In 1902, Hagen published two Explanationes to Vergil’s Eclogues under the name “Iunius Philargyrius,” prefacing those texts with two Vergilian biographies or accessus that he found included with the commentaries in the manuscripts. Owing to this fact of transmission, the Lives have normally been attributed to Philargyrius and are thus commonly known as Vitae Philargyrii I and II (the second of these is shorter than the first, as in the case of the corresponding Explanationes). Klotz, followed by Wieser and Büchner, hypothesized that Philargyrius wrote a longer Vita Vergili from which these two biographies are ultimately derived; that original Vergilian life, in turn, will have depended on a lost Vita written by Donatus that is different from the extant text known today as Donatus’ Vita Vergili (for clarity these scholars call the extant text the “Berner Vita”), which they deem a lacunose summary of the hypothesized document. This theory has been criticized by Grisart and is not accepted now. The Vitae Philargyrii have been published under the name “Philargyrius” in the collections of Vitae Vergilianae (Diehl; Brummer; Bayer; Brugnoli-Stok; Ziolkowski-Putnam). Nonetheless, an article written by Morgan-Ziolkowski in the recent Virgil Encyclopedia attributes the Vitae to Philagrius, who is said probably to have been a late-antique commentator (cf. Geymonat 1984, 1985).
The two Vitae, however, should in fact be attributed to the early medieval compiler of the collection: although Vita I is based primarily on Aelius Donatus’ Vita Vergili, it borrows a passage from Isidore’s Origines, which circulated in the British Isles during the 7th c. AD. For this reason, it may be possible to identify the compiler as the “Fatosus” named as author of the subscriptio: indeed, this is essentially a Latin calque of the Irish name “Toicthech” (Miles 2011: 28). Less certain, though often repeated by scholars, is the identification of this person with Adamnanus, abbot of the monastery of Iona in the Hebrides Islands from 679-704 AD, a proposition based on the name “Adamnanus” being included in one of the scholia to the Eclogues (Thilo 1860: 132-3, followed by Daintree in Ziolkowski-Putnam 2008: 675). Vita Philargyrii I is based primarily on Aelius Donatus’ Vita Vergili, partially on Isidore, and also on the Vergilian lemmata found in Jerome’s Chronicon. Vita Philargyrii II depends in part on Vita I; the remainder is essentially a mosaic of material from Servius and Jerome. [F. Stok; tr. C. L. Caterine].