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Florus: Epitome of Roman History

Text and Translation on LacusCurtius

This part of my site presents a transcription of the original Latin text and the English translation of it by E. S. Forster, as printed in the Loeb Classical Library edition, published in 1929.

The Author, the Manuscripts

As with most ancient authors, not that much is known of Florus; we're not even sure of his full name or his exact dates. What we do know is more or less covered by Prof. Forster's Introduction, along with the manuscript tradition.

A little corrective note to a near universal opinion out there, though, that Florus is inaccurate, dull, and rhetorical. Inaccurate, in details, he may well be: but considering just how difficult it is to summarize seven hundred years of history in a small book, the book is surprisingly good, and I would certainly recommend him to the student who wants to get a solid overview of Roman history.

As for rhetorical, like most of his age, he is indeed that. Yet if we read him carefully, we will see that Florus is by no means as rhetorical as other authors of his period, and, more importantly, rarely indulges in rhetoric for its own sake. He often uses it to bring out interesting connections or to fix ideas in his reader's mind: in fact, not infrequently, what an inattentive reader might dismiss as rhetoric ought instead to tip us off to Florus' dry sense of humor. It's not too much of a stretch to be reminded of Jane Austen's hilarious History of England; not the latter's charm nor genius, mind you — for one thing, he wasn't primarily aiming at writing a comic short story — but Florus avoids what would indeed be a dull schoolbook condensation, by sharing with us his quirky, somewhat cynical view of his subject: in one little section alone, for example, we have elephants whose decorative accents include their own teeth (II.8.16); those artistic and frivolous Greeklings who liked the announcement of their own political freedom just as much as a flute concerto (II.7.15); countries pledging their sacred troth to each other to get themselves conquered a third time (II.14.1), and other instances which you are now armed to spot for yourself. So student beware! You've read that Florus merely summarized Livy and is therefore inferior; plus this is an ancient writer, therefore someone to be both discounted and read so earnestly as to turn off all our critical faculties: maybe instead it's time to read the man for himself, with a fresh eye, without paying too much attention to what someone once said and others have endlessly repeated.

