have been an open secret; at all events, the biography is repeatedly cited by Spartianus under the emperor's name.

Many other literary frauds in Latin, so far as they are of any importance, including extensive interpolations, forged inscriptions, and restorations of lacunae, belong to the period of the Revival of Learning and do not, therefore, come within the scope of the present inquiry.


The Author's Notes:

1 Classical Studies in Honour of Henry Drisler, Macmillan, pp52‑74.

2 Cf. Class. Stud., pp66 ff.

3 XL.29.

4 N. H. XIII.12, 27, 84 f.

5 Incidental allusions are found in Val. Max. I.1.12; Festus, p173; August. Civ. Dei, VII.34; [Aurel. Vict.] de viris ill. III.3; Lact. Inst. I.22, and Plut. Num. 22, whose source was Valerius Antias.

6 So also Festus, l.c., but Liv., l.c., says 'in agro L. Petilii scribae dum cultores agri altius moliuntur terram.'

7 Pliny, l.c., mentions but one.

8 So Piso. But Valerius Antias gave the numbers as twelve. See Plin. and Plut. ll.cc.

9 l.c., 'lapidem fuisse quadratum circiter in media arca vinctum candelis quoquoversus in eo lapide insuper libros III sepositos fuisse, propterea abritrarier non conputuisse et libros citratos fuisse, propterea abritrarier tineas non tetigisse.'

10 This opinion was quite generally held until the days of Cicero (de rep. II.15, 28 f.) and Livy (XL.29.8), although it had long before been refuted by Polybius.

11 Cf. l.c., p60. Among the other instances not there mentioned, cp. Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis, discussed below, and the references in Plut. de fac. 26, Alex. 7; Lucian, Alex. Pseudom. 10; Anton. Diog. ap. Phot. col. 166; Suet. Caes. 81; Iul. Obseq. c50. The story of the discovery of the writings of Aristotle in the cellar of Skepsis (Strabo, XIII.608; Plut. Sulla, 26) is perhaps authentic. In modern times, apart from Simonides already cited, the most noted instance is that of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, who pretended to have discovered and copied the book of Mormon from golden tablets inscribed with mystical characters, the exact locality of the buried documents having been pointed out to him by an angel!

12 VI.1 quae ab condita urbe Roma ad captam urbem eandem . . . exposui res cum vetustate nimia obscuras . . . tum quod parvae et rare per eadem tempora litterae fuere, una custodia fidelis memoriae rerum gestarum, et quod, etiam in commentariis pontificum aliisque publicis privatisque erant monumentis, incensa urbe pleraeque interiere. Plut. de fortit. Rom. 13 alludes to this very passage.

13 Cf. e.g. Liv. IV.7.12; 20.8; 23.2.

14 The evil effects of these laudationes are distinctly recognized by Cicero and Livy. Cp. Brut. 16.62 ipsae enim familiae sua quasi ornamenta ac monumenta servabant et ad usum . . . et ad memoriam laudum domesticarum et ad illustrandam nobilitatem suam. Quamquam his laudationibus historia rerum nostrarum est facta mendosior. Multa enim scripta sunt in eis quae facta non sunt, falsi triumphi, plures consulatus, genera etiam falsa et ad plebem transitiones . . . ut, si ego me a M'. Tullio esse dicerem, qui patricius sum Servio Sulpicio consul anno decimo post exactos reges fuit. Liv. VIII.40.4 vitiatam memoriam funebribus laudibus reor falsisque imaginum titulis, dum familia ad se quaeque famam rerum gestarum honorumque fallenti mendacio trahant.

15 E.g. Sall. Cat. 20 orationem huiusce modi habuit; 50 Caesar . . . huiusce modi verba locutus est; 52 huiusce modi orationem habuit. So 58, Iug. 9, 13 hoc modo locutum accepimus; Liv. I.35 orationem dicitur habuisse (Tarquinius Priscus); III.67 ibi in hanc sententiam locutum accipio (sc. Quinctium Capitolinum); VI.40 Ap. Claudius Crassus . . . dicitur . . . locutus in hanc fere sententiam esse; Tac. Ag. 29 Calgacus . . . in hunc modum locutus fertur; Ann. I.58 verba in hunc modum fuere, and so frequently. The same applies to epistles inserted by Sallust and Tacitus, as e.g. Sall. Cat. 33, Tac. Ann. III.53. The only exception is Sall. Cat. 34, where the language itself implies literal reproduction (earum exemplum infra scriptum est). Cp. in general Schnorr v. Carolsfeld, Die Reden und Briefe bei Sallust, Leipz. 1880; F. Friedersdorff, De oratt. operi Liv. insertarum origine et natura, Tilsit, 1886; J. Seeback, De oratt. Tac. libris insertis, Celle, 1880.

