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 p. vii  Introduction

See also the introduction to the Loeb edition of the poet Florus
and the introduction to Florus at Livius.Org.

The Author

Remarkably little is known of the author of the Epitome; even his correct name is quite uncertain. Most recent editors give him the name of L. Annaeus Florus, which is found in the title of the work in the Codex Palatinus 894, rejecting the name Julius Florus, which occurs in the title of the Codex Bambergensis, on the grounds that the absence of any praenomen is suspicious and that the name Julius may well be due to a corruption.​1 It is not impossible, however, that none of the titles given in the MSS. are correct, and that the author of the Epitome is identical with the P. Annius Florus who was a poet and a friend of Hadrian (Spartianus, Hadr. 16) and author of the Dialogue Vergilius orator an poeta, part of the introduction of which has been preserved in a MS. at Brussels and is appended to the editions of Halm and Rossbach. He may have been a relative of Seneca, Lucan and Pomponius Mela. The Brussels fragment gives us some biographical detail about its author. He was born, we are told, in Africa and as a boy took part at Rome under Domitian in the Capitoline Competition, but was unsuccessful owing to favouritism; in disgust at  p. viii his failure, he travelled abroad for a time, eventually settling down at Tarraco in Spain and adopting the profession of letters. He must subsequently have migrated toº Rome in the principate of Hadrian.

The Epitome itself contains no internal evidence about the life of its author except as to the date at which he composed the work. He states (I. Introd., 8) that a period of not much less than two hundred years had elapsed since Caesar Augustus (a Caesare Augusto in saeculum nostrum haud multo minus anni ducenti). It is difficult to decide how to interpret the words a Caesare Augusto. It would perhaps be most natural to take 27 B.C., the date of the foundation of the Principate, as the floruit of Augustus, in which case the composition of the Epitome would fall in the Principate of Marcus Aurelius. If, on the other hand, we may take the birth of Augustus in 63 B.C. as the beginning of the period of two hundred years, the date of the composition will fall in the second half of the Principate of Hadrian, a date which is consistent with the identification of the author as the literary friend of Hadrian.

The Work

The Epitome is an abridgement of Roman History with special reference to the wars waged by the Roman people from the foundation of the city down to the age of Augustus. In the MSS. it is described as an epitome of Livy, and no doubt owes much to that author, who is sometimes quoted verbatim, but Livy is by no means the only source, and Florus frequently makes statements which are at variance with those of Livy. The works of Sallust and  p. ix Caesar were certainly employed by the epitomist, and there are reminiscences of Vergil and Lucan. There is reason to suppose the Histories of the elder Seneca were also used as a source. It is probable that Florus imitated the division of the history of Rome into four ages — infancy, youth, manhood and old age — from this writer, who, according to Lactantius (Inst. Div. VII.15.4), employed this division.

The work was deliberately planned as a panegyric of the Roman people, and interprets events, wherever it is possible, in a sense favourable to the Romans. The author is strikingly free of any political bias, except that in the Civil War he appears to side with Julius Caesar rather than with Pompeius.

The Bamberg MS. adopts a division, which has been followed by most editors, into two books, the first dealing with the growth and establishment of the empire, and the second with its decline, the Gracchan age forming the line of division.

Though not ineffective as giving a general sketch of Roman History, the work is inaccurate in detail and full of inconsistencies and errors both chronological and geographical. The author possesses a certain literary gift, often, however, marred by a strong tendency to rhetoric, which, though occasionally felicitous, more frequently shows itself in fantastic exaggeration and empty bombast. The author's love of brevity too often leads to obscurity, and the constant insertion of exclamatory remarks and the poverty of vocabulary are irritating characteristics.

The Epitome once enjoyed — perhaps owing to its rhetorical character — a considerable popularity and  p. x was widely used as a school-book as late as the end of the seventeenth century. The Elzevir Press alone published six editions between the years 1638 and 1674.

The Text

It is now generally recognized that the best MS. of Florus is the Codex Bambergensis E III 22 (B), which dates from the beginning of the ninth century. Its importance was first pointed out by Seebode in 1821, but Otto Jahn was the first editor to make full use of it in the Teubner edition of 1852. It has also been collated by Halm and Rossbach. It is written on parchment and contains also the History of Dares Phrygius and the Breviarium of Festus.

