Anonyme latin, Traité de Physiognomonie, Texte établi, traduit et commenté par Jaques André, Paris 1981 (Collection des Universités de France).
The treatise, anonymous and unfinished, is one of the few extant sources on the art that was practiced in antiquity of deducing the character and behaviors of an individual from his physical traits. It can be dated to the second half of the 4th c., and few things can be said about its author: he was probably a pagan and did not know Greek very well, because he makes a few mistakes in quoting his sources (André). The work is a compilation of three works of Greek physiognomy, as the anonymous author declares at the start of his writing: ex tribus auctoribus quorum libros prae manu habui, Loxi medici, Aristotelis philosophi, Polemonis declamatoris, qui de physiognomonia scripserunt, ea elegi quae ad primam institutionem huius rei pertinent et quae facilius intelligantur. Loxus, a Greek doctor of highly uncertain date, is known to us, apart from the notices furnished by our anonymous Latin author, only from a single reference in Origen. A treatise attributed to Aristotle did come down to us, which is in fact an epitome of two different manuals produced by the peripatetic school, and that constitutes for us the first systematic treatment of the material. The work of the rhetorician Antonius Polemon is lost. Composed between AD 133 and 136, it constitutes the chief source of the Latin treatise. There do survive of it, however, a late Arabic translation and a Greek epitome, the latter of which was compiled by Adamantius in the 4th c. AD. Frequently cited by ancient authors, we know that Polemon was born at Laodicea, studied rhetoric at Smyrna, and was then on friendly terms with the emperor Hadrian. A few letters of Fronto inform us that he declaimed at Rome in 143. The anonymous Latin author says that he will offer a sort of introduction to the material, together with the more basic ideas (ad primam institutionem… quae facilius intellegantur), and is always very forthright in attributing to his sources what belongs to each: he informs us that Loxus maintained that blood was the seat of the soul and that the physical characteristics of individuals depended on its greater or lesser fluidity, while the other two authors thought that the interaction between the soul and the body was based on a relationship of συμπάθεια. The treatise distinguishes male signs (characterized by force, strength, and magnanimity) from female signs (indicating cunning, jealousy, weakness), independent of the sex of the carrier of these signa (par. 10), and proceeds for the most part in the arrangement a capite ad calcem [from head to toe], with interest turned most of all to the traits of the face (par. 12-73). A few paragraphs are dedicated to the movements, to breathing, to the voice, and to color (par. 74-80). The zoological system is attached to the anatomical, based on the similarity of men to different types of animals, whose character they would reproduce (par. 118-32). A few hints are made towards the ethnological system, which establishes a relationship between the physical characteristics of an individual and the defects or qualities of the population to which he belongs. The treatise breaks off at the moment when the author is also about to report some possibilities about the prediction of the future that, according to Loxus and Polemon, are obtained through physiognomy (par. 133). Two codices of the 12th c. (Leodiensis 77 and Berolinensis q. 198) transmit the work without the name of its author, while a few later codices indicate that it is a translation of one or another of its sources. The attribution of the work to Apuleius, which had some success, goes back to V. Rose. [R. Tabacco; tr. C. L. Caterine].