Until the beginning of the sixteenth century, Sextus Aurelius Victor was know to have written the Epitome de Caesaribus and nothing else. However, at the end of the same century, between 1577 and 1579, Andreas Schott was able to find a humanistic manuscript of the fifteenth century, known as Bruxellensis or Pulmanni (P Bibl. Reg. 9757), which contains three short texts; the manuscript gives them in the following order: Origo gentis Romanae, De viris illustribus Urbis Romae, Historiae abbreviatae or Liber de Caesaribus. Scholars soon ascertained that the four works (the Epitome and the three listed in the codex Pulmanni) had to be attributed to different authors; according to some scholars, all of them date from the fourth century AD.
Aurelius Victor is the only one of these four authors who is known to us. A well-established scholarly consensus agrees that he wrote only the Historiae abbreviatae. The other three texts (Epitome, Origo and De viris illustribus) are pseudoepigraphic. The three short texts transmitted by the codex Pulmanni were soon identified as being part of a corpus tripertitum or Aurelianum, which therefore included the Origo gentis Romanae (a narration of the early history of Latium from the reign of Janus to Romulus’ founding of the city), the De viris illustribus Urbis Romae (a text which deals with the period between the reign of Procas, King of Alba, and the death of Cleopatra), and finally the Historiae abbreviatae or Liber de Caesaribus, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from Augustus to the tenth consulate of Constantius II (360 AD). The corpus was assembled by an unknown compiler. According to some scholars (D'Anna), the compiler not only reworked the original titulus of the Origo (transformed into the long introductory titulus of entire corpus tripertitum: Origo gentis Romanae a Iano et Saturno conditoribus per succedentes sibimet reges usque ad consulatum decimum Costantii, digesta ex auctoribus Verrio Flacco, Antiate - ut quidem idem Verrius maluit dicere quam Antia - tum ex annalibus pontificum, dein Cincio, Egnatio, Veranio, Fabio Pictore, Licinio Macro, Varrone, Caesare, Tuberone, atque ex omni priscorum historia, proinde ut quisque neotericorum asseuerauit, hoc est et Liuius et Victor Afer); he also wrote the opening chapters of the short treatise (1-9), and created the so-called "legatura" (‘binding, transition’), that is a passage linking the final part of the Origo and the beginning of De viris illustribus. Other scholars (Richard) suggested that the title Origo gentis Romanae was originally intended as a general title for the entire corpus and that only at a later time did it come to designate this short work, as transmitted to us.
Opinions on the date of creation of the corpus vary: scholars have suggested dates ranging from the late fourth century, soon after Aurelius Victor wrote his Historiae abbreviatae (Momigliano, D'Anna, Sehlmeyer), to the end of the sixth century (Puccioni, Richard) and the Middle Ages (D'Elia). It has been hypothesized (Momigliano) that the unknown compiler assembled the corpus in the late fourth century in order to create a summary of the entire Roman history in biographical form; the corpus was meant for a pagan educated audience, in contraposition to the so-called Chronica Urbis Romae, a work of Christian character, written in the mid-fourth century and narrating the history of Rome from the mythical king Faun until the death of Licinius Licinianus (324 AD). Certainly one of the aims of the corpus was to highlight and reaffirm the continuity and persistence of the ethical, political, and military traditions of the City and of its empire. Recently, it has been suggested (D'Anna) that the creator of the corpus tripertitum should be identified with the grammaticus that refers to himself, citing one of his works, at ll. 26-29 of the first chapter of the Origo gentis Romanae. [G. Vanotti; tr. L. Battezzato]