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The Poet Nemesianus and the Historia Augusta

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2022

Justin Stover*
University of Edinburgh
George Woudhuysen*
University of Nottingham
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Lurking in the Historia Augusta's life of the short-lived Emperor Carus is what appears to be a reference to the genuine contemporary poet Nemesianus and an extant work by him, the Cynegetica. Given the HA's predilection for ‘bogus authors’, this is rather surprising, but because some of what the HA says about Nemesianus is true, the otherwise unique details of his life and works that it provides have been generally accepted. We show first that the reference to the Cynegetica is an incorporated gloss in the text of the HA, one that reveals that the text was being read and studied in northern Francia. We then demonstrate that the name ‘Olympius’, which the HA gives to Nemesianus, is not authentic, offering an analysis of the text's onomastic habits more generally. We show that ‘Olympius Nemesianus’ is one of several invented authors in the HA, lent a superficial plausibility by borrowing the name of a real ancient writer. Finally, we reflect on the way that these conclusions might undermine two developing tendencies in the study of the Historia Augusta.

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The Historia Augusta (HA) is richly stocked with bogus authors.Footnote 1 It abounds with fraudulent compositions by invented writers, on whom it intermittently offers commentary, with a pose of critical sophistication. Many of these shadowy figures serve an obvious role as putative sources for the alleged scriptores: the ephemeris of that ‘most noble and truthful man’ Turdulus Gallicanus, indispensable for writing about the emperor Probus, springs to mind (Probus 2.2). Others seem simply to reflect the glee that the work's true author took in invention (not that the two goals were mutually exclusive). These imagined writers are a particularly marked feature of the latter parts of the HA, while by no means confined to them.Footnote 2 Given all this, it comes as something of a surprise to find apparent mention of a genuine author and an authentic work in their correct historical context at almost the very end of the HA. In the text's account of the short-lived emperor Numerian (r. 283–284), son of Carus (r. 282–3) and brother of Carinus (r. 283–5), the author digresses on the boy-prince's poetic abilities (the text is Hohl's):

versu autem talis fuisse praedicatur [sc. Numerianus], ut omnes poetas sui temporis vicerit. Nam et cum Olympio Nemesiano contendit, qui ἁλιευτικὰ κυνηγετικὰ et ναυτικὰ scripsit qui[n]que omnibus coloribus inlustratus emicuit, et Aurelium Apollinarem ‹i›amborum scriptorem, qui patris eius gesta in litteras ret‹t›ulit, [h]isdem, qu‹a›e recitaverat, editis veluti radio solis obtexit (Carus 11.2).Footnote 3

He is said, however, to have been so talented at verse that he bested all the poets of his age; for he competed with Olympius Nemesianus, who wrote Halieutica, Cynegetica, and Nautica, and who was brilliantly illustrious on account of all his style. When he published what he had recited, like a ray of sun he overshadowed Aurelius Apollinaris, the iambic poet who had described the deeds of his father in writing.

Aurelius Apollinaris, the iambic poet cum historian of the emperor Carus, is a fairly obvious fiction.Footnote 4 Nemesianus, however, really was a poet active in the joint reign of Carinus and Numerian. While the Halieutica and Nautica look like inventions of the HA, a Cynegetica by Nemesianus survives (alongside four Eclogues) and contains a miniature panegyric of the brother emperors (ll. 63–85).Footnote 5

On the strength of this coincidence, most scholars have been prepared to accept that the HA offers a modicum of truth here. Even Sir Ronald Syme, most arch of the HA sceptics, concluded that ‘nothing that the HA relates about authors and writings subsequent to Marius Maximus deserves credit, except for the reference to the poems of Nemesianus of Carthage’.Footnote 6 François Paschoud, doyen of recent HA Forschung, echoes this judgement in the notes to his edition of the Vita Cari: ‘Némésien est l'un des rares écrivains réels mentionnés dans les biographies de la seconde moitié de l’HA’.Footnote 7 So too the author of the most recent English monograph on the HA, David Rohrbacher: ‘the poet Nemesianus is the only person mentioned by name in the entire Life of Carus, Carinus, and Numerian (with the exception of the emperors themselves) who is not fictional’.Footnote 8 At first sight, the HA's recollection of Nemesianus is one of those awkwardly verifiable facts that keeps the work, even at its most extravagant, somewhere in the borderland between history and fiction.

That appearance is, however, deceptive. To understand what is really going on here, we need to look first at the text of this passage in the HA and then at the name — Olympius — with which it furnishes Nemesianus. What we will discover is far more interesting than a tale of the chance transmission of true information. The reference to the Cynegetica is not authentic to the text of the vita Cari and the poet Nemesianus did not have the name Olympius. What we have here is a combination of the HA's predilection for inventing bogus scriptores vaguely modelled after real authors, and of honest medieval scholarship floundering in the face of the work's addiction to bafflement.


For some 500 years, every edition of the Historia Augusta has printed ἁλιευτικὰ, κυνηγετικὰ, ναυτικὰ in this passage, three Greek words in Greek characters. It might, then, come as a slight surprise to students of the text that the most important manuscript of the HA, Vat. Pal. lat. 899 (P), produced in the ninth century and of uncertain origin, does not transmit all three in Greek letters.Footnote 9 Instead it offers a strange hybrid (f. 214v):

nam &cum olympionemesiano contendit quialieutica ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA &nautica scripsit

This peculiar inconsistency is also found in all the manuscripts of the HA derived from P, including Bamberg Msc. Class. 54 (B) (f. 207r) and Paris lat. 5816 (L) (f. 109v).Footnote 10 On this evidence, printing these three words in Greek might seem like a logical editorial decision, since all three are Greek words and one of them is written in Greek characters. Yet the reason why every edition since the early sixteenth century does indeed print them in Greek is not sound editorial practice — P, after all, was not widely known for more than a century after the first printed edition had been produced — but rather sheer textual inertia.

The editio princeps of the HA, which was published at Milan in 1475, did not print any of the words in Greek (or leave them blank to be filled in by hand).Footnote 11 Instead, it offered a (clumsy) Latin transliteration (sig. S8r):

nam & cum Olympio Nemesiano contendit: qui in halienitica cynegetica. & nautica. scripsitFootnote 12

Now this is interesting because the sources of the editio princeps are L (or a derivative of it) and an unknown manuscript belonging to a widely dispersed fourteenth-century family known as Σ, which itself is probably ultimately derived from P with extensive contamination and tampering.Footnote 13 The earliest manuscript of that family, Florence Laur. Plut. 20 sin. 6 (D), does not transmit any of the words in Greek (f. 103v):

nam cum Olympio Nemesiano contendit: qui Alyeutika hynegetica et nautica scripsitFootnote 14

For this reason, it seems very likely that the source for the Latin transliteration of the cynegetica in the ed. pr. is its (unidentified) Σ source. The second edition of the HA was printed at Venice in 1489: as has recently been demonstrated, it is extremely valuable because it is based on the ed. pr. and a separate tradition of the text, independent of P and transmitting authentic information.Footnote 15 Unfortunately, for this passage, it merely reproduces the reading from the ed. pr., including the gross error in halienitica (sig. M6r).

The next edition, printed roughly 500 years ago, was (unlike its two predecessors) prepared by a respected humanist scholar with a critical eye for philological matters, Johannes Baptista Egnatius, and issued from the venerable house of Manutius in Venice in 1516. The basis for his text was the earlier Venetian edition of 1489, but Egnatius also had occasional recourse to yet another Σ manuscript, which was housed in the Marciana in Venice.Footnote 16 More to the point, however, Egnatius was an adventurous editor, never hesitant to make radical changes to the transmitted text, where sense, order, or style demanded it.Footnote 17 For example, he separated the lives of Caesars and usurpers from the main sequence of Augusti and printed them after the rest of the text, to make the first part read more like a normal imperial history, treating just the emperors in sequence.

For our purposes, however, the most relevant of Egnatius’ interventions are on a rather smaller scale. In the life of Alexander Severus, the HA explicitly quotes the Greek of a proverb it has given in Latin (18.5, in Hohl's text):

idem addebat sententiam de furibus notam et Gr<a>ece quidem, quae Latine hoc significat: ‘qui multa rapuerit, pauca suffragatoribus dederit, salvus erit’, quae Graece talis est Ὁ πολλὰ κλέψας ὀλίγα δοὺς ἐκφεύξε[ν]ται.

He was in the habit of using a well-known bon-mot on thieves, indeed one in Greek, which means this in Latin: ‘if he who has stolen a lot gives a little to his advocates, he will be acquitted’, which in Greek is as follows: ‘He who has stolen a lot and given a little will be acquitted’.

P did not transmit the Greek in Greek characters, but instead offered a curious Latin transliteration opolla clepsas oliga dus ecfeuxente (f. 107r). The first two printed editions just left a blank space where the Greek should be. This was not good enough for Egnatius, but his manuscript probably offered him no aid.Footnote 18 Instead, he boldly inserted his own translation: ὅστις ἄν πολλὰ κεκλόπημεν [sic] ὀλίγα δὲ τοῖς βοηθοῦσιν ἔδωκεν σῶος ἔσται (sig. q4r, f. 124r).Footnote 19 Hence it should come as no surprise that when Egnatius came to Carus 11.2, he chose with no manuscript authority to print all three titles in Greek (sig. 2g5v):

nam & cum Olympio Nemesiano contendit, qui ἁλιευτικὰ κυνηγετικὰ & ναυτικὰ scripsit

Every edition since, down to the Budé published by Paschoud in 2002, has followed suit. Hence, we arrive at the present paradoxical state of affairs: every edition prints κυνηγετικὰ not because P transmits ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA, but rather because of the bold liberties Egnatius took five centuries ago with his text.

