saec. V (sec.)
Everything we know about Martianus Capella comes from autobiographical references contained in his De nuptiis and from the inscriptions in the manuscripts. As for his name, the subscriptiones transmit the sequence Martianus Minnaeus Felix Capella, while in the work itself we find only Felix (6.576; 8.806) or Felix Capella (9.999). From the same subscriptions we also learn that he came from Carthage (Afer Carthaginiensis; at 9.997 Martianus calls himself alumnus beatae urbis Elissae), while internal evidence suggests that Martianus was a practicing advocate (3.577; 9.999).
The De nuptiis was written after Porphyrius (AD 233/234-305) and Iamblicus (AD 250-c. 330), since Martianus draws on them in his own work; likewise, it was written before Cassiodorus (AD 485-c. 580), since that author knew of the text under consideration, but was unable to consult it (Cass. Inst. 2.3.20: audivimus etiam Felicem Capellam aliqua de disciplinis scripsisse deflorata, ne talibus litteris fratrum simplicitas linqueretur ignara; quae tamen ad manus nostras adhuc minime pervenire potuerunt). A subscriptio at the end of the first book provides us with a terminus ante quem; preserved in a number of manuscripts, this attests to the work of collation and emendation that was conducted at Rome by Securus Melior Felix and by his student Deuterius (Securus Melior Felix, vir spectabilis comes, consistorianus, rhetor Urbis Romae, ex mendosissimis exemplaribus emendabam contra legente Deuterio, scolastico, discipulo meo, Romae, ad portam Capenam, consulatu Paulini, viri carissimi, sub V nonarum Martiarum, Christo adiuvante). The subscription is dated between AD 498 (Cameron 1986) and 528-34 (Préaux 1975).
One piece of evidence that allows us to narrow down the terminus ante quem is contained in a verse at the end of the work (9.999: proconsolari vero dantem culmini). According to Schievenin (2009), the proconsulare culmen is Byrsa Hill at Carthage, on which the seat of the proconsul of Africa was located. The last Roman proconsul dates to AD 429: at this time the Vandals came to Africa, and from AD 439 their king established himself on Byrsa Hill. The majority of scholars today thus tentatively date the work’s composition to the beginning of the 5th c. AD.
Shanzer’s suggestion of a later dating, viz. to a period around AD 470 (Shanzer 1986), would not be reconcilable with the date that Cameron proposed for the subscriptio, since we must allow at least a few decades for the text to deteriorate to the extent indicated by Securus Felix’ subscription (Cameron 1986; Cristante 2008). [G. Cattaneo; tr. C. L. Caterine].