C. Iulii Victoris Ars rhetorica, ediderunt Remo Giomini et Maria Silvana Celentano, Leipzig 1980
The text of Julius Victor’s Ars rhetorica is based on a single codex, a 12th c. manuscript discovered in the Vatican Library (Ottobonianus latinus 1968, ff. 12v-32r) by Angelo Mai, who published its first edition at Rome (1823, with subsequent reprintings).
The work presents itself as an historical overview of oratorical forms. For the most part, it tends to reproduce its sources (Cicero and esp. Quintilian), a fact that makes it extremely useful for textual reconstruction and as evidence for the diffusion of those authors in Julius Victor’s day. It is nevertheless possible to find an original element in its tendency to recommend as models not only the great traditional auctores, but also writers who were Julius Victor’s contemporaries. Most of the latter men are virtually or entirely unknown to us, such as a certain Marcomannus, who was probably German.
The final chapters are particularly interesting; these treat - respectively - the importance of continual exercise for those who wish to improve their eloquence (de exercitatione), the proper employment of language in common use (de sermocinatione), and the correct way to compose letters (de epistolis). The pragmatic advice offered in these chapters constitute an interesting historical document of the cultural reality of the 4th c., inasmuch as they demonstrate how these topics were already the most common rhetorical activities; in this sense, together with the insertion of such insights by Julius Victor, the manual appears to be well adapted to its period of composition.
Most noteworthy is the section de epistolis, which - despite being extremely brief and rather disorganized - represents the only extant treatment of letter-writing in an ancient manual of rhetoric. [A. Borgna; tr. C. L. Caterine].