XII Panegyrici Latini, recognouit D. Lassandro, Augustae Taurinorum 1992 (Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum Parauianum).
In 1433 a code was discovered by John Aurispa in the library of the cathedral of Mainz containing the oration by Pliny to Trajan followed by eleven official speeches presented in the inscriptio as panegyrici, with the exception of gratiarum actio by Claudius Mamertinus to Julian. The term panegyricus, however, does not appear in the texts. In the late Latin period (cf. Sidonius Apollinaris, Epist. VIII, 10, 3: Gaius Plinius [...] Marco Vlpio incomparabili principi comparabile panegyricum dixit) the term panegyricus loses the original meaning of speech in front of a universal assembly, to take on that of laudatio, i.e. a praising speech which crystallizes "in the scheme of a tribute specifically addressed to the Prince (βασιλικός λόγος), which has come to us in the arrangement made by the Greek rhetorician Menander in the third century AD (Gr. III Rhet. pp. 368-77, ed. Spengel), who relied on the previous tradition of the genre"(Giardina-Silvestrini, 1989, p. 596, my translation).
The corpus of panegyrics was passed on to us, in whole or in part, by more than fifty manuscripts of humanistic age - probably apographs of the Mainz code which was destroyed in a fire, among which the most important copy is kept in the British Library (Harleianus 2480) - and a palimpsest of the Ambrosiana Library in Milan where Angelo Mai recognized, under the Acta Synodi Chalcedonensis, various texts written in semioncial writing in the sixth century, including Pliny’s oration (Lassandro 1998, p. 483). The anthology, which alongside the Plinian text also includes eleven praising speeches addressed by several rhetoricians of Gallic origins to Augusts and Caesars between the 289 and the 389, was probably created by Latinus Pacatus Drepanius, author of the panegyric to Theodosius in 389 (Lassandro 1998, p. 477; Lassandro 2000, p. 10; Camastra 2012, p. 122). The order in which the various speeches are arranged in the manuscripts is not chronological: the inspiring model is the Plinian text, which comes first, followed, starting from the most recent, by the aforementioned panegyric by Pacatus Drepanius (Rome, 389), the one by Claudius Mamertinus to Julian (Constantinople, 362) and the one by Nazarius in honor of Constantine (Rome, 321). Moreover, eight other shorter speeches, some of which anonymous, are included, which were all given in Gaul by local rhetoricians. A rhetorician of Trier, Mamertinus, is the author of two panegyrics to Maximian of 289 and 291, positioned as tenth and eleventh in the manuscripts. Two speeches (the eighth and the ninth one) are dedicated to Constantius Chlorus between 297 and 298; the eighth one is anonymous, while the ninth one is by a rhetorician of Autun, Eumenius, and is the only one that was not delivered before the Princeps, but in front of the governor of the province of Lyon. Finally, there are four anonymous speeches dedicated to Constantine: the seventh one dated 307, the sixth one dated 310, the fifth one dated 312, and the twelfth one dated 313.
Members of the entourage of the Princeps, the panegyrists, "that belonged to the state bureaucracy and the political leadership of the Roman Empire (they were usually teachers and/or officers), became not only supporters of the policy of the emperor, but also active promoters of consent " (Lassandro 2000, p. 14, my translation; cf. Lassandro 1998, p. 479; Camastra 2012, p. 123) outlining with oratorical skills modelled on the classics, the figure of the Optimus Princeps. Principes are the depositories of virtues, as opposed to their opponents, who embody all sorts of vices. Effective representation are the images of Constantine and Maxentius (in the panegyrics dated 313 and 321), which show a clear contrast between good and evil at various levels: birth, physical appearance, moral virtues, the relationship with the gods (Lassandro 1998, p. 480; Lassandro 2000, p. 17 s.). Remarkable is the figure of Maximian, initially considered Optimus Princeps and praised like Constantine, who, after the rebellion of his son-in-law and fall out of favour with subsequent death by suicide, "undergoes an ideal process of demonization and is presented as the prototype of man cursed by the gods" (Lassandro 1998, p. 480, my translation).
The superiority and invincibility of the Emperor manifest themselves not only against political opponents, but also in the supremacy over barbarians, which ensures security and prosperity to the Roman cities such as Trier and Autun, located along the Germanic limes. Through Panegyrici we grasp the complex relationship between Roman cities and the nationes barbarorum in border regions. On the one hand, a judgment of condemnation and contempt emerges for these cruel, barbaric and devastating people - characterized by feritas, ferocia, furor, uesania, rabies, perfidia – against which the emperor qualifies as insurmountable bulwark, even though the insistence on the immanitas and multitudo of these people hints at the fear of the cities located on the border, despite the ostentatious confidence in the military virtues of the princeps. On the other hand, signs of integration can also be seen in the settlements of cultores barbarians in the Roman territory" (Lassandro 1998, p. 482, my translation). The contrast between Romans and barbarians parallels the traditional one between the East and the West, "between the world of traditional Roman uirtus and that of deliciae Orientis [...] a separation between a world, the eastern world, characterized by the absence of military values and the choice of a soft and refined life, and the western reality, marked by great military skills, spirit of sacrifice, austere sense of the family and so on" (Lassandro 2000, p. 34 s., my translation). Even though "the primary value of Panegyrici is rhetorical and ideological" and the representation of events is distorted by the lens of adulation, they are not without historical significance, all the more so as "they often are the only sources available of important events that took place between the third and fourth centuries" (1998 Lassandro , p. 479, my translation). The testimonies on rebellio Bagaudica are an example.
The prose of Panegyrici, rich in exempla, commemorative periphrasis, rhetorical ornaments, and an extensive use of amplificatio and comparatio, is widely studied and reveals the educated origin of the authors, careful also in creating metrics clauses; in fact, the genre of panegyric "will soon evolve into metrical form itself, as in the poetic panegyrics by Claudian" (Camastra 2012, p. 122, my translation; cf. Von Albrecht 1996, p III. 1460). Here is the schema of the twelve panegyrics included in the reference edition, with the double numeration maintained in the digitization of texts: the numbers outside the parentheses indicate the transmitted order, while the numbers in brackets refer to the chronological order.
I (I) C. Plinii Caecilii Secundi Panegyricus dictus Traiano imperatori (Romae a. 100 p. Chr)
X (II) Mamertini Panegyricus dictus Maximiano et Diocletiano (Treueris a. 289 p. Chr.)
XI (III) Eiusdem magistri Mamertini Genethliacus Maximiani Augusti (Treueris ? a. 291 p. Chr.)
IX (IV) Eumenii pro instaurandis scholis oratio (Augustoduni a. 297/8 p. Chr.)
VIII (V) Incerti Panegyricus dictus Constantio Caesari (Treueris ? a. 297/8 p. Chr.)
VII (VI) Incerti Panegyricus dictus Maximiano et Constantino (Treueris ? a. 307 p. Chr.)
VI (VII) Incerti Panegyricus dictus Constantino imperatori (Treueris a. 310 p. Chr.)
V (VIII) Incerti Gratiarum actio Constantino imperatori (Treueris a. 312 p. Chr.)
XII (IX) Incerti Panegyricus dictus Constantino filio Constantii (Treueris a. 313 p. Chr.)
IV (X) Nazarii Panegyricus dictus Constantino imperatori (Romae a. 321 p. Chr)
III (XI) Claudii Mamertini Gratiarum actio de consulatu suo Iuliano imperatori (Constantinopoli a. 362 p. Chr.)
II (XII) Latini Pacati Drepanii Panegyricus dictus Theodosio imperatori (Romae a. 389 p. Chr.)
[S. Musso; trad. M. Formentelli]