As a result, no one has ever thought to question why P reads ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA. It is, in every respect, anomalous. The word stands out on the page: it is written in much larger letters than the surrounding Latin characters and the letter-forms are awkward and laboured. And no wonder, for they are, in fact, the only Greek characters written in the whole manuscript. In every other instance where the HA offers Greek, P transmits a Latin transliteration, as in the passage of Alexander Severus discussed above, or at Pertinax 13.5, where it offers the awkward christologum (f. 49v).Footnote 20 By chance, this passage survives in one of the few fragments from the other ninth-century manuscript of the HA written at Murbach (M), preserved in a list of collations included in the 1518 Froben edition of the text published at Basel: it has instead the (misspelled) χρησόλογος.Footnote 21 In addition, according to Froben, the Greek of the saying in the life of Alexander discussed above was found in M.Footnote 22 P's treatment of Greek is also generally anomalous. It is not uncommon for individual Greek words to be written in Latin characters by medieval scribes and indeed, in many cases, such transliteration may go back to the original author.Footnote 23 Writing out a whole line in Latin transliteration is, however, much less common and usually restricted to texts which were meant to be publicly recited in a liturgical, monastic, or pedagogical context. Extant examples include prayers like the Pater noster and Greek creeds.Footnote 24 These transliterations almost invariably reflect contemporary pronunciation of Greek.Footnote 25 We have, however, a few manuscripts which contain Greek passages with an interlinear Latin transliteration.Footnote 26 Sometimes these are individual words, such as in Adomnán's life of St Columba in London, British Library Add. 35110 (s. xii), f. 97r, where an original πhpicthra is transliterated above syllable by syllable as pe ris te ra, or in Jerome's commentary on Ecclesiastes in Montecassino MS 284, p. 355, where προcωποποιeiαν is transliterated as pros apo pogeian.Footnote 27 Slightly longer passages of transliterated Greek can be found in Cologne, Dombibliothek Cod. 58, a ninth-century copy of Jerome's commentaries on Paul from Lorsch, on for example, f. 9v, which has aποτουευ kai του δοκεiν, with the slightly comic misinterpretation apo tu eu castu dochin written above.Footnote 28 Another manuscript of Jerome, the commentary on Daniel, Sankt Gallen 120 (780–820) has frequent transliteration of Greek words.Footnote 29 So too do the remaining folios of a ninth Murbach manuscript containing his commentary on Isaiah.Footnote 30 Paris lat. 10910 (Fredegar), of the early eighth century, features a striking drawing of Eusebius and Jerome (with attendant goose) on f. 23v. There is a Latin caption written in Greek letters underneath them, which a ninth-century hand has transcribed.Footnote 31 An alternation between writing in Greek characters and transliterating to Latin is also found in a glossary (which shows an interest in late ancient historical texts) which is plausibly associated with Saint-Denis and its abbot Hilduin (814–43).Footnote 32 In all these cases too, there are hints of roughly contemporary pronunciation, Greek and Latin.Footnote 33 This may tell us something about the Historia Augusta. Three of our ninth-century witnesses – P, Π, and M – are derived from the same archetype. The natural explanation of their divergence is that that archetype offered Greek text for the (surprisingly few) points where the HA transmits Greek, with a Latin transliteration above the line. The conscientious scribe of M copied out the Greek, where the slightly hastier copyist of P generally offered the Latin.

What we have here, then, are three independent anomalies. One is the fact that the HA, in an utterly uncharacteristic fashion for one of the later lives, appears to transmit genuine literary lore in saying that Nemesianus wrote a Cynegetica. The second is that P puts this work's title into Greek characters, while transmitting the titles of the other two (invented) works in Latin letters. The third is that everywhere else P uses Latin transliteration for Greek, even for extended quotation, in a manner that is essentially unparalleled for the genre. Any one of these individually could be explained away through special pleading, but their conjunction exceeds the limits of credibility. One hypothesis, however, could explain all three: what if ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA is an incorporated gloss?

Nemesianus’ Cynegetica is a rare text, but we have hints that it was not quite so rare in the early ninth century.Footnote 34 In the course of a lengthy denunciation of his homonymous nephew, the bishop of Laon, Hincmar, archbishop of Reims from 845 to 882, tells us that he had read the work as a schoolboy:

… aliter respondere non potui, nisi, ut venatores ferae lustra sequentes agere auditu et lectione puer scolarius in libro, qui inscribitur Kynegeticon, Cartaginensis Aurelii didici, hac illaque discurrendo, retrograda etiam vestigia repetendo anfractus tuos vestigando explicare studerem.Footnote 35

… I could not otherwise answer, except that I should hasten to unravel your circumlocutions by running about, also seeking out your backwards-hastening footsteps, and investigating them, as hunters do when seeking the lairs of wild beasts, which I learnt from listening and reading when a schoolboy in the book which is entitled Cynegeticon, written by Aurelius of Carthage.

A few lines later, he goes on to quote the poem's opening:

… et etiam cum tuam novam subscriptionem, quin potius tuam novam praesumptionem adiens, mille vias tristesque labores / discursusque citos, securi prelia ruris et sincero corde lites domesticas subire compellar.Footnote 36

… and since I am even compelled, approaching your new subscription, or I should say your new presumption, to undergo with a pure heart personal quarrels: ‘their thousand ways and mournful toil; their swift running hither and thither, and the battles of the untroubled countryside’.

Hincmar of Reims is one of the Carolingian authors about whose life we know enough to understand exactly what he is saying in this reminiscence: he had read the Cynegetica during his education at Saint-Denis in Paris in the 810s, or perhaps even the early 820s, studying under Hilduin.Footnote 37 Somewhat disappointingly, the extant ninth-century manuscript of the Cynegetica (written in northern France, probably at Saint-Denis itself), Paris lat. 7561, does not transmit the name of the work in Greek characters (p. 18):

finit. m. aurelii nemesiani kartaginiensis cynegeticonFootnote 38

The rest of the slim manuscript tradition follows suit.Footnote 39 If, however, we take a closer look at Hincmar, we find him referring to the text in a garbled combination of Greek and Latin letters, at least according to the manuscript of his Against Hincmar of Laon produced at Reims during his lifetime (Paris lat. 2865, f. 115r), KYNEGETICON.Footnote 40 Evidently, the text of Nemesianus that Hincmar had read did have a title in Greek, or at the least, in his school-days there was a fashion for referring to it in Greek. This was rather a concession to Hellenism on his part, since elsewhere in the same work he fulminated against his namesake:

Although there are sufficient and adequate Latin words, which you could have put in those places, where instead you have put Greek and obscure ones, now and then even Irish and other barbarous, as you fancied, bastardised and corrupt things.Footnote 41

It is a striking fact that the only two ninth-century mentions of Nemesianus’ work outside the actual manuscript that transmits it spell the title KYN-. Chronologically speaking, Hincmar's halcyon schooldays take us awfully close to the period in which P itself was copied, probably sometime between 825 and 830.Footnote 42

In this context, it seems probable that in P's archetype somebody inserted the Greek word ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA in the margin next to Nemesianus’ name, because they recognised the name of the poet. Greek writing was popular in medieval scholia: a Venn diagram of pedants who enjoyed putting their rudimentary Greek skills on display and people who wrote glosses would have a very substantial overlap.Footnote 43 This would have produced a mise-en-page something like thisFootnote 44:

P's copyist blithely incorporated the gloss in the text — as indeed he was wont to do on any number of other occasions.Footnote 45 Indeed, in one case on the culinary predilections of Aelius (pernam at Ael. 5.4), we have good evidence that P and M incorporated an interlinear gloss at two different places in the line.Footnote 46 In another, discussing the literary output of the Emperor Trajan, P transmits nam et de suis dilectis multa versibus composuit amatoria carmina scripsit. (Hadr. 15.9). Casaubon judiciously deleted amatoria carmina scripsit as an incorporated gloss. In the same passage, Π transmits amatoria carmina versibus composuit (f. 142v, shamefully not recorded in any edition since Gruter). The most reasonable interpretation of this passage is that amatoria carmina was an interlinear gloss on de suis dilectis, which displaced the original in Π and was incorporated into P with the addition of scripsit for sense. If ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA were a gloss like these, it would not have been equipped with the usual transliteration above the line, and the scribe would have had actually to copy the characters as he saw them, hence why this is the sole word in Greek characters found in P.Footnote 47

From a conventional standpoint, this is a somewhat perverse suggestion: the normal process of editing seeks to purge errors that have crept into the text over the centuries of its transmission, not remove truths. The nature of the HA, however, forces a reversal: because the text, particularly in its later lives, is so determinedly fictive, we ought to be very suspicious of that in it which seems to be true, especially with regard to literary matters. The ‘truth’ of the HA is generally falsehood and invention and what is true in the usual sense of the term is normally error in the HA. What, indeed, are the chances that, of the literally dozens of invented authors and facts about literary history in the later lives, just one happens to be true? Given that we know Nemesianus was being read in one school, at least, and indeed recalled fondly by a former schoolboy, around the time that P was being copied, it seems far more likely that a Carolingian reader was telling the truth, and that the HA was engaged in its customary obfuscation. At any rate, the fact that the title is written in Greek characters in P, against its otherwise universal practice, demands some explanation, and one that respects what we know of ninth-century scribal habit.

If this hypothesis is true, it gives us a tantalising hint about the much-discussed question of the Schriftheimat of P, and where the archetype of the HA was preserved. The old idea that P was written in Italy has recently been discredited: indeed, the fact that its two siblings, M and Π, are both northern (the former written at Murbach, the latter at Lorsch) makes it virtually impossible that P was copied from the same archetype close to the same time in Italy.Footnote 48 Perhaps instead we ought to look for the sort of centre which had the tradition of Greek study that might have inspired transliteration, and one in which Nemesianus’ Cynegetica was used in schools. In other words, Saint-Denis itself, or a place closely associated with it.


The one obviously authentic detail about Nemesianus provided by the HA may very well be an interpolation. That has considerable implications for its other claims for him. Despite occasional attempts to identify the Halieutica and Nautica with extant Latin poems, it should now be even clearer that they are pure inventions, designed to pad the résumé of the poet.Footnote 49 The name ‘Olympius’ has, however, achieved broader acceptance. It was enshrined in the second edition of the Prosopographia Imperii Romani and in The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire.Footnote 50 Similarly, both Syme and Paschoud were inclined to accept it.Footnote 51 From these authoritative sources, ‘Olympius’ has bled into other more general works of reference and is now comfortably accommodated in the broader scholarly literature – not a bad career for a datum from one of antiquity's least reliable informants.Footnote 52 Clearly, it requires more systematic treatment.

In the late third and fourth centuries a.d., the onomastic landscape of the Roman world had changed radically from that of the early empire.Footnote 53 Individuals were generally referred to by a single name — invariably their last if they had more than one — which scholarship has come to call the ‘diacritic’. Trawling through the letters of Symmachus, for example, illustrates quite how ubiquitous this system of reference had become in even the stuffiest of circles.Footnote 54 In official usage, e.g. consular dates in papyri, the diacritic was often supplemented by one more name, always placed before it.Footnote 55 Depending on the bearer's background and the context, this additional name might indicate descent — usually a gentilicium, but sometimes also a cognomen that had come to play a similar role — or status: Flavius, the nomen of the emperor Constantine, is the obvious example.Footnote 56 Much more rarely, in elevated literary or epigraphic contexts, we find individuals with four, five, or even more names, generally gentilicia but occasionally even praenomina as well, something that hints that the ‘diacritic system’ conceals the full richness of late ancient onomastics.

The manuscripts of the Cynegetica call the poet M(arcus) Aurelius Nemesianus.Footnote 57 That was clearly true also of the text Hincmar had read, since he refers to him as Aurelii.Footnote 58 The archetype of those manuscripts of the Eclogues which attribute the poems correctly seem to have called their author Aurelianus Nemesianus, Aurelianus an easy slip from Aurelius by dittography.Footnote 59 There is nothing in the rich tradition of Nemesianus’ work — direct or indirect — that suggests he had any other names but these.Footnote 60 Moreover, the names transmitted by the manuscripts of Nemesianus are entirely compatible with what we know otherwise of late antique onomastics and obviously authentic. Nemesianus — a cognomen derived from the Greek names Nemesis or Nemesios — is a rare but attested diacritic in the Latin-speaking regions of the Roman world.Footnote 61 Given the poet's association with Carthage, it is perhaps particularly interesting that the bishop of Thubunae in Numidia in the time of St Cyprian was one Nemesianus.Footnote 62 He was still being commemorated as a martyr in the middle of the fourth century and is mentioned (indeed quoted) by St Augustine.Footnote 63 The gentilicium ‘Aurelius’, sometimes with its attendant praenomen ‘M(arcus)’, was extremely common in the later Roman empire, including in Africa.Footnote 64 That was because it had been widely taken by those whom the constitutio Antoniniana of a.d. 212 had enfranchised, to commemorate their benefactor, the emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla).Footnote 65 Generally, though of course not in every individual instance, the Aurelii were the ordinary inhabitants of the Roman Empire, the broad mass of the population who had not achieved Roman citizenship before the early third century.Footnote 66 It is likely that (say) Nemesianus’ grandfather was one of those suddenly elevated in status by Caracalla. This would make the poet, with his aristocratic interest in the chase and his transparently sophisticated literary culture, an interesting example of the rise of these ‘new Romans’ and their descendants to positions of power and privilege.

