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 work appears in the manuscripts under the lengthy title of Libellus de vita et moribus imperatorum breviatus ex libris Sexti Aurelii Victoris a Caesare Augusto usque ad Theodosium; for this reason, it was conceived for many centuries as an epitome of the writing of Aurelius Victor, perhaps prepared by the author himself. In 1579, Andrea Schott published the Aurelii Victoris historiae abbreviatae or Liber de Caesaribus; at the end of the 19th c., after three centuries of lively debate, the conclusion was reached—and is still maintained today—that the work is anonymous and that Aurelius Victor should simply be considered one of its sources (in particular for the first eleven chapters), as is testified by the reference to his name in the titulus reported by the manuscripts. For this reason, the name Epitome de Caesaribus (a title that is in any event modern and dating to the 18th c.) should be considered improper. This is not a summary of the Liber de Caesaribus (on the contrary, it constitutes an amplification of this work in a few places), but is rather a genuine breviary (or libellus breviatus) drawn from a multiplicity of sources, which are for the most part of a good quality. With the obvious exception of Aurelius Victor, scholars have debated these sources fiercely; possible candidates include the enigmatic Kaisergeschichte postulated by Enmann, Marius Maximus, the Annales of Nicomachus Flavianus, and Eutropius. The work comprises forty-eight chapters, which cover the years between the battle of Actium (Sept. 31 BC) and the death of Theodosius (Jan. AD 395). These are arranged according to Suetonius’ biographical schema in the first thirty-one chapters (from Augustus to Carus), and according to an historiographical account that is continuous throughout the last ten (from Diocletian to Theodosius). A concluding chapter is dedicated to this final emperor (Ch. 48), which—to judge from its breadth and heavily encomiastic tone—seems to be inspired by the panegyrics given by Themistius, Pacatus, and Symmachus. If a reliance on Symmachus and, as has been argued, Nicomachus Flavianus is correct, then there would be credit to the hypothesis that the Epitome was composed within the entourage of the younger Nicomachus Flavianus, son of the homonymous historiographer and son-in-law of Symmachus, at a date probably not later than AD 402, the year of Symmachus’ death, in order to perpetuate his memory, but also to furnish for the young emperor Honorius (and to his regent Stilico) a breviary through which to study Roman history by contemplating the heroic deeds of his predecessors; unsurprisingly, the Epitome is full of praise for the emperor-generals, and for Trajan in particular. At a moment of profound internal and external crisis for the empire, therefore, the Epitome presents itself as a work written for pedagogical purposes, taking a Romanocentric approach that is full of praise for both the senate and paganism, which is capable of inviting one to combat the severe dangers of the present through the examples of a luminous past. [G. Vanotti; tr. C. L. Caterine].