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Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus, c. 480–c. 524 CE  

Samuel James Beeching Barnish

The Ostrogothic king *Theoderic (1) appointed this leading nobleman consul (510), and *magister officiorum (?522). He resisted official oppression, was implicated in a senatorial conspiracy, imprisoned, and executed. His De consolatione philosophiae is a prison dialogue with Philosophy, a *Menippean mixture of prose and verse, owing much to *Martianus Capella and *Augustine. It justifies providence on a Stoic and Neoplatonic basis (see stoicism; neoplatonism), without overt *Christianity; its reconciliation of free will and divine prescience is philosophically notable; it shows high literary genius, and an astounding memory for classical texts under trying conditions. Boethius' Greek scholarship was rare in Italy; he planned introductions and translations for the mathematical and logical disciplines, and complete translations of *Plato (1) and *Aristotle. The project was never completed, and much is lost or fragmentary. Survivors: De arithmetica and Institutio musica (on which see below); a commentary on *Cicero's Topics, translations and commentaries for *Porphyry's Isagoge, and Aristotle's Prior Analytics, Categories, and Perihermeneias; translations of Aristotle's Topics and Sophistici elenchi.


Cassiodorus, Roman magistrate, author of political and religious works, c. 485–c. 580 CE  

M. Shane Bjornlie

Cassiodorus was a prominent participant in the political, intellectual, and religious life of 6th-century ce Italy, and a learned scholar of the classical and Christian traditions. As a member of the administration of the Gothic government under Theoderic and his successors, he advanced through what may be considered the late-Roman cursus honorum. He was also witness to the dramatic political and religious debates of the day, including volatile interactions between the royal court at Ravenna, the Senate at Rome, and the emperor in Constantinople. Justinian’s Gothic War in Italy effectively ended his political career, after which he first became an exile in Constantinople, and then the founder of a school for Christian learning (Vivarium) on his ancestral estates in southern Italy. The literary works that he produced span the spectrum of his personal experiences and attest to the intellectual and cultural range of people living during the 6th century: panegyrics, a chronicle, ethnography, letters, treatises on reading, grammars, Christian exegesis, and ecclesiastical history.


Diomedes (3), grammarian, late 4th or early 5th cent. CE  

John F. Moreland

Grammarian, who wrote an Ars grammatica in three books (ed. Keil, Gramm. Lat. 1. 299–529). His work is of value because, though he rarely mentions his sources, he clearly relied upon earlier grammarians who discussed and illustrated the usages of republican authors. Parallels between his work and that of *Charisius seem to indicate that he borrowed from the latter.


Dracontius, Blossius Aemilius  

Helen Kaufmann

Blossius Aemilius Dracontius was one of the most remarkable Latin poets in Vandal North Africa. He lived in Carthage around 500 ce, and combined poetry with a career in law. His major Christian work De laudibus dei (‘Praises of God’) combines biblical narrative with exegesis, doctrine, and autobiography. He also wrote a ‘Plea’ (Satisfactio) to the Vandal king Gunthamund, who had imprisoned him, as well as four short mythological epics (on Hylas, Helen, Medea, and Orestes respectively), two epithalamia, two prefaces, three rhetorical pieces, two epigrams, and two now lost panegyrics. Dracontius’ work stands out for its originality in combining sources, for its creative use of literary forms and rhetoric, and for its character descriptions.Blossius Aemilius Dracontius lived in Carthage around 500ce. Only one event in his life, his imprisonment under Gunthamund, can be dated approximately: the Vandal king ruled from 484 to 496.1 Dracontius’ tripartite name, as well as inscriptional evidence for a (different) Dracontius and further Blossii in North Africa, suggests a North African Roman origin; the title .


Felix, Flavius, Latin poet  

Antony Spawforth

Felix, Flavius, Latin poet of senatorial rank. His verses, often unclassical in quantity, include a poem on baths built by Thrasamond, *Vandal king in Africa ( 496–523ce).



Antony Spawforth

British author of The Ruin and Conquest of Britain (De excidio et conquestu Britanniae), a moralizing work attacking the local leaders held responsible for *Britain's troubles following the Roman withdrawal and the coming of the *Saxons. Apart from his *Christianity, very little is known about the author, and the date of composition is controversial, most scholars placing it c.


Iulius Valerius Alexander Polemius  

Stephen J. Harrison

Iulius Valerius Alexander Polemius, author in the mid-4th cent. ce of an extant Latin version of the Greek Alexander Romance of *Pseudo-Callisthenes. Its style shows some colourful and archaic features, imitating earlier poets and Apuleius.


