The Ancient Library

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charge vaguely preferred, and unsupported by any distinct evidence, that he abused his power when chief magistrate of Rome, in order to oppress the Christians, seems totally destitute of foundation. That his leisure hours were devoted exclusively to literary pursuits, seems evident from the numerous allusions in his epistles to the studies in which he was engaged, and his friendship with Ausonius and other distinguished authors of that epoch proves that he delighted in associating and cor­responding with the learned. His wealth must have been prodigious, for in addition to his town mansion on the Caelian Hill (Ep. iii. 12, 88, vii. 18), and several houses in the city which he lent to his friends, he possessed upwards of a dozen villas in the most delightful parts of Italy, many detached farms, together with estates in Sicily and Mauritania. The following inscription contains a list of his honours and titles as recorded by his son : —

Q. aur. symmacho. V. C. quaest. praet. pontifici. maiori. correctori. lucaniae. et. brittiorum. comiti. ordinis. tertii. procons. africae. praef. urb. Cos. ordinario. ora-


The extant works of Symmachus consist of letters and fragments of speeches.

I. Epistolarum Libri X., published after his death by his son. The last book contains his official correspondence, and is chiefly composed of the letters presented by him when praefect of the city to the emperors under whom he served. The remaining books comprise a multitude of epistles, many of them notes extending to a few lines only, addressed to a wide circle of relations, friends, and acquaintances. They relate for the most part to matters of little moment, and notwithstanding the praises so liberally lavished by Politian and Laetus, are, taken as a whole, uninteresting and destitute of value. The style is elaborated with great and painful diligence. Pliny was the object proposed for imitation, and we are presented with a stiff copy of a stiff model, in which the degenerate taste and decaying Latinity of the fourth century are en­grafted on the solemn pedantry and cold affectation of the original. We must, however, make an exception in favour of the most highly finished and important piece in the collection, the celebrated epistle " DDD. Valentiniano, Theodosio et Arcadio semper Auggg.," entreating them to restore the Altar of Victory to its ancient position in the senate house. This document, whether we con­sider the judicious choice of the arguments employed, the skilful arrangement according to which they succeed and mutually support each other, the art with which they are developed, the pointed energy with which they are enforced, and at the same time the tone of moderation and liberality which pervades the whole, impresses us with deep admi­ration of the genius, learning, dialectic acuteness, and eloquence of the author, who seems to have lacked nothing but a good cause for the display of his talents. Notwithstanding the folly and false­ness of the doctrines which he advocates, this state paper is infinitely superior as a literary composition and a work of art to the well-known reply of St. Ambrosius, which is verbose, abusive, and not always honest.

II. Novem Orationum Fragmenta. Although we were told by Socrates (H.E. v. 14) and Callixtus


{Hist. xii. 21) that Symmachus had published many speeches which were greatly admired (&yav dpiffTOvs), not a single remnant of these was known to exist until very recently, when Mai discovered in one of the palimpsests of the Ambrosian library, fragments of eight orations, and subsequently in another portion of the same palimpsest, deposited in the Vatican, some additional fragments of these eight and also a portion of a ninth. The titles are, 1. Laudes in Valentinianum seniorem Augus-tum I. We have twenty-three short chapters nearly entire; the beginning and the end of the speech are both wanting. 2. Laudes in Valentinia­num seniorem Augustum II. Extending to twenty chapters, in which there are several blanks and imperfections ; the beginning and the end are wanting. 3. Laudes in Gratianum Augustum. Extending to twelve chapters interrupted by two blanks ; the beginning and the end are wanting. 4. Laudes in Patres. Extending to four chapters ; the beginning and the end are wanting. 5. Ora-tio pro Patre, returning thanks for the elevation of his father to the consulship. Ten chapters, inter­rupted by one blank ; the beginning and the end both wanting. 6. Oratio pro Trygetio, recom­mending the son of his friend Trygetius for the praetorship (see Ep. i. 44). Four chapters; the beginning and the end both wanting. 7. Oratio pro Synesio^ recommending the elevation of Synesius, the son of his friend Julianus, to the dignity of a senator (see Ep. v. 43). Seven chapters interrupted by a blank, the portion which follows the third chapter having been obtained from the Vatican MS. We have here the com­mencement of the speech. 8. Oratio pro Flavio Severo. Four chapters ; the beginning and the end both wanting. 9. Oratio pro Valerio Fortu-nato, on behalf of a high-born but poor individual who was unable to defray the expenses incurred by officers of the state. Five chapters ; the beginning and the end are both wanting. It will be seen that the above are all of a panegyrical or compli­mentary character, and while they exhibit consider­able command of language and grace of expression, do not afford an opportunity for the development of oratorical powers of a high order.

We may gather from notices in the epistles and in other writers the arguments of several lost ora­tions, such as Panegyricus Theodosii senioris {Ep. ii. 13.); Panegyricus Maocimi tyranni (Socrat. H. E. v. 14, comp. Ep. ii. 31) ; Oratio de abro-ganda censura (Ep. iv. 29, 45, v. 9) ; Oratio de Polybii jilio (JEp. iv. 45) ; Oratio contra Gildonem, {Ep. iv. 4); Gratiarum actio (Ep. vii. 50. This, as Mai suggests, was perhaps not an oration but an epistle, comp. Ep. ii. 22, iii. 81).

Symmachus composed in verse as well as prose, among other productions a poetic history of Bauli. See the lines in Ep. i. 1.

Jornandes (de Rebus Get. 15) quotes a long pas­sage from an historical work by Symmachus, but it is extremely doubtful whether this Symmachus is the same person with the Symmachus we have now been discussing.

The editio princeps of the epistles of Symma­chus, which contains but a small number of letters, was printed in 4to., by Bartholomaeus Cynischus of Ameria, and although without date or name of place, is known to have been published during the pontificate of Pope Julius II., that is, A. d. 1503— 1513. The second edition, 4to. Argentorat. 1510,

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