Arusiani Messi Exempla elocutionum, introduzione, testo critico e note a cura di A. Di Stefano, Hildesheim 2011 (Collectanea Grammatica Latina 6).
Arusianus Messus’s Exempla elocutionum, which seems to have been compiled at the end of the 4th c. AD, is an unusual product of the rhetorical-grammatical culture of late antiquity. The brief work is structured as a collection of loci communes in poetry and prose, drawn from authors of the so-called quadriga (Terence, Cicero, Sallust, and Vergil), which aims to exemplify and to ensure proper, classical Latin usage by furnishing a substantial list of syntactical constructions, nexuses, and idiomatic phrases. The work arranges the elocutiones under more than 1000 lemmata; the nominal organization of these is alphabetical, but some letters are ordered in a manner that appears largely haphazard. Citations in the Exempla are drawn from Terence’s comedies, Cicero’s orations (plus some from the Republic, the Tusculan Disputations, and the De Divinatione), Sallust’s three works, and the corpus of Vergil. The work outlines various grammatical elements (verbs, substantives, adjectives, prepositions with several constructions) and is envisioned—to judge from this plan—as a careful and succinct handbook of syntax. One nevertheless finds joined to and mixed in with this typology of elocutiones occasional instances of idiomatic phrasing or slang that are used by the auctores (e.g. temporal expressions, military and judicial terminology, phrases typical of the theater): this fact, which differentiates the Exempla from other de elocutionibus collections, suggests that Arusianus may have read—at least in part—full versions of the texts on which he draws. Taken as a whole, therefore, the work must be seen as a hybrid text. Indeed, its adoption of a fluid alphabetical ordering and regular, explicit citation of auctores (with reference to the specific works and books cited) connects it to the tradition of exegetical and antiquarian glossaries that were compiled at Rome prior to the time of Varro — a line that runs from Verrius Flaccus’s De verborum significatu to Flavius Caper’s De latinitate and Julius Romanus’s Ἀφορμαί. Even so, the Exempla’s simplified reflection on Latinity—suffice it here to invoke the work being limited to authors of the quadriga—appears to draw the brief text into the ambit of the more technical artes grammaticae, or at least into the process of redaction and interest in linguistic functionality from which such texts sprang. This oscillation of interests appears to be confirmed, on the side of the artes, by the correspondence between Arusianus and grammarians such as Diomedes, Cledonius, and Sergius (thus Keil, Della Casa), and on the side of the erudite tradition by the overt reference, in parts of the Exempla, to Carisius Ars 5, dedicated to a broad reflection on the Latin language on a variety of levels (de idiomatibus, de differentiis, de latinitate, etc.)
Arusianus uses a diverse system in citing authors and works. Thus for authors one finds, in the case of Sallust, Sal., Salust., Salustius, and in the case of Terence, Ter., Terent., Terentius; for works, on the other hand, one finds Vergil’s poetry identified variously with Buc. / Buco., Geor. / Georg., and Aen., as well as by the full form of the genitive, e.g. Aeneidos V, Georgicorum IV; and Sallust’s works identified with Bel. Catil., Bello Catil., Bello Cat., or Catil., as well as bello Iug. / Iug.; hist. / histo. Similar variety is found in the titles of Cicero’s orations and Terence’s comedies. As regards the system of citation, the Exempla is sometimes accurate, but at other times quotes selections of the text erroneously. It is more reliable in its excerptio of Vergil’s works, a fact that indicates the author possessed a good mastery of the text and solid knowledge of meter. The same cannot be said for his quotations of Terence’s comedies, where a tendency to abbreviate or reverse the text compromises the verses’ rhythmic flow (De Nonno 1990). The citation of prose works is more problematic still, since there one frequently finds omissions and clumsy shortenings that sometimes work to undermine the very sense of the exemplum. Even so, despite presenting examples in a manner that is not always clear, Arusianus’s work plays a significant role in the transmission of the auctores, not only as our solitary source of certain passages of Sallust’s Histories (Di Salvo 1981, id. 1982; Funari) and some fragments of Cicero (Karbaum 1886, id. 1889; De Paolis), but also—in relation to all the works—for the transmission of countless individual readings that often preserve genuine textual variants: here the Exempla occasionally agree with part of the direct tradition, while in other places they serve as our only testimony for possible variants. Personal reflections by the author are rare, however, and the commentary of Arusianus himself, which can be gathered from a few entries, is usually made through reference to other critics who are never named (aliqui, quidam).
The Exempla elocutionum was among the texts the Humanist Giorgio Galbiate discovered at Bobbio in 1493 (these included a handful of grammatical handbooks and poetic texts such as Rutilius Namatianus, Dracontius, Prudentius; on which see Ferrari 1970; Morelli 1989). It was included in a copy of grammatical texts that was assembled by the same Galbiate at Milan, in collaboration with Tristano Calco (now ms. Napoli, Biblioteca Nazionale IV A 11). The lost Bobbio antigraph, which attributed the Exempla doubly to Arusianus and to the more famous Fronto (the latter identification being supported by Mai), stands at the head of the transmission of Arusianus’s text, which is otherwise entirely modern by way of the Neapolitan edition. Two other copies of this version were made at Rome: one prepared by the Calabrian Humanist Giano Parrasio (now ms. Nap. IV A 12); and another arranged by Niccolò Liburnio and revised by Fulvio Orsini (now ms. Vat. lat. 3402). Numerous apographs were subsequently produced from Liburnio’s copy (Vat. lat. 5170; Vat. lat. 5216; Vat. lat. 7179; Ambr. D 498 inf.). Parrasio’s manuscript, which includes invaluable emendations and conjectures—chief of which is the decisive attribution of the work to Arusianus rather than to Fronto—spawned the transalpine branch of testimonia of Arusianus. This transmission is extremely complex, but can nevertheless be reconstructed. At Naples the manuscript was copied by the Dutch philologist Nicolas Heinsius (a fragment of which survives in ms. Oxford D’Orville 29 [ff. 1-3]), and from this another was prepared by Marquard Gude in 1659 (now ms. Wolfenbüttel Gud. Lat. 281). Again at Naples, the English scholar Jacques Philippe D’Orville made an apograph of Parrasio’s manuscript (now ms. Oxford, Bodleian Library, D’Orville 28), as well as a copy that was probably intended to be editorial (now ms. Oxford, Bodleian Library, D’Orville 29). An apograph of D’Orville’s copy was then made by P. Burman Jr. in 1737 (now ms. Utrecht, Bibl. der Rijksuniversiteit, 817), which was itself the antigraph for Pietro Bondam when he produced two other copies (now ms. Leiden Periz. Q. 85 (1760) and ms. Berlin Diez B. Sant. 97, 4, which belonged to the Dutchman van Santen). Although these testimonia are chiefly descripti of Parrasio’s copy and thus do not preserve unique readings within the transmission of the Exempla, they nevertheless attest to the short work’s popularity among 16th-17th c. scholars. Parrasio’s role is thus important, for his copy was subjected to near-constant emendation and philological work that were based not only on comparisons between the exempla assembled by Arusianus and, where possible, the direct transmission of individual auctores, but also on a revision of his text on the basis of the antigraph Nap. IV A 11. Likewise of great significance are a few of the Humanist’s clearly conjectural interventions, since they speak to divergences from the direct tradition or a total absence of disagreement. [A. Di Stefano; tr. C. L. Caterine].