The disappearance of the imperial biographies written by Marius Maximus is one of the more frustrating losses of Latin literature, for various reasons: the well-known testimony of Ammianus, the interest (and frivolity) of Marius Maximus' attested contribution to the Historia Augusta, his importance, much in dispute, to the writer of that work, the lack of information on much of the period he covered, and, not least, the fascinating role assigned to him by modern scholars, remodelling a previous duality of sources, of bad biographer in contrast to the good Ignotus. It has recently become common practice for the evidence of Ausonius' (so-called) Caesares to be used in the search for this biographer. The suggestion goes back to a dissertation of F. della Corte in 1956/7, and was taken up in his edition of Ausonius' works by Pastorino, and discussed in the following year by Cazzaniga who, though uncertain about the dependence of Ausonius on Marius Maximus, does misleadingly assert (perhaps echoing Momigliano) ‘e certo che l'ultima epigramma tocca Elagabalo, che chiude la silloge’. More recently, della Corte has returned to the question and sketched a possible model for the growth of the whole extant collection of Ausonius' Caesares, on the basis of the manuscript tradition. The same volume contains a contribution to the question by S. d'Elia and includes, by a felicitous piece of editing, an extended footnote in which d'Elia is able to comment on the relevant part of della Corte's paper.
Meanwhile, outside Italy, there have been parallel and independent developments.
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