There is no particular reason to sully this coherent picture on the testimony of the HA alone. Given that it is a text famous for its made-up names, the economical solution is that this too has simply been invented. To instead accept that Nemesianus had the name ‘Olympius’, there are two routes that we could take, neither of which has much to recommend it. One option, canvassed occasionally in the early modern period, is that it was a genuine additional family name of Nemesianus.Footnote 67 There are two major reasons to reject this. First, it is difficult to understand how it would have been omitted from an archetype that was formal enough to include the poet's praenomen (a rare item indeed by Late Antiquity).Footnote 68 Second, in Late Antiquity Olympius was a common diacritic, but only very rarely used as an additional (familial) name, perhaps precisely because it was so common and thus not usefully distinctive.Footnote 69 It seems unwise to accept something that is inherently unlikely because the HA claims it. The alternative explanation of Olympius, superficially more plausible and adopted by both PIR 2 and PLRE I, is to treat it as a signum.Footnote 70 Signa were nicknames (a category sometimes referred to as supernomina), ending in -ius, used fairly widely in the third and fourth centuries, generally in high-status and literary contexts.Footnote 71 They could replace the diacritic: hence the writer called Firmianus, generally known to us by his signum Lactantius. They could also be combined with it as a dual name, and the order signum + diacritic is attested.Footnote 72 While sometimes ubiquitous, they were often used only occasionally: L. Aurelius Avianius Symmachus, father of the famous orator, had the signum ‘Phosphorius’, but though he is unusually well attested, the nickname is known to us only from a single inscription.Footnote 73 The rather slippery nature of signa is perhaps why the idea of ‘Olympius’ Nemesianus has seemed plausible. To see why it should be rejected, we must briefly consider the way that the HA used names.

The HA is justly famous for its fraudulent inventiveness when it comes to onomastics, but focus on this has perhaps led to a neglect of the more prosaic but important subject of the way that it uses names.Footnote 74 This is not the place for a comprehensive investigation: this would be a major work in itself, and one complicated by the fact that so many of the individuals named are invented. Nevertheless, a few important onomastic habits of the HA can usefully be picked out, seen most clearly when set against what was otherwise standard practice. Most Latin historians of the fourth century referred to the vast majority of individuals by a single name, their diacritic. They particularly avoided referring to figures of the third and fourth centuries by more than one name, though they were slightly looser with those of earlier periods, perhaps because polyonomy had an antique flavour. They were especially parsimonious with the (to them) traditional combination of gentilicium and cognomen, usual in the works of Tacitus or the letters of Pliny (for example).Footnote 75 In the Res Gestae, more than 90 per cent of the men named by Ammianus are given only a single name: of the remainder, a considerable proportion are figures of Roman antiquity, whose (usually) dual names were hallowed by long usage.Footnote 76 Amongst actors in the narrative, the majority of those referred to by two names receive a diacritic and a nickname.Footnote 77 Only a handful are identified by gentilicium and cognomen, and Ammianus had a partiality (perhaps rhythmical) for reversing their usual order.Footnote 78 Ammianus was an idiosyncratic author, but in his use of names he was remarkably ordinary. Festus shows a very similar pattern in his account of the Roman Empire's dealings with the Parthians and Persians (Breviarium 19–29). He names 33 individuals: only six of these (18 per cent), none later than the early third century, have more than one name and only two of those are referred to by a gentilicium and cognomen.Footnote 79 There is a similar pattern in the tenth book of Eutropius’ breviarium, which covers 305–364. There are twenty-seven named individuals in the book. Of these, only three (11 per cent) have more than one name, only one of those is contemporary with the events described, and only one (much earlier) individual is given a gentilicium.Footnote 80

These were not habits that had suddenly emerged in the middle of the fourth century and thus likely to be avoided by any conscientious forger seeking to pretend their work was written in the era of Diocletian and Constantine. Our largest corpora of secular Latin prose from that period are to be found in the Mathesis of Firmicus Maternus and the nine contemporary speeches of the Panegyrici Latini.Footnote 81 Firmicus mentions some forty-five historical individuals in the course of his lengthy astrological treatise.Footnote 82 Of these, only two are referred to by more than one name: Germanicus appears as Julius Caesar and Cicero is called Marcus Tullius.Footnote 83 Firmicus always refers to contemporaries by a single name, even when he varies which of their names he chooses: his patron, for example, is either Mavortius (his signum) or Lollianus (his diacritic), but never both together.Footnote 84 The Panegyrici name some forty individuals from Roman history.Footnote 85 Of these, a mere five (12.5 per cent) receive more than one name: none of those five is later than the first century b.c. and only two of them are given a gentilicium.Footnote 86 We are not exactly over-endowed with Latin historiography from this period, but we do have Lactantius’ On the Deaths of the Persecutors (c. 315). Lactantius was interested in names, sensitive (for instance) to the fact that Diocletian had changed his (9.11). Yet, while he names some thirty-nine individuals in his narrative, only two (5 per cent) can really be said to receive more than one name: Tiberius Caesar (2.1, the praenomen is written out in full in the only manuscript) and Maximianus qui est dictus Herculius (8.1). Lactantius even curtly refers to Tarquinius Superbus as ‘Superbus’ (28.4). Clearly, the diacritic system was already well established for Latin authors of the late third and early fourth centuries.

In contrast to all this, the HA delighted in multiple names and especially in fathering them on (putatively) contemporary figures. In the Quadriga Tyrannorum, for example, it names some fifty-seven individuals. This is one of the shorter lives (c. 2,300 words) and gives some flavour of the sheer number of named individuals that the text flings at its readers (contrast Lactantius’ sparseness in the c. 11,000 words of the DMP). Of these, twelve (21 per cent) have more than one name.Footnote 87 The majority of those (eight) are made out to be contemporary with the author or with the events narrated: they are mostly putative sources or informants.Footnote 88 Most (nine) of those referred to by more than one name have a gentilicium. In fact, the HA's author was something of a connoisseur of gentilicia, deploying some very rare ones indeed: Aurunculeius, Larcius, Masticius, Verconius.Footnote 89 All this suggests that when confronted by the need to invent figures, his usual practice was to give them a gentilicium and a cognomen.Footnote 90 This is obvious, for example, from the names of the six scriptores to whom the lives are attributed: Aelius Spartianus, Iulius Capitolinus, Vulcacius Gallicanus, Aelius Lampridius, Trebellius Pollio and Flavius Vopiscus.Footnote 91 So, confronted by the ‘Olympius Nemesianus’, our default assumption ought to be that the name is supposed to mirror the usual pattern of nomen + cognomen, just as the invented Aurelius Apollinaris in the same passage does, than which it is no more authentic. Nothing licenses us to make the rationalising assumption that this just happens to be a disguised signum.

In fact, we can go somewhat further than this. Rather unsurprisingly, the HA had a fondness for nicknames. Yet its author did not generally introduce them to the reader without some flourish (where was the fun in that?). Instead, he tended explicitly to signal that they were nicknames, by using some formula: cognomine, appellatus est, cognominatus, cognomento, etc.Footnote 92 He also delighted in offering (sometimes elaborate) explanations for them. So, we learn that Gordian I was nicknamed ‘Africanus’ not because he was proclaimed emperor in Africa, but because he was descended from the Scipios. The HA's author further informs us that ‘in very many books’ he has found that Gordian and his son were also both nicknamed Antoninus or Antonius.Footnote 93 We get similarly elaborate explanations for why Antoninus was ‘Pius’, why Septimius Severus was nicknamed Pertinax, and why Aurelian mockingly suggested the Senate call him carpisculum, amongst many other instances.Footnote 94

Signa were, of course, a kind of nickname and crucially the HA's author showed exactly the same desire to highlight and explain them as he did for other sorts of supernomina.Footnote 95 In fact, the HA provides one of our very few explicit ancient discussions of how someone gained their signum, in its account of the reign of Commodus:

Menses quoque in honorem eius pro Augusto Commodum, pro Septembri Herculem, pro Octobri Invictum, pro Novembri Exsuperatorium, pro Decembri Amazonium ex signo ipsius adulatores vocabant. Amazonius autem vocatus est ex amore concubinae suae Marciae, quam pictam in Amazone diligebat, propter quam et ipse Amazonico habitu in harenam Romanam procedere voluit.Footnote 96

His flatterers even renamed the months in his honour: ‘Commodus’ for August, ‘Hercules’ for September, ‘Invictus’ for October, ‘Exsuperatorius’ for November, ‘Amazonius’ for December, from his signum. He was called Amazonius, moreover, due to his love of his concubine Marcia, whom he delighted to see painted as an Amazon and on whose behalf he himself wanted to enter the arena at Rome in the dress of an Amazon.

The HA's author did not understand signum narrowly to be a nickname in -ius (as we would generally define it today).Footnote 97 He refers, for instance, to the emperor Aurelian as receiving in his army days the signum of manu ad ferrum to distinguish him from another tribune, also called Aurelian.Footnote 98 He also says that ‘Antoninus’ was the verum signum of the emperor Antoninus Pius, by which he must mean his ‘real name’.Footnote 99 Yet the passage shows very clearly that what we would call a signum was not something to be introduced without some fanfare. The (very few) possible signa in the HA are all either brought up in discussions of nicknames, or explicitly marked as such.Footnote 100 So, we are told that Lucius Verus had on his staff an actor called Agrippus, cui cognomentum erat Memfi, informed that Clodius Albinus was nicknamed Porfyrius by his nurse because he was swaddled in purple, and introduced to Aurelius Victor, cui Pinio cognomen erat.Footnote 101 In other words, were the HA trying to lumber Nemesianus with the signum Olympius, everything about its practice elsewhere suggests that it would tell us that was what it was doing, not leave us to work it out. We can conclude, with considerable confidence, that the HA's ‘Olympius Nemesianus’ is not actually meant to be a genuine reference to M. Aurelius Nemesianus. Perhaps the name was just a weak pun, inspired by that more famous competition at Olympia, on the idea of Numerian's poetic contests? In any case, if Olympius is not actually part of the historical Nemesianus’ name, there is even more reason to suppose that ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA is an interloper in the text.