16 I.22.

17 De off. III.1.4 nulla enim eius [sc. Africani] ingeni monumenta mandata litteris, nullum opus otii, nullam solitudinis munus extat.

18 XXXIX.52.3 adversus quem oratio inscripta P. Africani est.

19 Gell. N. A. IV.18.6, cites the memorable answer of Scipio to his accuser, adding 'fertur etiam oratio quae videtur habita eo die a Scipione et qui dicunt eam non veram non eunt infitias quin haec quidem verba fuerint, quae dixi, Scipionis.'

20 XXXVIII.56.2.

21 Brut. 56.205 Sulpicii orationes quae feruntur, eas post mortem eius scripsisse P. Canutius putatur, aequalis meus. . . . Ipsius Sulpici nulla oratio est saepeque ex eo audivi cum se scribere neque consuesse neque posse diceret; Orat. 38.132 nihil Sulpici.

22 Cf. Ascon. Pedian. in tog. cand. p95 Or.: feruntur quoque orationes nomine illorum (sc. Catilinae et Antonii) editae, non ab ipsis scriptae sed ab Ciceronis obtrectatoribus quas nescio an satius sit ignorare.

23 Suet. Caes. 55 orationes quaedam reliquit inter quas temere quaedam feruntur.

24 E.g. Plin. N. H. index to Bk. XVIII ex Tarutio qui graece de astris scripsit, Caesare dictatore, qui item; Macrob. Sat. I.16.39; Schol. Luc. Phars. X.185.

25 The statement of Fenestella, refuted by Asconius, p85 Or., that Cicero on one occasion defended Catiline against Clodius may, of course, have been based upon a supposititious speech. But it was more likely a mere suasoria which brought the orator and his two famous enemies into close contact. Cicero's speech in Cass. Dio XLIV.22‑33 belongs to the same class of 'historical orations' discussed above, and is in all probability wholly fictitious.

26 II.267.5.

27 Cf. ad Att. II.4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 22.

28 The letter of Brutus to Cic. (I.16), still suspected by Teuffel-Schwabe, § 188, 4, 3, seems to me to bear all the marks of genuineness.

29 Brut. 53.

30 This plural, in place of γνήσιον, seems, however, to imply that there were other letters of Brutus in circulation which were recognized as apocryphal in Plutarch's day.

31 Class. Stud. pp64 ff.

32 Class. Stud. p65.

33 Suet. Vita Horat., p47 Rf.: venerunt in manus meas et elegi sub titulo eius et epistola prosa oratione quasi commendantis se Maecenati sed utramque falsam puto. Nam elegi vulgares, epistola etiam obscura quo vitio minime tenebatur.

34 De viris ill. c12.

35 Epist. 153.

36 Quint. I. prooem.7 duo iam sub nomine meo libri ferebantur artis rhetoricae neque editi a me neque in hoc comparati. namque alterum sermonem per biduum habitum pueri quibus id praestabatur, exceperant, alterum pluribus sane diebus, quantum notando consequi potuerant, interceptum boni iuvenes, sed nimium amantes mei temerario editionis honore vulgaverant.

37 On the very threshold of the Dark Ages three other writers followed similar methods, but their fabrications are so grotesquely absurd that a mere reference to them must suffice. I allude to Aethicus Ister, the anonymous Ravennas, and the grammarian, Virgilius Maro. The last mentioned, to cite a few instances, quotes as his authorities such names as Balapsidus, Fassica femina, Mitterius Spaniensis, and Falanges Lacedemonius! These impostors probably belong to the seventh century. Cp. Teuffel, Rom. Lit.5 § 497.