Liber Primus • Book I

Textus Latinus English Translation

I: A Romulo tempora regum VII

I: The Period of the Seven Kings, beginning with Romulus

II: Anaceφalaeosis eorum temporum

II: Recapitulation of the Rule of the Seven Kings

III: De mutatione rei publicae

III: On the Change of Government

IIII: Bellum Etruscum cum rege Porsenna

IIII: The Etruscan War against King Porsenna

V: Bellum Latinum

V: The Latin War

VI: Bellum cum Etruscis Faliscis Veientibus Fidenatibus

VI: The War with the Etruscans, Falisci, Veientines and Fidenates

VII: Bellum Gallicum

VII: The War with the Gauls

VIII: Bella Gallica

VIII: Further Wars with the Gauls

VIIII: Bellum Latinum

VIIII: The Latin War

X: Bellum Sabinum

X: The Sabine War

XI: Bellum Samniticum

XI: The Samnite War

XII: Bellum Etruscum Samniticum Gallicum

XII: The War against the Etruscans, Samnites and Gauls

XIII: Bellum Tarentinum

XIII: The Tarentine War

XIIII: Bellum Picens

XIIII: The Picenian War

XV: Bellum Sallentinum

XV: The Sallentine War

XVI: Bellum Volsiniense

XVI: The Volsinian War

XVII: De Seditionibus

XVII: Of Civil Discords

XVIII: Bellum Punicum primum

XVIII: The First Punic War

XVIIII: Bellum Liguricum

XVIIII: The Ligurian War

XX: Bellum Gallicum

XX: The Gallic War

XXI: Bellum Illyricum

XXI: The Illyrian War

XXII: Bellum Punicum secundum

XXII: The Second Punic War

XXIII: Bellum Macedonicum primum

XXIII: The First Macedonian War

XXIIII: Bellum Syriacum regis Antiochi

XXIIII: The Syrian War against King Antiochus

XXV: Bellum Aetolum

XXV: The Aetolian War

XXVI: Bellum Histricum

XXVI: The Istrian War

XXVII: Bellum Gallograecum

XXVII: The Gallo-Greek War

XXVIII: Bellum Macedonicum secundum

XXVIII: The Second Macedonian War

XXVIIII: Bellum Illyricum secundum

XXVIIII: The Second Illyrian War

XXX: Bellum Macedonicum tertium

XXX: The Third Macedonian War

XXXI: Bellum Punicum tertium

XXXI: The Third Punic War

XXXII: Bellum Achaicum

XXXII: The Achaean War

XXXIII: Res in Hispania gestae

XXXIII: Operations in Spain

XXXIIII: Bellum Numantinum

XXXIIII: The Numantine War

XXXV: Bellum Asiaticum

XXXV: The Asiatic War

XXXVI: Bellum Jugurthinum

XXXVI: The Jugurthine War

XXXVII: Bellum Allobrogum

XXXVII: The War with the Allobroges

XXXVIII: Bellum Cimbricum Teutonicum Tigurinum

XXXVIII: The War with the Cimbri, Teutones and Tigurini

XXXVIIII: Bellum Thracicum

XXXVIIII: The Thracian War

XL: Bellum Mithridaticum

XL: The Mithridatic War

XLI: Bellum piraticum

XLI: The War against the Pirates

XLII: Bellum Creticum

XLII: The Cretan War

XLIII: Bellum Balearicum

XLIII: The Balearic War

XLIIII: Expeditio in Cyprum

XLIIII: The Expedition to Cyprus

XLV: Bellum Gallicum

XLV: The Gallic War

XLVI: Bellum Parthicum

XLVI: The Parthian War

XLVII: Anaceφalaeosis

XLVII: Recapitulation

Liber Alter • Book II

Textus Latinus English Translation

I: De legibus Gracchanis

I: On the Gracchan Laws

III: Seditio Ti. Gracchi

II: The Revolution of Tiberius Gracchus

III: Seditio C. Gracchi

III: The Revolution of Gaius Gracchus

IIII: Seditio Apuleiana

IIII: The Revolution of Apuleius

V: Seditio Drusiana

V: The Revolution of Drusus

VI: Bellum adversus socios

VI: The War against the Allies

VII: Bellum servile

VII: The Servile War

VIII: Bellum Spartacium

VIII: The War against Spartacus

VIIII: Bellum civile Marianum

VIIII: The Civil War of Marius

X: Bellum Sertorianum

X: The War with Sertorius

XI: Bellum civile sub Lepido

XI: The Civil War under Lepidus

XII: Bellum Catilinae

XII: The War against Catiline

XIII: Bellum civile Caesaris et Pompei

XIII: The Civil War between Caesar and Pompeius

XIV: Bellum Caesaris Augusti

XIV: The War of Caesar Augustus

XV: Bellum Mutinense

XV: The War round Mutina

XVI: Bellum Perusinum. Triumviratus

XVI: The War round Perusia. The Triumvirate

XVII: Bellum Cassi et Bruti

XVII: The War against Cassius and Brutus

XVIII: Bellum cum Sexto Pompeio

XVIII: The War against Sextus Pompeius

XVIIII: Bellum Parthicum sub Ventidio

XVIIII: The Parthian War under Ventidius

XX: Bellum Parthicum sub Antonio

XX: The Parthian War under Antonius

XXI: Bellum cum Antonio et Cleopatra

XXI: The War against Antonius and Cleopatra

XXII: Bellum Noricum

XXII: The Norican War

XXIII: Bellum Illyricum

XXIII: The Illyrian War

XXIIII: Bellum Pannonicum

XXIIII: The Pannonian War

XXV: Bellum Delmaticum

XXV: The Dalmatian War

XXVI: Bellum Moesum

XXVI: The Moesian War

XXVII: Bellum Thracicum

XXVII: The Thracian War

XXVIII: Bellum Dacicum

XXVIII: The Dacian War

XXVIIII: Bellum Sarmaticum

XXVIIII: The Sarmatian War

XXX: Bellum Germanicum

XXX: The German War

XXXI: Bellum Gaetulicum

XXXI: The Gaetulian War

XXXII: Bellum Armenicum

XXXII: The Armenian War

XXXIII: Bellum Cantabricum et Asturicum

XXXIII: The War with the Cantabrians and Asturians

XXXIIII: Pax Parthorum et consecratio Augusti

XXXIIII: The Peace with Parthia and the Deification of Augustus

Copyright

The translation is now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1957 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

Chapter and Section Numbering, Local Links

The small section numbers mark local links, according to a consistent scheme; you can therefore link directly to any passage. Similarly, for citation purposes, the Loeb edition pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode.

For the larger units of text, the Loeb edition uses two numbering schemes: the first, in two Books and large sections bearing Roman numerals, is prominent in their pages and therefore on this site as well; the second is more discreetly marked, in four Books and somewhat smaller sections bearing Arabic numerals. This may mystify you, gentle reader, as much as it did me for a while, especially since nowhere does the Loeb edition explain the situation. As I eventually discovered, though, the two schemes are those of competing editions: the prominent one is the norm today, the discreet one is the older system, still sometimes referenced.

Finally, the "Parts" referred to on this site, as in the header bars and the window title bars, are of no authority: they merely stand for my own division of the work into webpages.

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere on this site, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

Other Texts of the Epitome Online

Two other Latin texts of Florus may be found online, each one a different edition, and different from the Loeb edition I present here:

1 (with a French translation) 2.

The 1889 English translation by Selby Watson is also online as well; and if you're looking for the Commentarii de Bello of Florus Germanicus — not the same author, but a 17c scholar — he too is online, at the University of Mannheim.

The Poems of Florus

As you read in the Introduction, the author of the Epitome of Roman History may be the same man as the poet; and then again, maybe not: therefore the latter gets his own separate orientation page.


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