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 p289  Introduction
to Laus Pisonis

The Panegyric on Piso, by a young poet who pleads poverty but covets literary fame in preference to wealth, is addressed to one Calpurnius Piso, who is eulogised as eloquent in the law-courts, in the senate and in private declamation; as generous, musical, and an adept in the chess-like game of latrunculi. Such qualities agree with the description in Tacitus (Ann. XV.48) of that Gaius Calpurnius Piso who was the ill-fated figure-head of the abortive plant in A.D. 65 against Nero: they also agree with the scholium on Juvenal's Piso bonus (V.109), which mentions this particular Piso's power of drawing crowds to see him play the ludus latrunculorum. The identification with the noble conspirator is plausible, though we can prove neither that Piso bonus was the conspirator nor that Piso the conspirator had been consul, as the person addressed in Laus Pisonis, 70, clearly had been. This latter point decided Hubaux (Les Thèmes Bucoliques, p185) to see in the person addressed Lucius Calpurnius Piso, consul with Nero in A.D. 57.

The authorship is still more doubtful. In the now missing Lorsch manuscript the poem was erroneously assigned to Virgil. Certain similarities to Lucan's style indicate identity rather of period than of authorship, though the old ascription to Lucan has  p290 found modern support. The names of Ovid, Saleius Bassus and Statius have been advocated, of whom the first lived too early and the others too late to write the Laus Pisonis. Resemblances in style and in careful metrical technique led Haupt (opusc. I.391) to argue that the work was by the pastoral poet Calpurnius Siculus. Haupt himself lost confidence in his hypothesis; and it has been opposed by G. Ferrara in Calpurnio Siculo e il panegirico a Calpurnio Pisone, Pavia, 1905.


Editio Princeps in J. Sichard's edn. of Ovid. Vol. II pp546‑549. Basel, 1527.

Hadrianus Junius. Lucani poema ad Calpurnium Pisonem ex libro Catalecton in Animadversorum Libri Sex. Basel, 1556.
[Junius used a Codex Atrebatensis of which we lack subsequent record, unless Ullman is right in identifying it with the Arras Florilegium; see infra under Sigla "a."]

Jos. Scaliger. Lucani ad Calpurn. Pisonem Paneguricumº in Virgilii Maronis Appendix. Lyon, 1573.
[Scaliger's text follows that of Junius, and agrees with the Paris MSS. more than with the editio princeps.]

J. C. Wernsdorf. Poet. Lat. Min. IV pp236‑282. Saleii Bassi ad Calpurnium Pisonem poemation, Lucano vulgo adscriptum. Altenburg, 1785.

J. Held. Incerti Auctoris ad Calp. Pisonem carmen. Breslau, 1831.

 p291  C. Beck. Statii ad Pisonem poemation. Ansbach, 1835.

C. F. Weber. Incerti auctoris carmen panegyricum in Calpurn. Pisonem (apparat. crit. and prolegomena). Marburg, 1859.

E. Baehrens. Poet. Lat. Min. I pp221‑236, Incerti Laus Pisonis. Leipzig, 1879.

Gladys Martin. Laus Pisonis (thesis), Cornell Univ. U. S. A., 1917.
[Introduction, text, notes.]

B. L. Ullman. The Text Tradition and Authorship of the Laus Pisonis in Class. Philol. XXIV (192) pp109‑132.
[As the Florilegia are the only existing MSS. of the Laus, Ullman prints a restoration of their archetype.]

Relevant Works

R. Unger. P. Papinii Statii ad Calp. Pisonem Poemation, Jahns Jahrb. 1836, p261.

M. Haupt. De Carminibus Bucolicis Calpurnii et Nemesiani, Berlin, 1854, and Opusc. I p391. Leipzig, 1875.

E. Woelfflin. Zu dem carmen panegyricum in Calp. Pisonem, in Philologus XVII (1861) pp340‑344.

J. Maehly, Zur Literatur des Panegyricus in Pisonem, Fleckeis. Jahrb. 1862, p286.

G. Ferrara. Calpurnio Siculo e il panegirico a Calpurnio Pisone. Pavia, 1905.

F. Skutsch. T. Calpurnius Siculus, in P. W. Real-encycl. III.1404.

C. Chiavola. Della vita e dell' opera di Tito Calpurnio Siculo, pp24‑36. Ragusa, 1921.

 p292  J. Hubaux. Les Thèmes Bucoliques dans la poésie latine, esp. pp184‑185. Bruxelles, 1930.


S = readings in J. Sichard's edition of Ovid, Vol. II pp546 sqq., Basel, 1527, representing a lost manuscript of the Laus Pisonis in the monastery at Lorsch (ex bibliotheca Laurissana).

Two MSS. of Florilegia containing, along with excerpts from other authors, excerpts amounting to almost 200 lines of the Laus (the gaps represent over 60 lines): —

p = Parisinus-Thuaneus 7647, 12th‑13th century.

n = Parisinus-Nostradamensis 17903, 13th century.

P = Consensus of p and n.

B. L. Ullman, op. cit., adds evidence from three other kindred Florilegia: —

a = one at Arras which he believes may be Junius' Atrebatensis.

e = one in the Escorial, Q. I. 14.

b = one in Berlin (Diez. B. 60 f. 29) containing a few lines and probably descended from e.

[Ullman thinks the common ancestor-manuscript of epa was "a sister or cousin of n: thus the testimony of n is worth as much as that of the other three manuscripts together."]

The main variants from Baehrens' text are noted.

 p293  Bibliographical addendum (1982)

Laus Pisonis, (text, German translation, commentary), ed. Arno Seel, Diss. Erlangen, 1969 (argues, not very plausibly, that Lucan was the author of the poem).

Thayer's Note: The above Bibliographical addendum remains under copyright (© Harvard University Press 1982). It is so brief as surely to fall under fair use.

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