38 H. Dunger, Die Sage des trojan. Krieges in den Bearbeitungen des Mittelalters und ihre antiken Quellen, Dresden, 1869; G. Körting, Dictys und Dares, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Troja Sage, Halle, 1874.

39 G. Voigt, Wiederbel. des class. Alterthums, I.49 f.; P. Nolhac, Pétrarque et l'humanisme, p323. Petrarch, as may be remarked, entertained no doubt as to genuineness of either Dares or Dictys. Cf. P. Nolhac, op. cit., p250.

40 In a few MSS., the prologue is preceded by a letter addressed to Q. Aradius Rufinus (a contemporary of Theodosius I) by one L. Septimius, wherein we are told that the Latin history is but a translation from a Greek original in nine books, of which the last four, however, had been epitomized by the writer into one book. The letter repeats, barring a few details, the contents of the Prologue. The long-standing controversy, whether there ever existed a Greek Dictys, upon which the Septimius version was based, has now been definitely decided in the affirmative by the exhaustive examination of F. Noack, Philol. Suppl. vol. VI (1893), pp401‑501, where also the extensive bibliography on this subject is given (esp. p404).

41 The use of consularis in this sense does not occur before the fourth century, as Joh. Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverw. I p549, has pointed out, and therefore constitutes a terminus post quem for the date of the translation.

42 One should have supposed that this object would have been more easily attained if a Latin version had also been made, but in that case Septimius would have had no motive for translating these annales a second time!

43 This was done, I suspect, to inspire confidence in the historical accuracy of the author, this matter-of‑fact narrative contrasting strongly with the many miraculous features of the Homeric story, or else the Latin translator discarded all instances of divine intervention in the original, because of Christian sympathies. The former explanation seems to me on the whole more likely.

44 The original Greek title was probably Φρυγία Ἰλιάς. Cf. Aelian V. H. XI.2. The name Dares occurs in the Iliad (E 9) as a priest of Hephaestos:

ἧν δέ τις ἐν Τρώεσσι Δάρης ἀφνειὸς ἀμύνων,

ἱρεὺς Ἡφαιστοῖο.

This accounts for his partiality to the Trojans, while Dictys is more inclined to favor the Greeks.

45 This recalls some similar phrases in Lucian's Vera Historia, e.g. c13 τούτους ἐγὼ οὐκ ἐθεασάμην· οὐ γὰρ ἀφίκοντο. Δίοπερ οὐ δὲ γράψαι τὰς φύσεις αὐτῶν ἐτόλμησα. 18 τὸ μέντοι πλῆθος αὐτῶν οὐκ ἀνέγραψα, μή τῷº καὶ ἄπιστον δόξῃ. 26 ὅστις δὲ ταῦτα μὴ πιστεύει οὕτως ἔχειν, ἄν ποτε καὶ αὐτὸς ἐκεῖσε ἀφίκεται, εἴσεται ὡς ἀληθῆ λέγω. Cf. also Dares, c12 Dares Phrygius qui hanc historiam scripsit, ait se militasse usque dum Troia capta est, hos se vidisse, partim proelio interfuisse, a Dardanio autem audisse qua facie et natura fuissent Castor et Pollux. 44 sicut acta diurna indicant quae Dares descripsit. I cannot help but feeling that this 'Phrygian Iliad' must have been unknown to Lucian, for he would scarcely have resisted the temptation of holding it up to derision.

46 Orig. I.42º historiam primus apud nos Moyses . . . conscripsit, apud gentiles vero primus Dares Phrygius de Graecis et Troianis historiam edidit quam in foliis palmarum ab eo conscriptam esse ferunt. This latter statement is not found in the extant explanatory epistle, but may have been made in the Greek original. The ferunt shows that Isidorus followed some other Latin source. Teuffel, Rom. Lit. § 471, 4, less plausibly assumes an inaccurate reminiscence, and confusion with the libri ex philyra or tiliae of Dictys.

47 The spuriousness of this pamphlet, which owes its preservation to its incorporation as a letter into Cicero's correspondence, has now been demonstrated by Hendrickson, Am. Jour. Phil. XIII (1892) pp200‑212.

