Eutrope, Abrégé d'histoire romaine, texte établi et traduit par Joseph Hellegouarc'h, Paris, 1999 (Collection des Universités de France)
The work was composed after 369, since the title of Gothicus is used in the dedication to Valente, a title which the emperor acquired after the victory against the Goths of Athanaric. In the brief preface, Eutropius explicitly says that he has written a brief summary in chronological order of the whole of the history of Rome on request of the Emperor. The Breuiarium is neatly divided into ten books, the first six devoted to the monarchic and Republican periods until Caesar’s death, the last four to the imperial age from Augustus to Jovian. The part dedicated to the early history of Rome basically has an annalistic structure and consists of a list of wars and generals, which leaves little room for the evaluation of the events and their description. The story is then gradually organized around some emerging characters and important events (the Scipios, the Mithridatic wars, Pompeus’ and Caesar’s deeds, the civil wars, Caesar’s death) until it takes on a biographical style in the books on the imperial age: for each new princeps essential information is provided about his family background, place of birth and age when he seized power, virtues and vices, military and civil deeds, time, place and manner of death, burial and deification.
The attention in following a chronological order shows the progressive increase of the Roman dominance, presented in a clearly positive way as guided by a sense of justice and generosity towards the defeated enemies.
The room devoted to bad emperors is systematically lower than that devoted to good emperors: a judgment about how each of them was able to administer the empire and the evolution, or more often involution, of their behavior over the years of reign never lacks and indicates a general alignment with the Senate’s perspective. Sometimes the judgment is particularly broad and detailed, as in the case of Constantius and the emperors of the same period. One of the most significant aspects of Eutropius’ work is the frequent use of the category of civilitas to assess the behavior of principes: the notion of civilitas indicates the attitude of the princeps who doesn't misuse his power with cruel and oppressive measures, but treats upper-class men as equals, as a citizen of bygone days.
Certainly Livius, or a livian compendium, is the main source for the events of the Republican period; as for the imperial era, the main source is Suetonius, possibly integrated with a series of imperial biographies that did not reached us; for contemporary events Eutropius often refers to personal experiences, as he explicitly says about the Parthian campaign of Julian: cui expeditioni ego quoque interfui (10, 16, 1). [R. Tabacco; trad. M. Formentelli]