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The victims of Rufinus

  • T. D. Barnes (a1)

Claudian's poem In Rufinum is a historical epic with at least two unusual features: the first book contains many of the standard elements of a formal invective, and the two books were composed and recited some eighteen months apart, since Book One celebrates the death of Rufinus on 27 November 395 as a very recent event (i, pr. 15 ff.), while the preface to Book Two refers explicitly to Stilicho's expedition to Greece in 397. The interval in composition is matched by a gap in content: Book One treats Rufinus' career down to 393, with some forward references to 395, explicitly marked as such (especially lines 321/2: Hunnorum laturus opem, quos adfore bello norat), while the narrative of Book Two begins from the death of Theodosius on 17 January 395 (ii. 1 ff.) and ends with the lynching of Rufinus on 27 November 395. Claudian thus omits any account of Rufinus' activities during the campaign of Theodosius against Eugenius in 394 and the emperor's last months in Italy. Claudian's careful chronological ordering of his material is deliberate, but since it has been obscured in recent discussions of the In Rufinum, it needs to be reinstated.

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1 On the genre and structure of the poem, see especially Levy H. L., TAPA 77 (1946), 57 ff.; Barr W., Papers of the Liverpool Latin Seminar, Second Volume (ARCA 3, 1979), 179 ff.; on the dates of composition, Cameron A., Claudian. Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (Oxford, 1970), 76ff.

2 For these two dates, Chr. min. i. 245; Socrates , HE v. 26. 4; vi. 1. 1; vi. 1. 8.

3 For detailed comments, Levy H. L., Claudian's In Rufinum. An Exegetical Commentary (APA, Philological Monographs 30 [1971]), 52 ff.

4 Seeck O., RE iA (1920), 1190 f. The allusions detected by Levy in his commentary on lines 181/2 and 234–6 to the massacre at Thessalonica in 390 and to CTh ix. 40. 13 (18 August 390; cf.PLRE i. 348) are not convincing.

5 Birt T., MGH, Auct. Ant. 10 (1892), 27, prints caesi, which is attested by one manuscript. Since Tatianus was not killed, but exiled, that cannot be correct. The reading of most of the manuscripts should be retained: pignora caesa is a generalising plural referring to the killing of Proculus, which receives a separate development in lines 245–9.

6 PLRE i. 876–878. Tatianus was still in office in early September 392 (CJ xi. 25. 2 Seeck), but Rufinus has replaced him by the 10th of the month (CTh viii. 6. 2; ix. 28. 1).

7 ‘Versus suspectus’, according to Birt in his apparatus, since it interrupts the context and pointlessly echoes 225: effera praetumido quatiebat corda furore. The preface, however, asserts that the line is ‘vix adulterinus’ (cv). In favour of deletion, see Gnilka C., Studien zur Literatur der Spätantike (Antiquitas 1. 23, 1975), 84. With line 243 removed, the passage recovers perfect sense and perfect point: neither the heat of the Dog-star nor the cold of Thrace held Rufinus back, lest anyone escape execution, lest he waste an evil deed through an imperial pardon. For this use of ne, in the sense of‘through fear that’, see Svennung J., Untersuchungen zu Palladius und zur lateinischen Fach-und Volkssprache (Uppsala, 1935), 515.

8 Levy H. L., The Invective In Rufinum of Claudius Claudianus (Geneva, N.Y., 1935), 21 n. 133; Cameron (n. 1), 64 ff.; Barr (n. 1), 181 f; Döpp S., Zeitgeschichte in Dichtungen Claudians (Hermes, Einzelschriften 43, 1980), 86 n. 3, 92.

9 PLRE i. 516, s.v. Lucianus 6. The entry appears to exhibit compilers' variants; cf. The Sources of the Historia Augusta (Collection Latomus 155, 1978), 122 n. 40.

10 Seeck O., Die Briefe des Libanius (Texte und Untersuchungen 30, 1906), 259, 447; Rh. Mus., N.F. 73 (19201924), 95f.

11 PLRE i. 746/7.

12 Cameron (n. 1), 80.

13 Cameron (n. 1), 84, followed by Döpp (n. 8), 92. Barr (n. 1), 182, denies that lines 239–42 can refer to Lucianus on the grounds that ‘they would be the only reference in Book 1 to an event following the death of Theodosius’, and he paradoxically asserts that the lines do not allude to any specific person or incident at all.

14 The qualification is important, for the expedition of Stilicho against the Bastarnae, to which Claudian alludes in the section on Rufinus' deeds in war (310 ff.), appears to belong to 392: see, recently, Simpson C. J., Latomus 34 (1975), 221 ff.

15 I am much indebted to Michael Reeve, as both editor and colleague, for advice during the composition of the present article.

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The Classical Quarterly
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