48 IV.1.68; IX.3.89; XI.1.24.

49 Ad Aen. VI.623.

50 G. L. I.387.

51 Treb. Poll. XXX Tyr. 4.2; Auson. Proff. Burd. 2.15; Servius ad Aen. III.661; Hieronymus (4 times); Pompeius; Ennodius; Isidorus; Lactantius.

52 Such stylistic resemblances as are met with are due to similarity of subject-matter and the stereotype sameness of the rhetorical vernacular of the schools. Cp. my Prolegomena to Tac. Dial. de orat. p. lx f.

53 That this actually happened may still be shown in the case of the scholia to Horace, attributed to Acro. This collection was compiled between the fifth and eighth centuries, and is handed down anonymously in our MSS. Some scholar of the fifteenth century, however, believing the extant scholia to be the original work of the famous commentator, attached the name of Acro to them. If some editor had designedly attributed a collection of declamationes to Quintilian, in order to enhance their value or to insure their wider circulation, some of our MSS. would in all likelihood have exhibited Quintilian's name as the author.

54 See the excellent discussion of C. Ganzenmüller, Fleck, Jahrb. Suppl. Vol. XX (1894), pp553‑657.

55 Many scholars, including even Teuffel, Rom. Lit.5 § 245.4, have attempted to account for the composite character of the collection by supposing that it was designed to include the poetical effusions of a literary circle which centred about Messalla. I have never been able to see the slightest warrant for such an assumption.

56 The question as to Seneca's authorship of the other tragedies that bear his name, which Bernhardy and others so confidently denied, is now justly answered in the affirmative. Whether, however, the Hercules Oetaus is at least partly spurious is quite another problem, which cannot be discussed here. I agree with those who believe that the second part has been tampered with. Perhaps the original was lost, the extant portion being a later restoration.

57 "Ista a plerisque exploditur et dicitur non esse Iuvenalis.' The remaining satires — vel invito Ribbeckio — I believe to be genuine.

58 Gell. N. A. I.24 trium poetarum illustrium epigrammata Cn. Naevii, Plautii, M. Pacuvii quae ipsi fecerunt et incidenda sepulchro reliquerunt. Epigramma Naevii . . .

Immórtalés mortáles si forét fas flére

flerént divaé Caménae Naeviúm poétam

Itáque póstquam est órchi tráditus thesáuro

obliti súnt Romae loquiér linguá Latina

. . . Plauti quod dubitassemus an Plauti foret nisi a M. Varrone positum esset in libro de poetis primo:

postquam est mortem aptus Plautus comoedia luget

Scaena est deserta, dein Risus, Ludus Iocusque

Et numeri innumeri simul omnes conlacrimarunt

. . . Pacuvii:

Aduléscens tamen etsi próperas te hoc sáxum rogat

Ut sése aspicias, deinde quod scriptum ést legas:

Hic súnt poetae Pácuvi Marcí sita

Ossa. hóc volebam nescius ne essés. Vale.

59 The epigram of Naevius, e.g. is said by Sellar, the Roman Poets of the Republic, p55, to be 'the most favorable specimen of his style'; the simple and pathetic grandeur of the lines of Pacuvius caused Bücheler, Rhein. Mus. XXXVII.521, to espouse their cause; and of the Plautus epitaph Ritschl, Parerga, p41, remarks: 'et circa ipsum vitae finem epigramma factum esse sepulchro incidendum veri satis est simile.'

60 Tusc. Disp. I.15.34: loquor de principibus quid poetae? Nonne post mortem nobilitari volunt? Unde ergo illud?

Aspicite, o cives, senis Enni imaginis formam.

Hic vestrum panxit maxima facta patrum.

Nemo me dacrumis decoret nec funera fletu

Faxit. Cur? volito vivos per ora virum.

61 Cp. Teuffel-Schwabe, Rom. Lit.5 § 115, 2.

62 Gellius, indeed, quotes the Plautus epitaph from Varro's de poetis, but why should it not have been repeated there? The epitaph on Homer is cited directly from Varro's de imaginibus by the same Gellius (III.11.6).

63 V.211

ós columnatúm poetae esse ínaudivi bárbaro

quoí bini custódes semper tótis hóris óccubant.

64 Ep. II.1.53

Naevius in manibus non est et mentibus haeret

quasi recens?