Luxorius, of Carthage  

J. H. D. Scourfield

Luxorius or Luxurius, author of some 90 short poems, in various metres and on various subjects, which afford an insight into the Vandal society of North Africa in which they were written. His identification with an obscure grammarian, Lisorius, is a matter of doubt. In inspiration his poems owe most to the epigrams of *Martial.


Martianus Minneus Felix Capella  

Danuta Shanzer

Composed in Vandalic *Carthage (see Vandals), probably in the last quarter of the 5th cent. ce, a prosimetrical Latin encyclopaedia of the seven Liberal Arts (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric—the medieval ‘trivium’—and the ‘quadrivium’, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music; see education, Greek, §§ 3 and 4). He subsequently composed a short metrical treatise. Both works were addressed to his son. The encyclopaedia, usually known as the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, but called the Philologia by its author, comprises a two-book introductory myth describing the ascent to heaven, apotheosis, and marriage of Philology to *Mercury, as well as a seven-book introduction to the Liberal Arts, in which each subject is presented by an elaborately described female personification. The encyclopaedic books are pedestrian compilations, mostly from Latin sources, such as *Aquila Romanus, *Geminus, *Pliny(1) the Elder, *Quintilian, and *Iulius Solinus; whether Varro's lost Disciplinarum libri were also used is still debated.


Palladius (1), Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus  

M. Stephen Spurr

Palladius (1), Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus, author of the only surviving agricultural treatise from late antiquity (c. mid-5th cent. ce: the date is disputed) in 15 books: book 1 contains 32 wide-ranging short topics; books 2–13 outline the year's work by month; book 14 treats veterinary matters, book 15 (in elegiacs) grafting. Palladius owned properties in Italy near Rome, 3. 25. 20) and Sardinia (4. 10. 16) and possibly Gaul (cf. the detailed description of a Gallic reaping machine, 7. 2. 2–4). His practical experience (cf. 2. 2. 1; 4. 10. 24) ensured a critical approach to his main sources *Columella and *Gargilius Martialis (cf. 1. 28. 5, 4. 10. 16). The purposefully plain prose style (cf. 1. 1. 1) and absence of discussion of slaves (except for 1. 6. 18) suggest that he was writing instructions for a workforce of free tenants—against a background of agricultural recession (cf. 3. 18. 6; 7. 1).


Pentadius, 3rd or 4th cent. CE  

J. H. D. Scourfield

Pentadius (3rd or 4th cent. ce), author of elegiac poems in ‘echoic’ or ‘serpentine’ verse (where the opening words of each hexameter are repeated as the second half of the following pentameter) on fortune, spring, and *Narcissus (1), and (less certainly) of a number of short epigrams.


Phocas, grammarian, 5th cent. CE  

John F. Moreland and R. H. Robins

Author of an Ars de nomine et verbo (ed. Keil, Gramm. Lat. 5. 410–39) and a Vita Vergilii in hexameters (often published, e.g. in Baehrens, PLM 5. 85). A De aspiratione attributed to him (ed. Keil, Gramm. Lat. 5. 439–41) is apocryphal.


Pompeius, African grammarian, late 5th–early 6th cent. CE  

R. A. Kaster

Pompeius (late 5th–early 6th cent. ce), African grammarian, commented on *Donatus (1)'s ars (GL 5. 95–312), perhaps also on *Virgil and *Terence (very uncertain).


Priscian, 5th–6th cent. CE  

Thomas J. Keeline

Priscian was the most important Latin grammarian of late antiquity. Probably hailing from North Africa, he worked as a professor of Latin in Constantinople in the early 6th century. There he published his masterpiece, the eighteen-volume Ars grammatica (before 527), which blended the traditional Roman textbook treatment of grammar (books 1–16, containing basic definitions and and an extensive treatment of parts of speech) with Alexandrian Greek scholarship (books 17–18, on syntax). The Ars grammatica revolutionized the theoretical basis of Latin grammar and would prove widely influential on subsequent study.Priscian also composed various smaller works. At some point before the Ars grammatica, he wrote short treatises: De figuris numerorum quos antiquissimi habent codices, De metris fabularum Terentii et aliorum comicorum, and Praeexercitamina (a Latin version of the Greek Progymnasmata ascribed to Hermogenes). After he had written the Ars grammatica, he also composed a summary of Latin morphology, Institutio de nomine, pronomine, et uerbo, as well as a lengthy discussion of the first line of each book of the Aeneid, Partitiones xii uersuum Aeneidos principalium.