There is one final piece to this onomastic puzzle. Anyone who consults PLRE I or PIR 2 will be told that Nemesianus is referred to as Olympius in the ancient scholia to Statius’ Thebaid. At first sight, this seems powerful supporting evidence for the HA, one reason (perhaps) why scholars have generally taken the text at its word. In fact, however, this is a remarkable example of the durability of misguided early modern ideas. The scholia do not refer to Nemesianus by name. In a comment on Thebaid 5.388–9, they quote a poet called Olympius:

Ab iunctis ergo ὑφ’ ἕν noli accipere. operta autem pinus pellibus, ut mos est. abiunctis quidam ὑφ’ ἕν legunt: divisis. Sic in Olympio: ‘abiungere luna iunices’.Footnote 102

From the connected [ab iunctis]: do not understand this as a single word. The pine covered also with skins, as is the custom. Some read unyoked [abiunctis]: meaning divided. Olympius uses it so: ‘to unyoke the young cows from the moon’.Footnote 103

There is absolutely no reason to associate this half-line with Nemesianus: it does not appear in his poetry, does not relate to themes that he discussed, and is not attributed to him by the text. It is the work of some unknown poet called Olympius, which was (as we have seen) a common enough name. Similarly, in a comment on Thebaid 2.58, the scholia cite a poet called Olympus:

Mediaeque s(ilentia) l(unae) philosophi lunam terram ‹aetheriam› esse dicunt, quae circa nostrum hoc solum circulo altiore suspensa est. Haec autem omnia corpora maiora gignit, utpote quae vicina sit caelo. Poetae denique omnes asserunt leonem de his polis ortum, quem Hercules prostravit, ut etiam Olympus ait.

The silence of the middle moon the philosophers say that the moon is a ‹heavenly› body, which has been hung up on a loftier orbit around this our earth.Footnote 104 This moreover gives birth to all the greater bodies, namely those which are next to the sky. All the poets allege that the lion, which Hercules defeated, sprang from these heavens, as also Olympus says.

Once again, the origin of the Nemean lion is not a subject mentioned by Nemesianus, is not obviously relevant to the themes of his poetry, and is not here ascribed to him, or indeed even to ‘Olympius’. Modern editors generally insert an i into the name Olympus, but there is no particular reason so to do. While seemingly not so common as Olympius in Late Antiquity, Olympus is a very well-attested name in its own right.Footnote 105 Given that these are two references in the same set of scholia, both seemingly related to heavenly bodies, it might make sense to assume that they are references to the same poet, but there is no particular reason to favour Olympius over Olympus as the name of this presumably late antique author.Footnote 106

To understand why these two references have become part of the story of Nemesianus, we have to turn to the first volume of Johann Christian Wernsdorf's Poetae Latini Minores, published at Altenburg in 1780.Footnote 107 This was principally taken up with the Cynegetica of Grattius and Nemesianus, extensively annotated, but also offered a selection of other works with a field-sports theme, and some short essays on points raised by them. Among the testimonia for Nemesianus, Wernsdorf printed the scholion to Statius, Thebaid 5.389.Footnote 108 His reasoning, as he explained, was that no other poet called Olympius was known from antiquity. He also silently assimilated the Olympus of the scholia to this composite figure: the source of the emendation in modern editions.Footnote 109 The identification of Olympius as Nemesianus, while obviously weakly grounded, is not so surprising in an era before Dessau, when the HA was still mostly taken to be more or less what it claimed.Footnote 110 Wernsdorf, however, had a more daring aim than simply to ascribe another fragment to Nemesianus. In a substantial preface, he proceeded to argue on the basis of the scholia that Nemesianus was also the author of the Laus Herculis (LH), a late antique poem attributed to Claudian in the only surviving manuscript (of the eighth century).Footnote 111 The Laus Herculis, Wernsdorf suggested, was really a panegyric of the emperor Maximian, colleague of Diocletian, who was closely associated with Hercules.Footnote 112 As he explained, when he first noted the scholion about the Nemean lion, he began to hunt for parallels. This led him to the Laus Herculis, which says that the Cretan Bull came from the moon. He acknowledged that this was not the same thing, but suggested that the scholiast wished to include Olympius as the poet who in particular had treated the labours of Hercules.Footnote 113 Hence Olympius was the author of the Laus Herculis. That Olympius and Nemesianus were one and the same he deduced from some stylistic parallels between the Cynegetica and the Laus Herculis.Footnote 114 From there he attempted to squeeze some biographical details from the LH, which he suggested were entirely compatible with what we know of Nemesianus.Footnote 115

This is an argument of considerable ingenuity and is made with gusto, but it is also plainly wrong. Leave to one side the question of the HA's reliability, and ignore the silent assimilation of Olympius and Olympus: Wernsdorf's theory is simply incompatible with the text of the scholion on Thebaid 2.58, the whole point of which is that Olympus had said that the Nemean lion came from the moon, something the LH conspicuously does not mention.Footnote 116 There is, moreover, nothing remotely like the quotation in the scholion on 5.388–9 to be found in the Laus Herculis, so one has to posit that the scholiast had access to a different lost poem by Olympius, on a similar astronomical theme. The stylistic parallels invoked by Wernsdorf are barely worthy of the name: one of them is that both poets claim inspiration from the Castalian Spring.Footnote 117 As Volpilhac also pointed out in the 1970s when there was an attempt to revive the theory, the author of the LH takes some liberties with quantities which are unthinkable in Nemesianus and difficult to imagine even in the considerably later Claudian.Footnote 118 For these reasons (and others, no doubt), Wernsdorf's theory appears to have been very largely ignored by scholars of the Laus Herculis.Footnote 119 They tend to locate the poem at some point after Claudian in the fifth or perhaps sixth century, without much certainty as to the precise date.Footnote 120 Yet, in spite of this, for some reason the idea that the scholia to Statius relate to Nemesianus has stumbled on.Footnote 121 It is past time that it was put to rest.


Hence, there is nothing that we can learn about our Nemesianus from the HA. Instead, the evidence suggests that the activity of the poet M. Aurelius Nemesianus in the time of Carus and his sons inspired the author of the HA to fabricate a Doppelgänger, Olympius Nemesianus. And this is hardly surprising: Nemesianus was an author widely read in Late Antiquity.Footnote 122 A complete survey of his reception would be a major task in itself, but a few examples can give a sense of his popularity.Footnote 123 In his account of Carus and his sons (written c. 360), the historian Aurelius Victor describes how the father was made Augustus and Carinus and Numerian were ‘clothed in the raiment of emperors (augusto habitu)’.Footnote 124 This rather awkward periphrasis is almost without parallel in Latin. Almost, because the one other place it occurs is in Nemesianus (Cyn. 80–1), who fancies that he can already see the ‘imperial raiment’ (augustos habitus) of the brothers. The rarity of phrasing and the context strongly suggest that Victor was consciously alluding to Nemesianus here. A few decades later, Ausonius quoted Cynegetica 268 in his Gratiarum actio (14.65).Footnote 125 Further allusions to the same work can be found in the poet Avienius, in Claudian and in Dracontius.Footnote 126 The Eclogues were also popular: known to the authors of the Carmen contra Paganos and the Einsiedeln Eclogues.Footnote 127 A line from one of them was even used in a Christian epitaph from Rome, of the fourth or fifth century.Footnote 128

There was a fair chance that any educated reader who came across the alleged poetic rivals of the emperor Numerian would feel a flicker of recognition at the name Nemesianus. Perhaps that was the point. The HA is crowded with ‘bogus’ authors, but when they are put under the microscope, they often transpire to have a ‘fake but accurate’ feel to them. The works cited or the names given are slightly wrong, but at least some of the core details, most often the rough date, are plausible. We can even sort the bogus authors into two general categories. In the first, we might put those who are indeed real authors, but to whom the HA attributes fake works. Examples include Gargilius Martialis, who may well have lived at the time of Alexander Severus, but actually wrote on horticulture; and Phlegon of Tralles who was a freedman of Hadrian and did write historical works, but whom the HA claims (almost certainly falsely) transmitted the letter of Hadrian that it reproduces.Footnote 129 In the second category, we might put bogus authors whose names are redolent of actual literary figures, but themselves invented: the historian Onesimus, for example, is very close to the name of the sophist Onasimus; and the Aurelius Victor, cui Pinio cognomen erat, mentioned above shares the first two names with the actual historian Aurelius Victor (since the chronological conceit means that he cannot actually refer to Victor, who was probably born c. 310–20). A particularly striking example is Suetonius Optatianus, a supposed writer of (later) imperial biographies, whose first name is shared with the famous biographer, and whose second (coincidentally or not) is shared with a Constantinian poet Porfirius Optatianus.Footnote 130 Even sceptical scholars have been tempted to put Olympius Nemesianus in the first category — an actual author with fake works fathered on him — but since ‘Olympius Nemesianus’ cannot actually be the name of M. Aurelius Nemesianus, perhaps this instance might actually be better assigned to the second. The fact that Nemesianus was a real author with a known context was used to mint a new poet, who did not write on the terrestrial matters of husbandry and hunting, but on the maritime pastimes of sailing and fishing.

These made-up references to real authors and bogus authors fabricated on the model of genuine ones were the result not simply of a delight in pure invention, but rather of the need to lend a wash of authority to what the HA claimed about the history it described.Footnote 131 That ought to make us take a closer look at some of the outwardly more respectable authors cited by the HA – Marius Maximus, for example, or Florus.Footnote 132 Perhaps the imposture has just been particularly successful in such cases. Students of the HA ought, as always, to be on their guard.


Recent scholarship on the Historia Augusta has tended in two opposite directions. One strand, typified by Rohrbacher's 2016 monograph The Play of Allusion in the Historia Augusta, has emphasised the literary qualities of the collection, even to the point of glossing over its historical fraudulence. Rohrbacher makes the reference to Nemesianus the centrepiece of a sophisticated engagement with the tradition of Latin pastoral in the Carus.Footnote 133 Were this true, it would provide a powerful counterpoint to the arguments we present here, showing that the scriptor definitely had the genuine Nemesianus in mind and expected the same of his readers. First, he adduces one Julius Calpurnius (mentioned earlier in the same life, 8.4) as the author of a letter about the death of Carus.Footnote 134 Following a well-worn, if unacknowledged, early modern track, Rohrbacher associates this figure with the (probably third-century) bucolic poet Calpurnius Siculus.Footnote 135 He then moves to the fact that, much later in the life, Numerian's brother Carinus is described as having a jewelled belt (17.1 balteum … gemmatum in P). Rohrbacher notes that there is also a belt with jewels in Nemesianus’ Cynegetica, used to describe the garb of Diana, gemmatis balteus … nexibus, ‘a girdle with jewelled fastenings’ (Cyn. 92). In concluding, he points out, in very careful terms, that Calpurnius Siculus ‘has the same collocation, “balteus en gemmis”, in his seventh eclogue’.Footnote 136 Were this all true, then the HA would show a deep knowledge of Latin bucolic poetry in general and of Nemesianus’ works in particular, which might be thought to undermine the arguments advanced here. In fact, however, none of Rohrbacher's arguments withstand scrutiny. Leaving to one side the fact that jewels in connection with belts is a rather common idea, there is no parallel between the two belts: Carinus’ is evidently itself set with gems, where the one described by Nemesianus has jewelled clasps.Footnote 137 Indeed, balteus is used in two different senses in the two passages: sword-belt (i.e. ζωστήρ) in the HA and woman's girdle (i.e. ζώνη) in Nemesianus.Footnote 138 The real parallel with Carinus’ belt is found in the HA itself, where the louchest of emperors and a fitting antitype of the wastrel Carinus, Gallienus, is described as ‘using a jewelled belt’ (HA Gallieni duo 14.6: gemmato balteo usus est). Calpurnius’ balteus has even less to do with Carinus’. The reason for Rohrbacher's slight obliquity in phrasing is that Calpurnius’ balteus en gemmis … radiant (7.47–8) has nothing whatsoever to do with clothing: instead, it refers to the aisle of an amphitheatre, probably the Colosseum (i.e. διάζωμα). Hence, there is no connection whatsoever between Calpurnius, Nemesianus and the HA in this phrase. The whole notion that there is some obscure engagement with the bucolic tradition in the life of Carus and his sons depends upon the idea that the bogus Olympius Nemesianus is meant actually to refer to the real bucolic poet M. Aurelius Nemesianus. Take that away — as it must be when the Cynegetica is removed — and there is no reason to even bring pastoral to mind. Students of the HA inclined to find considerable literary subtleties in the work may be themselves victims of a much more basic imposture.

