Sexti Aureli Victoris, Liber de Caesaribus. Praecedunt Origo gentis Romanae et Liber de uiris ilustribus urbis Romae, subsequitur Epitome de Caesaribus, recensuit Fr. Pichlmayr, editio stereotypa correctior editionis primae addenda et corrigenda iterum collegit et adiecit R. Gruendel, Leipzig 1970, 77-129 (I ed. 1911) (Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana).
The Aurelii Victoris Historiae abbreuiatae or Liber de Caesaribus are designed as a collection of biographies of Roman emperors. Andreas Schott, on publishing the first edition in 1579, divided them into forty chapters; each one narrates the life of a single emperor. As the title indicates, it is a breuiarium, intended, according to the fashion of the time, to give the reader a rough idea of the history of the Roman Empire. The last historical event mentioned in the work coincides with the tenth consulate and the twenty-third year of the reign of Constantius II (360 AD). This fact led scholars to believe that Aurelius Victor started working on this text in 361 and finished, rather quickly, in the same year, in order not only to celebrate the coronation of Julian, but also to offer a sort of manual on good governance to his benefactor, who had given him the governorship of the Pannonia Secunda. Aurelius Victor combines techniques that are characteristic of the historiographical and biographical genres; he gives a moralizing outline of about four hundred years of Roman history, which can be divided into six periods of very different length, starting from the Principate of Augustus: the Julio-Claudian age (chapters 1-5); Galba-Otho-Vitellius (chapters 6-8); the age of Flavian emperors (chapters 9-11); the age of the Antonine and Severan dynasties (chapters 12-24); the epoch from Maximinus Thrax to Tacitus (chapters 25 -37); the period from Carus to Constantius II (chapters 38-42). Of these six ages, the fourth (the Principate of the Antonines and the Severi) represents, in the eyes of Victor, the height of Roman imperial history. Victor’s faith in the idea of Roma aeterna is supported with conservative spirit and a strongly pro-senatorial attitude; his faith never fails, even in dealing with later, turbulent times. The narration of events is far from homogeneous: Victor alternates the use of high-level historical documentation (as far as Latin sources are concerned, he drew his documentation mainly from the works of Suetonius, Tacitus, Marius Maximus, and the enigmatic and evanescent Kaisergeschichte, whose existence was once hypothesized by Enmann; Cassius Dio is a possible Greek source, but it is not certain that Victor knew it at first hand, because his knowledge of Greek is uncertain) with trivial anecdotes and gossip and, for the reign of Constantius II, with first-hand information, taken from eyewitnesses, from official documents, and from panegyrics. This method of work highlights the desire of Aurelius Victor to create an original work, which, on the whole, is not without historiographical merits. as Ammianus Marcellinus, one of Victor’s contemporaries, already pointed out. [G. Vanotti, tr. L. Battezzato]