65 It is highly probable, as Ritschl l.c. suggests, that it was the use of this metre which tempted Gellius to doubt the genuineness of the epitaph.

66 Cic. Orat. 55.184 at comicorum senarii . . . sic saepe sunt abiecti ut nonnumquam vix in eis numerus et versus intellegi possit. Hor. A. P. 270

at vestri proavi Plautinos et numeros et

laudavere sales.

In the time of Quintilian this metrical obtuseness had already reached such a point that he can say (X.1.99) even of the versification of Terence 'plus adhuc habitura gratiae si intra versus trimetros stetissent' and Priscian, de metris Terent., reflecting, as usual, much earlier sources, caps the climax by the statement 'quosdam vel abnegare esse in Terentii comoediis metra vel ea quasi arcana quaedam et ab omnibus doctis semota sibi solis esse cognita confirmare.' If this was the view taken of the metres of Terence, one can well imagine the perplexity of these critics on being confronted with the variegated versification in Plautus. This erroneous notion was not exploded till the appearance of Bentley's famous Schediasma de metris Terentianis.

67 Cf. Hor. Ep. II.I.175

(Plautus) gestit enim nummum in loculos demittere, post hoc

securus cadat an recto stet fabula talo.

68 Cp. K. Dziatko, Autor- und Verlagsrecht im Alterthum, in Rhein. Mus. XLIX (1894), pp559‑577.

69 Parerga, p95.

70 De Plautio poeta et pictore, Bresl. Prooem. 1867.

71 When both Ritschl and Hertz endeavor to meet this objection by saying that there are a great many authors known to us only by name, they forget that in the cases mentioned by them there is no reason to suppose that the writers ever had any real importance, which would not be true of the author of so many plays as Plautius must have composed.

72 I cannot admit that Hertz has been even moderately successful in establishing the identity. The name Plautius is not rare. We even know of one Novius Plautius, also an artist, and a contemporary of Plautus. Cf. Mueller, Arch. § 173, n4.

73 Ritschl, Parerga, p95, indeed, says that one may safely credit Gellius with the ability to distinguish Varronian criticism of another from Varro's own statement. This seems to me to be begging the question. The excerpting Gellius is extremely negligent and not free from misinterpretation, as Ritschl himself admits, e.g. pp87, 107.

74 L. L. VIII.36, p419 Sp. dissimile Plautus et Plautius, commune et huius Plauti et Macci, and cf. Ritschl, Parerga, p25, note. Varro, however, according to Charisius I.15, p59K expressly advocated double 'i' for the genitive of nouns in ius, a usage which seems not to be earlier than Propertius. Cp. Neue, Lat. Formenl. I p85 ff., 91.

75 de gram. et rhet. I (p100 Rf.) quod nonnulli tradunt duos libros de litteris syllabisque, item de metris ab eodem Ennio editos, iure arguit L. Cotta non poetae sed posterioris Enni esse cuius etiam de augurandi disciplina volumina feruntur.

76 Class. Stud., p71 f.

77 Cf. esp. ad Quint. frat. II.1.3 postea Racilius de privatis me primum sententiam rogavit. multa feci verba de toto furore latrocinioque P. Clodii, eum tamquam reum accusavi multis et secundis admurmurationibus cuncti senatus . . . furebat (sc. Clodius) a Racilio se contumaciter urbaneque vexatum . . . de tribunis pleb. longe optimum Racilium habemus.


Thayer's Notes:

a The poem is onsite in the original Latin and an English translation. More recent scholarship has discarded the Lucilian authorship: see the Loeb editor's introduction.

b Curiously, the very last ancient text cited as authoritative by the writer of this entertaining essay — turns out to be from the most notorious of all Roman literary frauds! At the time of Prof. Gudeman's article, "Aelius Spartianus" and his pals "Julius Capitolinus", "Vulcacius Gallicanus", "Aelius Lampridius", "Trebellius Pollio" and "Flavius Vopiscus" were just coming to be conclusively debunked as the six personae of an anonymous perpetrator of a semi-historical work now usually referred to as the Historia Augusta.

For a good exposition of this crowning fraud, then, see the pages at Livius.Org.


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Page updated: 19 Sep 12