The second tendency in recent HA scholarship is to attribute varying degrees of the text's fraudulence to its Carolingian transmission. Shedd, for example, has recently argued that the six fake authors are not all intrinsic to the HA as composed, but actually the result of medieval tampering, or at least misguided scholarship.Footnote 139 Even more extreme, Baker has attempted a wholesale rehabilitation of the basic reliability of the HA, suggesting that its incoherence as a collection is due to it having been assembled in the Carolingian period.Footnote 140 Neither study can actually provide evidence that the transmission of the HA is not a straightforward case of medieval copying, like that of Suetonius' De vita Caesarum, a work of the same genre, with a parallel structure, and transmitted via the same milieu.Footnote 141 By contrast, the evidence we have adduced here shows that if anything, medieval interventions in the text tried to tame its idiosyncrasies and introduce facts into the farrago of fantasy. Shedd is not wrong to note that the HA as we have it contains ‘unprecedented fictions’, but the genesis of those fictions is to be found in the text itself, whenever and by whomever it was composed, and not in medieval scholarship of the generation before our earliest manuscripts were copied.Footnote 142

This inquiry has brought us, by roundabout paths, to several fairly simple conclusions. (1) The text of Carus 11.2 should be printed cum Olympio Nemesiano contendit, qui Halieutica et Nautica scripsit, with ΚΥΝHΓΕΤΙΚA bracketed or banished to the apparatus and the other two works rendered in Latin characters. (2) M. Aurelius Nemesianus should no longer be saddled with the name Olympius. (3) Olympius Nemesianus should be added to the list of ‘bogus authors’ in the HA. Alongside these, we have come to two more tentative findings which merit further exploration. (1) The onomastic practices of the author of the HA deserve further study: just because the people referred to are fake does not mean that the onomastic practice by which they are named is also. (2) The archetype of the tradition of the HA might have been housed and annotated in the first decade of the ninth century in a place like Saint-Denis, where Nemesianus’ works were studied.


In affectionate memory of Jim Adams, lectissimus pensator verborum (Augustine, De vita beata 4).

We would like to thank Professor Gavin Kelly, whose questions first started us down this track, Professor H. R. Woudhuysen for helpful comments and advice on signatures, Dr Franck Cinato for guidance on glossaries, Dr Myles Lavan for encouragement and advice generously given, and Professor Michael Kulikowski for his careful reading of a draft. We owe gratitude also to the anonymous readers for JRS, for their prompt, searching and helpful suggestions. This is one of a series of studies of later Latin historical texts and their reception; others include: Stover and Woudhuysen 2017; 2015 [2020]; 2021; and 2022. The literature on the Historia Augusta is vast and ever-growing. In what follows, we cite only items that are directly relevant to the arguments of this article. All translations are our own.

1 The term ‘bogus authors’, which has become almost canonical, goes back to Syme Reference Syme1976, the modern starting point for the HA's literary impostures.

2 Syme Reference Syme1976: 315–16; cf. Rohrbacher Reference Rohrbacher2016.

3 On this passage, see Penella Reference Penella1983, a perceptive article. For the relative youth of Numerian, see Eutropius 9.18.2 who calls him an adulescens at the time of his death.

4 Stein suggested (PIR 2 A.1453) that he was inspired by the brothers Aurelius Apollinaris and Aurelius Nemesianus, who plotted the murder of Caracalla (HA Caracalla 6.7 with Dio 79.5.3 for the nomen), a view accepted by e.g. Syme Reference Syme1971: 279 and n. 2; Barnes Reference Barnes1972: 147; and Thomson Reference Thomson2012: 110 (where read ‘Barnes Reference Barnes1972’, for 1978). The argument of Domaszewski Reference Domaszewski1918: 19, that Aurelius Apollinaris was inspired by Sidonius Apollinaris, who did write about the deeds of Carus (Carm. 23.88–96), has been treated with greater contempt than it perhaps deserves. Is it possible that the theme of poetic contest was inspired by something so banal as a pun on Numeri(anus), numeri meaning either poem or metre?

5 Nemesianus’ works were edited by Volpilhac Reference Volpilhac1975 and Williams Reference Williams1986 (with commentary). See also Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014 (an edition of and commentary on the Cynegetica).

6 Syme Reference Syme1971: 279.

7 Paschoud Reference Paschoud2002: 367.

8 Rohrbacher Reference Rohrbacher2016: 40. One might note that Diocletian, Maximian and the praetorian prefect Aper are all also mentioned in the Vita Cari.

9 A digital facsimile can be found online at On the origins of P, see below.

10 Digital facsimiles can be found online at and On the Bamberg manuscript, copied at Fulda in the second quarter of the ninth century, see Bischoff, Katalog I.216. On L, which was annotated by Petrarch, see Malta Reference Malta2014, especially n. 1.

11 Gesamtkatalog M44203; ISTC is00340000, prepared by Bonus Accursius and printed by Philippus de Lavagna in two parts (20 July: Suetonius; 22 December: the Historia Augusta with Eutropius and Paul the Deacon, Historia Romana).

12 The u/n confusion in halienitica suggests that the compositor could not clearly read what was in front of him.

13 On the editio princeps, see Stover Reference Stover2020a: 172–3. The same study adduces evidence for Σ's ultimate descent from P, including misunderstood transposition marks and sutured intratextual lacunae. Valentini Reference Valentini, Manca and Venuti2021 has restated the case for Σ's independence, without responding to these specific examples. The evidence she brings forward, with regard to textual arrangement and individual readings, can be equally explained as contamination from the non-P source, and does not disprove derivation from P. The fact that she brings up an entirely unexceptional case of an archetypal line (47 characters long) omitted in P and supplied in the margin by the corrector (f. 199r) with a tie-mark indicating the proper position after cepit imperium, correctly reinserted by B (f. 193r), as a ‘frutto di trasmissione orizzontale derivante da una collazione con Σ’ (223) does not inspire confidence; there are four other examples on ff. 17r, 44v, 75r, and 107v, all between 41 and 50 characters, not including of course the sauts du même au même on ff. 23v, 79r, 91v, and 196v. See below for two further cases where derivation from P looks most plausible.

14 A digital facsimile can be found online at Incidentally, the Σ reading hynegetica may well offer further evidence for derivation from P itself, since P's first kappa is distinctly H-shaped.

15 See Stover Reference Stover2020a.

16 On Egnatius’ edition, see Hirstein Reference Hirstein, Bonamente, Heim and Callu1998.

17 An admirable instinct in the face of the HA.

18 Most Σ manuscripts leave a blank space.

19 The Greek here is clearly confused, probably the result of an error by the compositor, rather than Egnatius himself. One of the reviewers for JRS proposes that the original read κεκλόπῃ μέν; we are indebted to them for the suggestion.

20 The other instances of Greek in the HA are Alexander Severus 52.2 Ἀναίματον = P f. 107r anematum; Gallieni duo 18.5 διὰ τεσσάρων = P f. 160v diatesseron; Quadriga Tyrannorum 2.1 αὐτοκράτορα = P f. 208r aut/ocratora.

21 On the Murbach manuscript, see now Stover Reference Stover2020b. The other independent ninth-century witness, the excerpts in Pal. lat. 886 (see Dorfbauer Reference Dorfbauer2020), Π, also offers christologus, but does not transmit the passage with the extended Greek quotation at all and breaks off well before the life of Numerian.

22 See sig. 1πr. The whole letter is translated in Stover Reference Stover2020b: 122–3.

23 Pelttari Reference Pelttari2011: 480: ‘late antique Latin authors were more willing to write Greek in Latin characters than has been generally acknowledged’.

24 See Berschin Reference Berschin1988: esp. 21–7. On liturgical use of Greek texts, see Atkinson Reference Atkinson1982.

25 See, for example, Moran Reference Moran2011.

26 This practice is to be distinguished from the much more widely spread habit of writing interlinear translation of Greek passages.

27 See Sneddon Reference Sneddon2018: 48; Newton Reference Newton1999, pl. 140.

28 Bischoff, Katalog I.1895.

29 CLA 7.980 (see e.g. p. 5). The same is apparently true of the Greek in Namur, Bibliothèque Communale Ms. 16 (St. Hubert, s. IX2/4, Bischoff, Katalog II.3562), Jerome, Commentarius in Oseam. Souter Reference Souter1935 (now rather dated) suggests that the transliteration of Greek words in Jerome's Commentary on Matthew is common in the manuscripts (without giving specific details).

30 Colmar, Bibliothèque municipale, 29 (+ Manchester, John Rylands MS lat. 15), cf. Bischoff, Katalog I.950; f. 1v has typωcin glossed with tirosin.

31 Bischoff, Katalog III.4667a.

32 Paris lat. 7651; our glossary begins on f. 218r, after the bilingual glossary of Ps.-Philoxenus. Some of the lemmata are drawn from the so-called Epitome de Caesaribus (on which see Stover and Woudhuysen Reference Stover and Woudhuysen2021). On the connection to Hilduin, see Lapidge Reference Lapidge2017: 770–1; Cinato (per litteras) has noted that there are also palaeographic features in the manuscript that would plausibly connect it to the region of Paris.

33 Note for example the intervocalic ‘g’ in pogeian; this is the phenomenon that gave rise to such widely distributed forms as Apulegius in the Middle Ages (for the similar process by which intervocalic ‘g’ was omitted, see Stotz Reference Stotz1996–2004: III.VIII.§173.1–6). See also Kaczynski Reference Kaczynski1988: 31.

34 On the transmission of the Cynegeticon, see Dolveck Reference Dolveckforthcoming. The three manuscripts are Paris lat. 7561 (s. IX, the last quarter, per Bischoff, Katalog III.4477) and 4839 (s. X and from England: Bischoff, Katalog III p. 103) and Vienna 3261 (s. XVI).

35 Hincmar, Opusculum LV capitulorum adversus Hincmarum Laudunensem 24 (p. 247 Schieffer).

36 Cf. Nemes., Cyn. 1–2, which has hilaresque rather than tristesque. As de Gianni Reference de Gianni2011 has argued, this is a deliberate alteration of the text by Hincmar to suit his polemical purpose.

37 On Hincmar's life in general, see Stone Reference Stone, Stone and West2015; and on his early life, see Devisse Reference Devisse1975–1976, ii.1089–97.

38 There is no title in this manuscript. On its provenance, see Bischoff, Katalog III.4477.

39 See above, n. 34 for details.

40 For the manuscript, see Bischoff, Katalog III.4259: ‘Reims, IX. Jh., ca. 3. Viertel’.

41 Opusculum LV capitulorum adversus Hincmarum Laudunensem 43 (p. 315 Schieffer): cum suppeterent sufficienter verba Latina, quae in his locis ponere poteras, ubi Greca et obstrusa et interdum Scottica et alia barbara, ut tibi visum fuit, nothata atque corrupta posuisti.