The Codex Bambergensis ends abruptly at profundo, ten words before the end of II.33, and the preceding passage beginning at recreatus, twenty-six words before the end of II.32, is written in rather darker ink by a later hand (B1), which also added several omitted passages (I.Introduction 1, Populus to 3, videantur; II.1.1, seditionum to 2, gentium; II.29, sarmatae to pacem; II.30, 34, tres legiones to 36, patronos; II.31, Haec to victoria fuit, and inserted the headings and lists of chapters, besides making minor corrections throughout the text. It seems certain that B1 had the same original before him, adding passages where B had been unable to decipher the MS., and making corrections where B had erred; his readings, therefore, are to be regarded as worthy of every consideration. Another hand (B2) made a smaller number of less  p. xi important corrections in the eleventh or twelfth century.

The Codex Bambergensis stands in a class by itself; the other existing MSS. belong to one family. The oldest of these is the Codex Palatinus Latinus 894 (N), formerly in the Library of the Monastery of St. Nazarius at Lorsch, and therefore often known as the Codex Nazarianus. It is written on parchment and dates from the end of the ninth century. It has corrections, no doubt taken from the same archetype, by the same hand that wrote the original, and by a later hand of the twelfth century which sometimes emends small errors but more often introduces corrupt readings. It has been collated by Jahn (in a somewhat summary manner), by Wölfflinº and by Rossbach.

The third MS. of first-rate importance is the Codex Leidensis Vossianus 14 (L), written on parchment in a fine hand of the eleventh century. It is closely related to N, but contains too many discrepancies to be derived directly from it.

Other MSS. of the same class are:—

The Codex Palatinus Heidelbergensis 1568 (Palat.) of the eleventh century;

The Codex Harleianus 2620 (Harl.), in the British Museum, of the thirteenth century;

The Codex Monacensis 6392 (Monac.) of the eleventh century;

The Codex Parisinus 5802 (Paris. 5802), which is known to have been used by Petrarch, and the Codex Parisinus 7701 (Paris. 7701), both of the twelfth century.

The Codex Leidensis Vossianus 77 (Voss.); and

 p. xii  The Codex Vratislaviensis Rehdigeranus R78 (Rehd.), of the fifteenth century but containing some excellent corrections.

Another important authority for the text of Florus is the work of the historian Jordanes (I), a Goth, who in the middle of the sixth century wrote a work entitled De summa temporum vel origine actibusque gentis Romanorum, in which he made extensive use of Florus; he copies him, with a few omissions and alterations, for the period down to the Macedonian wars (Florus, I.1‑28), and again for the Parthian war (I.46), the war against Antony and Cleopatra (II.21), and the wars of Augustus (II.22‑27). Although the MS. of Florus which Jordanes used was much older than B, it was closely allied to it and has many faults in common with it, and only occasionally provides a better reading. Jordanes is a somewhat uncertain guide: he himself confesses that he was agrammaticus, and he sometimes misunderstands his authorities; but where he confirms the reading of B, as he often does, his testimony is of great value. His work has been preserved in several MSS., of which the Codex Heidelbergensis and the Codex Pollingensis are the most important.

For the text of the present edition B is taken as the basis, and the apparatus criticus aims at giving the authority, whether of an MS. or of an editor, for any important variations from the readings of B which have been inserted in the text. In order not to overburden the apparatus criticus, where the reading of B has been adopted, none of the variants which may be presented by the other MSS. are  p. xiii usually mentioned, and small corrections of orthography have not been noted. Readers who require a complete apparatus criticus should consult the edition of Rossbach.


The following are the principal editions of Florus:—

Editio Princeps, without date or place (Paris, circa 1470).

Aldus:º Venice, 1521.

E. Vinetus: Poitiers, 1554.

C. Salmasius: Heidelberg, 1609.

J. Freinsheim: Strassburg, 1632.

J. G. Graevius: Utrecht, 1680.

C. A. Duker: Leyden, 1722.

G. Seebode: Leipzig, 1821.

O. Jahn: Leipzig, 1852.

C. Halm: Leipzig, 1854.

O. Rossbach: Leipzig, 1896.

Florus has been translated into English by J. Davies (1670; a version which was re-issued in 1672 with corrections by Casaubon), and by J. S. Watson in Bohn's Classical Library.

I wish to express my warmest thanks to my colleague, Professor W. C. Summers, Firth Professor of Latin in the University of Sheffield, who kindly read through the translation in MS. His suggestions have enabled me to make improvements on practically every page of the book.

Edw. S. Forster.

The Loeb Editor's Note:

1 See Rossbach in the Teubner text, pp.º xliii.

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Page updated: 18 Oct 14