Proba, Faltonia Betitia  

Sigrid Schottenius Cullhed

Faltonia Betitia Proba (fl. late 4th century) was a Roman poet, writer of a Christian cento (Lat. for patchwork), which circulated in the Eastern and Western Empire toward the end of the 4th century. The work consists of 694 verses culled from Virgil’s Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid, narrating episodes from Genesis, Exodus, and the four Gospels. The narrative sections are interspersed with proems, interludes, and epilogues pervaded by a confessional and devotional theme. The declared intention of the poet is to relate the “mysteries of Virgil” (arcana . . . vatis, v.12) and to show that Virgil “sang about the pious feats of Christ” (Vergilium cecinisse . . . pia munera Christi v. 23). This makes Proba one of the first Roman poets to have actively appropriated Virgil as a Christian prophet.There are over a hundred manuscripts containing Proba’s cento, the oldest of which date back to the 8th century, and a large number of early modern editions. Thanks to Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris (1374), Proba became important in the querelle des femmes as an example of an educated woman.


Prudentius Clemens, Aurelius, 348–after 405 CE  

Cillian O'Hogan

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Christian Latin poet who wrote in a variety of genres and metres. Born in northern Spain, in 348ce, he had a career in public administration before retiring to write poetry. His major works include the Liber Cathemerinon (poems keyed to the liturgy and religious calendar), Psychomachia (an allegorical epic on the battle between Virtues and Vices for the human soul), and the Liber Peristephanon (lyric poems in praise of the early martyrs of the church). Prudentius was particularly influenced by the works of Virgil and Horace, and aimed in his poetry to combine the form and language of classical Latin poetry with the message of Christianity. The most important Christian Latin poet of late antiquity, Prudentius was extremely influential throughout the Middle Ages.Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405ce) was the most important and influential Christian Latin poet of late antiquity. Called by Richard Bentley the ‘.


Rufinus (3), grammarian, 5th century CE  

Rolando Ferri

Rufinus is known only for a work transmitted by the manuscripts as A commentary on the metres of Terence (Commentarium in metra Terentiana), which includes a section clearly taken from a different treatise and reconstructed with the title On the composition and rhythms of the orators (De compositione et de numeris oratorum). In the two sections, Rufinus uses different styles of address, identifying himself as u. d. (uir deuotus, ‘a devout man’) in the former work and as u. c. (uir clarissimus, ‘a right honourable man’) in the latter, perhaps as a result of an intervening change in his status. The incipit also gives Rufinus the adjective Antiochensis, ‘of Antiochia’, thus identifying him as a Latin teacher active in the Greek East.1 The inclusion of Servius among his authorities provides a terminus post at the end of the 4th century, while the presence of Rufinus as a source in Priscian places him no later than the 5th century.


Vegetius Renatus  

Michael B. Charles

Vegetius Renatus was a Latin author writing in the Late Empire. He wrote the Epitoma rei militaris, which deals with ways to improve Rome’s flagging military prowess—including revival of the antiqua legio (“old-fashioned legion”) and reduction of reliance on barbarian mercenaries—and the Digesta artis mulomedicinae, which deals with animal husbandry and the care of horses in particular. Vegetius appears to have been a Christian and likely occupied a senior post in the Roman imperial bureaucracy. It is uncertain when Vegetius was active. Vegetius dedicated the Epitoma to an unnamed emperor. Traditionally, this has been assumed to have been Theodosius I (reign, 379–395 ce) because of presumably later manuscript dedications, but the context of the text arguably suits a fifth-century date better (especially one after 425 ce). Valentinian III (425–455 ce) or Theodosius II (408–450 ce) have emerged as the most likely candidates. Given that a certain Eutropius amended the manuscript of the Epitoma in 450 ce, it is clear that Vegetius must have written before that year.


Vibius Sequester  

David Paniagua

Vibius Sequester is the author of the De fluminibus, fontibus, lacubus, nemoribus, paludibus, montibus, gentibus per litteras, a short repertoire of geographical names mentioned by Virgil, Silius, Lucan and Ovid. The text, written at the end of the 4th or in the 5th century ce for the author’s son, Vergilianus, was likely intended to be used at school as an instrument providing basic information about the collected toponyms and ethnonyms. Despite the occasional mistakes in the text, Sequester’s repertoire represent a fine instance of school culture in Western Late Antiquity. The work was much appreciated by Italian humanists, which explains that it was copied in nearly 50 recentiores manuscripts; all of them, however, descend from a second-half of the 9th century manuscript (Vat. Lat. 4929).Vibius Sequester was the author of a short alphabetic repertoire of geographical names mentioned in Latin poetry, probably compiled at the end of the 4th or in the 5th century .