42 Pecere Reference Pecere, Pecere and Reeve1995: 337 dates it ‘all'inizio del secondo quarto del secolo IX’. This is partially based on Bischoff's palaeographic dating to the second quarter of the ninth century, with the external constraints of the date of B, which Pecere wants to make before 842, in the abbacy of Hrabanus at Fulda, and the De rectoribus Christianis of Sedulius Scottus, which reflects his reading of P (see Dorfbauer Reference Dorfbauer2020).

43 On the use of Greek in ninth-century scholia, see O'Sullivan Reference O'Sullivan2012. The practice of rendering titles in Greek is related to the impulse Berschin Reference Berschin, Coulson and Babcock2020: 115 identified to use Greek ‘for giving ornamental emphasis to proper names’.

44 This presentation is based on the text of P.

45 e.g. Hadrian 17.12 dona (deleted by Mommsen); Avidius Cassius 4.3 id est materiam (deleted by Casaubon), Alexander Severus 43.2 vel dies vel tempora (deleted by Casaubon); 44.8: pecuniam (deleted by Salmasius), Maximus et Balbinus 5.1 vehicularius fabricator (deleted by Paschoud), and Claudius 6.2 in rep. (deleted by Paschoud). Cf. Venturi Reference Venturi1973: 37 on Caracalla 5.5.

46 Stover Reference Stover2020b: 135–6.

47 Incidentally, thinking of κυνηγετικὰ as an intruded gloss also resolves the slight awkwardness of a three-item list in the form a, b, et c. While such lists do occur elsewhere in the HA and in contemporary Latin texts, they were not the most correct form (on the use of conjunctions in lists, see Adams Reference Adams2021: esp. 398).

48 See Dorfbauer Reference Dorfbauer2020; and Stover Reference Stover2020b.

49 For an overview of earlier efforts to identify extant poems as (fragments of) these, see Volpilhac Reference Volpilhac1975, 11–12. Verdière Reference Verdière1974: 19–27 made a quixotic attempt to revive the identification of Anthologia Latina 718 (Riese2), the Ad Oceanum and AL 720 (Riese2), the Ponticon, as part of the Nautica. This was briskly dismissed by Smolak Reference Smolak and Herzog1993: 358, who correctly concluded: ‘il est douteux qu'ils aient jamais existé’. For a more realistic estimate of the Ad Oceanum, see Canal Reference Canal2013.

50 PIR 2 A.1562 (Stein); PLRE I ‘Nemesianus 2’. Somewhat surprisingly, they both also gingerly admitted the ἁλιευτικά and ναυτικά to historical reality with a parenthetical question mark.

51 Syme Reference Syme1971: 279 and n. 2, ‘there is no reason to doubt the “Olympius”’. Paschoud Reference Paschoud2002: 366: ‘Olympius n'est donné que par le présent passage de l’HA, mais il n'y a pas de raison sérieuse de mettre en doute l'authenticité de cette partie de son nom’.

52 Smolak Reference Smolak and Herzog1993; Scourfield Reference Scourfield, Hornblower, Spawforth and Eidinow2012; Uden Reference Uden and Nicholson2018. In the literature, see e.g. Chastagnol Reference Chastagnol1976; Küppers Reference Küppers1987; Altmayer Reference Altmayer2014: 27–8 — it is noteworthy that Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014 omits it.

53 On late antique names, see Cameron Reference Cameron1985 and (especially) Salway Reference Salway1994.

54 Most easily done through the helpful index nominum in Seeck Reference Seeck1883: 342–52, where the names actually used by Symmachus are in small caps (a very useful practice which ought to be more widely adopted by editors).

55 This is most easily grasped by looking at the entries in ‘Appendix D’ of Bagnall and Worp Reference Bagnall and Worp2004. Procedure varied for emperors, but for private individuals the dual name is the normal pattern. Consular dating became regular in Egypt only from the Tetrarchic period onwards (Bagnall and Worp Reference Bagnall and Worp1979: 282; Reference Bagnall and Worp1982). See in general also the important article by Salway Reference Salway2008: 280–5.

56 See Cameron Reference Cameron1988.

57 For Paris lat. 7561, see above, Section II. Paris lat. 4839 (f. 20r) has MAURELII MENESINI KATAGINENSIS / CYNEGETICON. Vienna 3261 (f. 48r) has M. AURELII NEMESIANI / CARTHAGINENSIS / CYNEGETICON (and a similar notice at the end of the poem).

58 This, a gentilicium, would not on its own have been the correct way to refer to someone in Late Antiquity, but it does usefully confirm the testimony of the manuscripts.

59 The transmission of Nemesianus’ Eclogues, separate from the Cynegetica, is complex and bound up with that of Calpurnius Siculus, to whom alone the second family of MSS attributes them (see Reeve Reference Reeve and Reynolds1983 — Paris lat. 17903 f. 74r attributes the extracts of the poems it contains to one Scalpurius, presumably a mangling of Calpurnius — ark:/12148/btv1b52500967c). The two extant manuscripts of the first family, however, Florence, BML plut. 90 inf.12 and Naples V.A.8, call the poet Aurelianus Nemesianus (see e.g. Williams Reference Williams1986: 9–10). The lost manuscript, which Niccolo Angeli saw, belonging to Taddeo Ugoleto seems to have done the same (Volpilhac Reference Volpilhac1975: 34). The twelfth-century catalogue from Prüfening mentions bucolica Aureliani (Manitius Reference Manitius1935: 120). Wrocław, Biblioteka Universytecka 59 (s. XV) has the curious title CALPHURNII POETAE AD NEMESIANUM / CARTHAGINENSEM BUCOLICA INCIPIT f. 4r (, cf. f. 27r).

60 Brescia, Bibloteca Queriniana MS C.VII.1 (c. 1450) has the title T. Calphurnii Siculi et M. Aurelii Olympii Nemesiani bucolica, but it has been added in a later hand (Williams Reference Williams1986: 17) and must derive from the HA itself.

61 OPEL III does not register the name, but see ILD 545, IDR 3.2.17; CIL 6.22899 (a restoration but plausible) and 15.7414. PLRE I yields two other Nemesiani, though on ‘Ausonius Nemesianus’, see the important corrections of Bagnall Reference Bagnall1992. Foraboschi Reference Foraboschi1967–1971: 204–5 has eleven entries and LGPN two (both Athens in the third century), to which add I.Thespies 180, I.Cos Segre EF 136, OGIS 708 and two instances where the name is a very likely restoration (I.Olympia 480 and IGLS 5.2106). The suggestion of Verdière Reference Verdière1974: 2 that the name was assumed in honour of the Nemesiaci, a hunting fraternity dedicated to Nemesis and Diana, might charitably be called courageous.

62 Nemesianus of Thubunae: see Cyprian, Ep. 62, 70, 76, 77 and Sententiae Episcoporum 5 (CCSL 3E pp. 15–21, ed. Diercks). On him in general, see Clarke Reference Clarke1986: 281. Turner Reference Turner1901: 602–6 is an interesting study of his Biblical text. Note also L. Aurelius Nemesianus, vir egregius and procurator Augusti, who restored some baths at Volubilis in Mauretania Tingitana under Severus Alexander.

63 For his commemoration as a martyr: CIL 8.20600 and MEFR 1890.440 of a.d. 359 (Mauretania Caesariensis). Augustine: De baptismo 6.12.19.

64 Kracker and Scholz Reference Kracker, Scholz, Pferdehirt and Scholz2012 assemble some statistical evidence from inscriptions for the diffusion of different imperial nomina in different provinces. While in general showing that the onomastic impact of the constitutio Antoniniana was considerable, their figures suggest a significant divergence between the Greek-speaking regions of the Empire (where Aurelius is the most common nomen) and the Latin- (where Iulius tends to predominate). It must, however, be borne in mind that the epigraphic evidence is likely to significantly underrepresent poorer citizens (as Kracker and Scholz Reference Kracker, Scholz, Pferdehirt and Scholz2012: 68 acknowledge; cf. Lavan Reference Lavan2016: 7), so the proportion of Aurelii probably represents (at best) a lower bound. Their figures for Africa Proconsularis (including Numidia), where they find 12.4 per cent of those named in inscriptions are Aurelii (behind only Iulii and Flavii), are unfortunately unreliable. They are based (67 and n. 5) on The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania (IRT = Reynolds and Ward Perkins Reference Reynolds and Ward Perkins1952) and on the onomastic index to Inscriptions latines de la Tunisie (ILT = Merlin Reference Merlin1944) by Abdallah and Ladjimi Sebai Reference Abdallah and Ladjimi Sebai1983 — it is not clear from what Kracker and Scholz say whether they have used the index to the Inscriptions latines d'Afrique (ILAfr = Cagnat et al. Reference Cagnat, Merlin and Chatelain1923) published in the same volume (it seems unlikely given the very low number of individuals they find overall). ILT, however, offers only a selective re-edition of and supplement to CIL VIII and its various supplements (ILAfr publishes texts not included in those supplements): it is not a comprehensive or representative sample of North African inscriptions (hence why Kracker and Scholz Reference Kracker, Scholz, Pferdehirt and Scholz2012, table 2, found only 258 individuals epigraphically attested in the region, under half the number they find for Britain!). In Salway Reference Salway1994: 134 and n. 59, the statement that Aurelii account for 23 per cent of the nomina in the Christian inscriptions of Rome and Carthage appears to be a misreading of Kajanto Reference Kajanto1963: 16, where the figures relate only to Rome. The nomen Aurelius was certainly very common in North Africa and its distribution would repay further study, though that would require that the Christian inscriptions be taken properly into account.

65 See the brief but perspicacious summary of Salway Reference Salway1994: 133–6 and the more substantial overviews by Buraselis Reference Buraselis2007: 94–120; Rizakis Reference Rizakis and Dondin-Payre2011; Besson Reference Besson2020: 75–104. The important paper by Blanco-Pérez Reference Blanco-Pérez2016 is of particular significance for M. Aurelii as a third-century phenomenon.

66 The social status of the Aurelii was demonstrated for Egypt, the region where we can most confidently be more than impressionistic, in two classic studies by Keenan Reference Keenan1973; Reference Keenan1974. In North Africa, their relatively humble position is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that in the Timgad Album, which lists members of the city's council in the 360s, there are a mere four Aurelii amongst the 204 individuals who have a gentilicium and one of those is a cleric (Chastagnol Reference Chastagnol1978: 49, 53, 94). There were evidently not many local landowners with the name. For the view that the overwhelming majority of the Empire's inhabitants were not enfranchised before 212, see the compelling paper by Lavan Reference Lavan2016 (cf. Lavan Reference Lavan2019, showing the limited numerical impact of enfranchisement through military service).

67 See Volpilhac Reference Volpilhac1975: 7–8, who was rightly sceptical.

68 On the decline of praenomina, see Salomies Reference Salomies1987: 390–413.

69 PLRE I registers 18 bearers of it, with only two individuals using it before their diacritic. Of these, Tamesius Olympius ‘Augentius 1’ is a slightly doubtful case, as the name Olympii is actually detached on the inscription (ILS 4269) that attests it. OPEL III.112 does not register it as a nomen.

70 Though it has not often been noted, Olympius is an attested signum: Kajanto Reference Kajanto1967: 86. In contrast to PIR 2, PLRE I does not explicitly register Olympius as Nemesianus’ signum, but its placement of it after his diacritic indicates as much.

71 On signa, see Woudhuysen Reference Woudhuysen2019 and the literature cited therein. The terminology is in some senses unsatisfactory. Later Romans used signum to indicate some additional names (mostly but by no means always ending -ius), but most of what we now think of as signa are not introduced by any formula at all, nor is there much explicit evidence for what they were called. Yet supernomina terminating in -ius are a clearly visible category in our evidence (see Kajanto Reference Kajanto1967, 52–4).

72 Woudhuysen Reference Woudhuysen2019: 851–2.

73 PLRE I ‘Symmachus 3’. The inscription is ILS 1275. In contrast, the praetorian prefect of the 360s Saturninius Secundus signo Salutius is more often called Salutius than Secundus by the sources (PLRE I ‘Secundus 3’).

74 For ‘bogus names’, see, canonically, Syme Reference Syme1966. As Burgersdijk Reference Burgersdijk, de Temmerman and Demoen2016 has already noted, an onomasticon of the bogus names in the HA is a major desideratum — the closest work that currently exists is Domaszewski Reference Domaszewski1918, which deserves to be taken more seriously than it perhaps has, but is now seriously dated.

75 Steele Reference Steele1918: 113 says that for the 700 or so men for whom Tacitus offers a double name, about two-thirds are referred to by gentilicium and cognomen. Browsing in the very useful onomasticon by Fabia Reference Fabia1900 confirms the general point. Pliny: Vidman Reference Vidman1981; Birley Reference Birley2000: 21–34 and the ‘Index of Persons and Deities’.

76 The figure is from Steele Reference Steele1918: 114: the only detailed consideration of the matter.

77 Mostly introduced by some form of cognomentum: Demetrius Cythras (19.12.2); Eusebius Mattycopa (15.5.4); Eusebius Pittacas (14.5.18); Gratianus Funarius (30.7.2); Paulus Catena (14.5.8; 15.3.4; 22.3.11); Petrus Valvomeres (15.7.4). In contrast, signa are generally not signalled by Ammianus: C. Ceionius Rufius Volusianus is always referred to by his signum Lampadius (15.5.4, 27.3.5, 28.1.6); Saturninius Secundus signo Salutius is only once Secundus Salutius (22.3.1, otherwise plain Salutius); Q. Flavius Maesius Egnatius Lollianus signo Mavortius is once Lollianus (15.8.17) and once Mavortius (16.8.5), without any indication these are references to the same person.

78 Aradius Rufinus (23.1.4, Rufinus Aradius); Vulcacius Rufinus (27.7.2, 27.11.1, cf. 21.12.24, Rufinus Vulcacius); Tarracius Bassus (28.1.7). See also Rusticus Iulianus (27.6.1). The reversal may also speak to the influence of Tacitus, who occasionally did the same (Goodyear Reference Goodyear1972: 148). In general, on the phenomenon of cognomen + nomen, see Shackleton Bailey Reference Shackleton Bailey1965: 402–3.

79 This section of the work was chosen because it is Festus’ only sustained narrative of post-republican history in the Breviarium. 19: Octavian Caesar Augustus (bis, once Augustus Caesar) and Claudius Caesar (bis ); 21: Antonini duo, Marcus et Verus; Antoninus, cognomento Caracalla; 22: Aurelius Alexander.

80 10.2.3: Maximianus Herculius (a signum), cf. 10.3.1: Herculius tamen Maximianus; 10.16.5: Marcus Antoninus; 10.17.2: Pontius Telesinus (the Samnite leader).

81 For the Mathesis, see Kroll et al. Reference Kroll, Skutsch and Ziegler1897–1913. The Panegyrici were edited by Mynors Reference Mynors1964. Both editions have helpful indices nominum.

82 The nature of the work — and indeed of the genre into which it falls — leaves any judgement about which figures are historical open to question (we have, e.g., excluded Nechepso and Petosiris), but a different arrangement would not alter the conclusions here.

83 Julius Caesar and Marcus Tullius both appear in Math. 2.praef.2. The hero of the Trojan war is called ‘Paris Alexander’ (6.30.12). Firmicus’ later and shorter De errore features no dual names at all.

84 Mavortius: 1.proem.1, 6, 5.praef.1, 1.1, 7.1, 6.1.1, 1.10, 22.1, 28.2, 31.26, 37, 32.1, 33.1, 40.1, 7.1.2, 26.12, 8.1.1, 6, 4.14. Lollianus: 1.proem.8, 3.3, 10.1, 15, 2.29.20, 3.proem.2, 4.proem.3, 5.1.38. It is rather striking that (outside the first book, where both are found), Lollianus predominates in the earlier books and Mavortius in the later. On the relationship between Firmicus and Mavortius, see Woudhuysen Reference Woudhuysen, Burgersdijk and Ross2018.

85 They include the names of many mythical figures and divinities as well, invariably referred to by a single name. Our count of thirty-nine includes (e.g.) Perseus, the king of Macedonia, but not (for instance) Romulus or Remus.

86 Julius Caesar is named as C. Caesar at Pan. Lat. 12.6.1. Fulvius Nobilior (the victor over the Aetolians in 189 b.c.: see Nixon and Saylor Rodgers Reference Nixon and Saylor Rodgers1994: 159 and n. 1) appears as Fulvius ille nobilior at 9.7.3, Q. Maximus (Cunctator) at 12.15.5. Pompey the great appears as Pompeiumque Magnum at 7.5.2 and Cn. Pompeius at 12.8.1. Scipio Africanus the elder is P. Scipio at 7.13.5 and 10.8.1.

87 HA, Quadriga Tyrannorum 1.1: Suetonius Tranquillus, Marius Maximus; 1.3: Trebellius Pollio; 2.1: Marcus Fonteius, Rufius Celsus, Ceionius Iulianus, Fabius Sossianus, Severus Archontius; 6.2: Aurelius Festivus; 6.4: Titus Annius Milo; 10.4: Marcus Salvidienus; 15.6: Gallonius Avitus.

88 Only Suetonius, Milo and (murkily) Marius Maximus are clearly not.

89 Commodus 7.5: Larcius Eurupianus. Severus 13.1: Masticius Fabianus and Aurunculeius Cornelianus. Alexander Severus 35.5: Verconius Turinus. OPEL lists three instances of Aurunculeius (I.105) and seven of Larcius (III.19). It has no entry for Masticius or Verconius (though see IV.157 for Verconnius, cf. Aurelianus 44.2 for Verconnius Herennianus), but see MEFR 1897.446 for a C. Masticius Saturninus, CIL 5.7222 for a Verconi(a) Segia, and CIL 11.884 for a Q. Verconius Agatho. On occasion, the HA referred to individuals by their gentilicium alone: Julia Domna is called ‘Iulia’ throughout; the Articuleius of Hadrianus 3.1 is Q. Articuleius Paetus cos. 101; the Fulvius of Pescennius Niger 6.2 is Fulvius Plautianus (elsewhere called Plautianus — Severus 6.10, describing the same events, 14.5, 7–8, 15.4; Caracalla 1.7; Geta 4.4; Heliogabalus 8.6); the Tigidius of Commodus 4.7 is Sextus Tigidius Perennis and is otherwise called Perennis (5.1, 2, 3, 6, 6.1, 2).

90 cf. Domaszewski Reference Domaszewski1918: 4: ‘In zweistelligen Namen hielt er es für unerläßlich, daß der erste Name auf ius, ia endete’.

91 In P, one explicit gives Aelius Lampridius the praenomen L(ucius) (f. 118v). Hohl signals this in his apparatus, but earlier editions did not generally include the explicits — perhaps for this reason, the praenomen seems never to have attracted scholarly attention. Lampridius was a rare gentilicium (OPEL III.18 cites CIL 3.4370; add M. Lampridius Scaurus and his son L. Lampridius Scaurus from CIL 9.3100), but by the later fourth century was being used as a diacritic (PLRE II: 656–7 registers two Lampridii). Spartianus is a very rare name, but an estate that features in the Heroninos archive in the middle of the third century A.D. (on which see Rathbone Reference Rathbone1991) had once belonged to someone who bore it: P. Bingen 111, P. Flor. 2.254, P. Prag. 1.116, 3.240, SB 6.9409 (5), 14.12054, 16.12381 (P. Col. 10.255 shows that it had existed since at least the second century). It is also a very likely restoration in P.Petra 5.60 (dated a.d. 530–600) and we might note too the [Σπ]αρτείνα of IG XIV 339 and the Spartiatius of CJ 12.49.12 (the Spartianorum princeps in the Old Latin translation of 1 Maccabees 14.20 is also interesting). That Spartianus is an otherwise attested name suggests that efforts to emend it to Speratianus (most recently Baker Reference Baker2014: 6) are misguided, especially considering that the hypothetical error presupposed by the emendation would have had to occur multiple times independently. Syracusius, which is found after the name of Vopiscus in one of the rubrics of P (f. 180v) is not a name, but rather a rare ethnic (cf. e.g. Cic., Brut. 66, de Or. 2.57; Vitr. 9.8.1). Vopiscus had of course begun as a praenomen, but by the early empire was being used as a cognomen, as e.g. by the ordinary consul of 114 P. Manilius P.F. Gal. Vopiscus Vicinillianus L. Elfurius Severus Iulius Quadratus Bassus, the P. Manilius Vopiscus of consular dates (Salomies Reference Salomies1992: 138–9). The names of the scriptores have been much discussed, but largely as an index of the author's capacity to pun or allude (e.g. Domaszewski Reference Domaszewski1918: 11–13; see Thomson Reference Thomson2012: 29–36 for a useful survey). They have received less attention as names (an exception is the very brief coverage in Lippold Reference Lippold1999: 155).

92 Cognomine: e.g. Aelius 6.9 (Pius). Appellatus est: e.g. Heliogabalus 17.5 (Tiberinus et Tractatitius et Inpurus). Cognominatus: e.g. Antoninus Pius 2.3 (Pius). Cognomento: e.g. Gallieni duo 2.4 (Thessalicus).

93 Gordiani tres 9.3–5.

94 Hadrianus 24.3–4; Severus 17.6; Aurelianus 30.4–5.

95 Like much else in the HA's use of names, this is in contrast to other Latin historical texts: Ammianus and Eutropius (see above) both use signa without much indication that they are nicknames.

96 Commodus 11.8–9, cf. Clodius Albinus 2.4.

97 See Kajanto Reference Kajanto1967: 52–3.

98 Aurelian 6.2.

99 Pescennius Niger 8.5, cf. Gordiani Tres 4.8 (though we might understand Antoninus to be a nickname of the Gordian in question).

100 e.g. paenularius in Diadumenus 2.8 (in a discussion of nicknames). Single names ending in -ius in the HA, which might be thought signa, are mostly attested elsewhere as names, usually Greek or gentilicia (which, as noted above, n. 89, the HA did occasionally use in isolation). A sample of the more interesting: Acholius (Alexander Severus 14.6, 48.7, 64.5; Aurelianus 12.3; a Greek name: LGPN lists five instances); Antistius (Aurelianus 50.3, a nomen: OPEL I.60); Cecropius (Gallieni duo 14.4, 7, 9; Probus 22.3; Cecropia is registered once as a cognomen by OPEL II.46, but add a Cecropius in CIL 6.30839; a Cecropius was bishop of Nicomedia in the middle of the fourth century, Athanasius, Historia Arianorum 75.1, and another, bishop of Sebastopolis, attended the council of Chalcedon in 451); Cordius (Heliogabalus 6.3, 12.1, 15.2; a nomen, but attested as a cognomen: OPEL II.75); Encolpius (Alexander Severus 17.1, 48.7; OPEL II.117 lists only one instance but add CIL 6.30810, 15963, 16588, 17159, 18048, 22951, 37322, 11.7249, 12.242; many for slaves or freedmen); Eugamius (Maximini duo 27.5, identified as a Greek rhetor, LGPN registers three women with the name Eugamia); Theoclius (Aurelianus 6.4; not attested but Theocles was a very common Greek name, with 191 instances in the LGPN); Toxotius (Maximini Duo 27.6, perhaps inspired by the senatorial Toxotii of the fourth century: PLRE I: 921); Tynchanius (Gordiani tres 14.7; a Tynchanius who was bishop of Apollonias featured prominently in the council of Chalcedon). Palfuerius, the Isaurian brigand (Probus 16.4) is a rare exception to this broad trend, but is clearly not a signum. One Cecropius is also identified as Ceronius (Gallieni duo 14.4) a name for which there is no parallel. Domaszewski Reference Domaszewski1918: 138 identified (besides Toxotius and Eugamius) four signa: Severus Archontius (Quadriga Tyrannorum 2.1), Claudius Eusthenius (Carus 18.5), Aelius Xifidius (Aurelianus 12.1), and Zosimio (Claudius 14.2). Zosimio is a well-attested Greek name (LGPN lists 16 instances of Zωσιμίων). Aelius Xifidius is an editorial restoration for P's deeply corrupt aelioxi fidio (Hohl's apparatus is completely misleading on this point) (cf. also the Xifidius listed as a consul in the Excerpta Latina Barbari, ed. Schöne Reference Schöne1866–1875: 1.227). There is a Eusthenius (which does not seem to be a signum) in the Carmina XII sapientum, argued by Friedrich Reference Friedrich2002 to be of Tetrarchic date (Gregory of Tours also had a niece with the name: PLRE III ‘Eusthenia’). Isidore of Pelusium's Ep. 1247 is addressed to a priest called Archontius (cf. 1807, to the children of Archontius), one Archontius was a subdeacon at Angers in the middle of the fifth century (see the letter of Lupus and Eufronius, CCSL 148 p. 140, ed. Munier), and the name occurs in two fifth-century inscriptions (ICUR N.S. 8.20819, another Gaul, and AE 1975 411b).

101 Verus 8.10; Clodius Albinus 4.9; Macrinus 4.1. In the case of Victor, the nickname is Pinius, since in the formula cui cognomen erat, the name is almost always in the dative: Livy 2.33.5, 3.12.8, 4.13.6, 23.34.16, 23.37.10, 23.39.3, 26.8.2, 26.39.15, (25.28.5 is a rare exception, but the nickname, for one Epicydes, is presumably Greek); Plin., HN 7.143; Suet., Iul. 59.1, Claud. 26.1; Val. Max. 1.5.9, 5.4.7; Verg., Aen. 1.267, 9.593. In Tyranni Triginta 8.3, Mamurius and Veturius are nicknames, but derived from Mamurius Veturius, the legendary smith.

102 The text is from Sweeney Reference Sweeney1997, with some minor changes to orthography.

103 The precise translation of this entry is not perspicacious, but the key point seems clear enough. The personified moon is shown driving a chariot pulled by heifers on the Parabiago Plate, cf. Auson., Epist. 15.3, 17.3 (iuvencae), Claud., De raptu Pros. 3.403 (iuvenci). The passage is not cited by the TLL s.v. ‘luna’ (7.2.1829.40–1837.34 (Maltby and Flury)), but does appear in ‘iuvenix’, without much explanation of what is going on (7.2.740.38–55 (Quadlbauer)).

104 Shackleton Bailey Reference Shackleton Bailey2004: 99 translates mediae ‘full’ (as in a full moon), but the scholiast seems to understand it as a comment on its position in the heavens.

105 LGPN registers 129 instances. PLRE I: 647–8 lists four individuals while OPEL III.112 has 16.

106 These lines are not included in Courtney Reference Courtney1993.

108 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 86.

109 As Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 276 shows, his text did indeed read ‘Olympus’ and the change was conscious.

110 As Gibbon famously did, though his credulity has perhaps sometimes been overstated: the advertisement to volume I (Womersley Reference Womersley1994, I.5) already betrays some anxiety about the scriptores.

111 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 275–82. Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare CLXIII (150) (CLA 4.516). The poem is edited, with a very substantial introduction and commentary, in Guex Reference Guex2000.

112 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 280–1.

113 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 276.

114 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 277.

115 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 278–82.

116 The poem does mention the lion, l. 75.

117 Wernsdorf Reference Wernsdorf1780: 277.

118 Volpilhac Reference Volpilhac1975: 13 and n. 1; Verdière Reference Verdière1974: 36–46 had returned to Wernsdorf's theory. On quantities, see further Guex Reference Guex2000: 60–3.

119 See Guex Reference Guex2000: 82–3.

120 Guex Reference Guex2000: 66–9, endorsed by Dewar in his review (Reference Dewar2006).

121 It survived even the scepticism of Lenz Reference Lenz1935: 2334, though one can tell that the scholia made him uneasy.

122 There is a useful overview in Smolak Reference Smolak and Herzog1993: 360. For his medieval reception, see e.g. Mustard Reference Mustard1916.

123 For the Eclogues, Schenkl's edition (Reference Schenkl1885) offers a very extensive apparatus of parallels. Not all of these are convincing, but they give some sense both of the allusivity of Nemesianus’ verse and the richness of his reception. The same can be said of the even richer collection in Korzeniewski Reference Korzeniewski1976. For the Cynegetica, the commentary by Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014 assembles many interesting possible borrowings.

124 De Caesaribus 38.1.

125 Nemesianus: Verbera sunt praecepta fugae, sunt verbera freni vs Ausonius: mirabamur poetam, qui infrenos dixerat Numidias [cf. Verg., Aen. 4.41] et alterum [i.e. Nemesianus], qui ita collegerat, ut diceret in equitando verbera et praecepta esse fugar et praecepta sistendi.

126 Avienius: compare Descriptio orbis terrae 478, tumet illic ardua Calpe with Nemesianus, Cyn. 251, Quin etiam gens ampla iacet trans ardua Calpes (cf. Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014: 147, who also, 59, suggests a connection between Cyn. 4 and Avienius, Phaen. 76, which is rather weaker). Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014: 81–2 argues for the influence of Cyn. 58–62 on the prologue to Claudian's De raptu Proserpinae; some of the other examples of Nemesianus’ influence on the later poet that he offers (90, 91, 127) are somewhat more persuasive. The best (cf. Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014: 131) is perhaps Cyn. 204 Quod seu caelesti corrupto sidere manat vs Claudian, De Bello Gildonico 39–40, Quid referam morbive luem tumulosve repletos / stragibus et crebras corrupto sidere mortes: no other poet seems to refer to a sidus corruptum. Dracontius: compare Cyn. 135–6, Quis nondum gressus stabiles neque lumina passa / luciferum videre iubar and Dracontius, De laudibus dei 1.421–2, ast ubi purpureo surgentem ex aequores cernunt / luciferum vibrare iubar flammasque ciere (cf. Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014: 111) and Cyn. 292, culmosque armarit aristis with Dracontius, Romulea 3.6, culmosque armarit aristis (Jakobi Reference Jakobi2014: 163).

127 Compare Carmen contra Paganos 1–8 on the pagan gods with Eclogues 2.20–24, noting in particular colitis and dicite (sexual misconduct features in both). On the Carmen, see Cameron Reference Cameron2011: 273–319, who argues compellingly that the poem was written by Pope Damasus in 384 and that its target was Vettius Agorius Praetextatus. On the use of Nemesianus in the Einsiedeln Eclogues, see Stover Reference Stover2015: 299. It is curious that both the Carmen (103) and the Eclogues (2.37) imitate the same line in Nemesianus (4.54).

128 ICUR 7.17962 = ILCV 3431, sidereasq(ue) colunt sedes mundoq(ue) fruantur = Nemesianus, Eclogues 1.40. Note also that tu decus omne tuis is from Verg., Ecl. 5.34. Assuming that the fragmentary line et Albini at the end is a consular date, then 335 and 345 are possibilities, given that the junior consul was called Albinus (Bagnall et al. Reference Bagnall, Cameron, Schwartz and Worp1987: 204, 224). So too are 346, the post-consulate of Amantius and Albinus in the West (Bagnall et al. Reference Bagnall, Cameron, Schwartz and Worp1987: 226) and 444, when an Albinus was again consul posterior (Bagnall et al. Reference Bagnall, Cameron, Schwartz and Worp1987: 422; in 493 an Albinus was consul prior: 520). 444 might be preferred, since et Albini occurs towards the end of the line and the titulature of Theodosius II, who was the other consul that year, might most easily have filled up the rest (D.N. Theodosii Aug. XVIII). On the use of Virgil's bucolics in inscriptions, see Velaza Reference Velaza2019.

129 Gargilius: Zainaldin Reference Zainaldin2020: 1–4. Phlegon: pace Galimberti Reference Galimberti and Rizzi2010, who while acknowledging the letter's fictionality tries to save some historical core.

130 See Rohrbacher Reference Rohrbacher2016: 24–5.

131 Cf. Lippold Reference Lippold1999: 160, who actually uses the ‘reality’ of Nemesianus to suggest that Aurelius Apollinaris might have been a genuine figure.

132 For some bracing scepticism on Marius Maximus, see Paschoud Reference Paschoud1999a.

133 Rohrbacher Reference Rohrbacher2016: 39–41.

134 At Carus 8.4, P actually reads iubus capurnius, which Matoci corrected to iulius calphurnius. Σ reads iubet caprinius — a mistake that only makes sense if derived from an abbreviated version of P's reading (e.g. iub’ capurnius in B) — yet another mark of the family's ultimate derivation from P.

135 Fabricius Reference Fabricius1697: 152. On the date of Calpurnius Siculus, see still Champlin Reference Champlin1978, whose conclusions stand despite the recent challenge attempted by Nauta Reference Nauta2021.

136 Rohrbacher Reference Rohrbacher2016: 40.

137 For jewelled belts, cf. Verg., Aen. 5.313, a golden belt with jewelled fibula; Sen., Ep. 76.14, a golden belt with a jewelled scabbard.

138 Cf. TLL 2.1711.21–1712.68 (Ihm).

140 Baker Reference Baker2014: 312–15. The supposed accuracy of the name Olympius Nemesianus is one implicit argument in favour of this position he deploys (Baker Reference Baker2014: 150).

141 Comparison with an actual Carolingian compilation of late antique materials is deeply revealing: Barrett and Woudhuysen Reference Barrett and Woudhuysen2016.

142 Shedd Reference Shedd2021: 20.


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