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Florus orator an poeta ? or, To Compare Small Things with Great1

Jared Hudson

Résumé

Despite receiving much attention following its discovery in the nineteenth century, the captivating dialogue fragment Vergilius orator an poeta ? of Florus now lurks in the margins of Latin literary scholarship. This article, the first of a pair of studies on the work, aims to show what readers have been missing. It examines this tantalizing piece of prose as a novel form of autofiction, whereby Florus builds a sophisticated self-portrait out of an elaborate array of references to and evocations of literary texts : he shows how he lives literature like no one else. This reading demonstrates how the work’s unique autobiographical prose functions to playfully advertise Florus’ special status as (frustrated) poet-turned-grammaticus, and to dramatize his flourishing contributions to Latin literary culture in provincial Spain—despite having been thwarted by a tyrannical princeps.

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Introduction

  • 1 Cf. non aliter, si conferre paruis magna licet [‘just so, if one may compare great things with smal (...)
  • 2 First edited in Ritschl (1842), following the discovery of the text in a single manuscript (MS 1061 (...)
  • 3 As a result, the (mis)treatment of VOAP by scholarship has resembled that of anonymous Latin texts, (...)
  • 4 And very likely of the surviving poems, as well as of the remains of letters to Hadrian ( =Char. p. (...)

1If Florus’ unduly marginalized historical Epitome has recently benefitted from (some) scholarly revaluation, the slender and enticing dialogue fragment, Vergilius orator an poeta ? (hereafter VOAP), also attributed to Florus, currently lurks in Latin literature’s shadows. As a case-study in the long-term reception of a ‘minor’ text, it is difficult to say which is more remarkable : that a once-canonical ancient compendium of Roman history, long the object of careful study for its striking individuality of both style and outlook, would end up effectively off the table for contemporary scholarship ; or that VOAP, this astonishing 1830s discovery comprising 5-odd pages of stylized, first-person narrative and literary dialogue, would, after a flurry of scholarly attention, soon fade from relevance, practically forgotten.2 The considerable power exerted by notions of authorship has certainly played a role, as the issue of attribution has dogged this piece of autobiographical prose.3 Yet, despite the nomenclatural garbling that has given some scholars pause, there is little reason to doubt that VOAP is the work of the writer of the Epitome.4 Its parallel verbal quirks and tics are too numerous and striking to be accidental. But the question of VOAP’s authorship will not be the focus of the following article, which instead analyzes the surviving portion’s extraordinary content and style. Set in the first decade of the second century CE in Tarraco, very possibly in that town’s imposing temple complex to the divine Augustus, the fragment’s speaker recounts his chance meeting with a Baetican traveler who has been forced to land at the provincial capital on his return from Rome and the Dacian triumph (in either 102 or 107 CE). A more formal dialogue commences, in which Florus tells his story : how, after being unjustly stripped of victory by the emperor Domitian in the poetry competition in the Capitoline Games (most likely of 90 or 94 CE), ostensibly due to his provincial African origins, he wandered aimlessly by sea and land, eventually arriving in Tarraco, where he has worked for five years as a local grammaticus in order to earn his keep. The fragment cuts off in the midst of Florus’ remarkable, and largely unparalleled, speech in defense and praise of school teaching. As the below discussion demonstrates, VOAP is not only a striking testimony to the remote, and canny, participation of one aspiring (and unforgettably frustrated) poet from provincial Africa in the literary politics of imperial regime change from Domitian to Trajan (and Hadrian). The extant piece is also a highly innovative experiment in autobiographical fiction, which blends a highly mannered and allusive poetic style into idiosyncratic rhetorical, rather ‘declamatory’, prose—a fitting form in which to treat the dialogue’s titular question. This article contends that that stylistic approach serves above all to advertise its author’s special identity : not merely as a qualified, indeed over-qualified, discussant of Virgil’s generic essence(s) (i.e., the ensuing dialogue’s main topic), but as a marginalized, yet one-of-a-kind writer-teacher, plucky and resilient enough to survive in trying circumstances, far away from the imperial center, yet simultaneously claiming—and craving—a place in the literary limelight of Rome. It is of course no small irony that such a vivid and inventive specimen of written self-representation would ultimately be neglected due to scholarly anxieties regarding the true identity of its author.

  • 5 Until, that is, Rocchi (2020), extending VOAP a truly warm welcome, at long last.

2The following essay traces this preciously set-up dialogue sneak peek’s belittled, belittling claims to greatness through a running analysis of the fragment’s two prominent thematic strands that articulate Florus’ self-image’s relationship to his texts and his world. Theme One reads Florus’ one-off life of letters as crammed—by design, and by historical accident—into this merest snatch of preambular chit-chat. In precious few pages, he composes a textured self-portrayal that has him simultaneously inhabiting the worlds of scholar, teacher, author, and literary character, traversing the works he reads, expounds, pens, and daydreams his way straight through. The patchwork style that is this portrait’s matrix is itself remarkable, if not precisely new, but the use of such textual and discursive pastiche to constitute a [bite-size] biopic in prose dialogue is a groundbreaking experiment in literary autobiography—one that has been meanly cold-shouldered by Roman studies.5 Master Florus cannot help but teach us our letters, advertising his undeniable possession of the same, as he pictures himself recounting his tale of a gone-south poetic/teaching career prompted by a last-ditch scheme of a carefully staged selfie-request. He would have you know that he lives litterae as precisely no one else. And so, duly plotting his own potted epic tale on spec, the wandering hero can only rove for so long : but, that rhetorical question once again, is Florus’ destined home truly Tarraco, or Rome ? Either way, despite his modest insistence to have found a place (and a chair, cathedra, cf. 3.8) to settle down in, the message of Florus’ performance-piece is loud and clear. Whether already ensconced back in the metropolis at the time of writing, or still itching to make it (back) there, the drift is the same : his pen’s for hire (serious enquiries only).

3Beneath and behind that sandwich-board function hums a far more formidable process, the rumbling machinery of Roman cultural imperialism. Theme Two simultaneously surveys Florus’ empire. It demonstrates how his playfully titillating self-association with princeps and the imperial world space make this marginal sob-story take on—or strain to claim—a global significance, as Florus cannot but shape his worldwide divagations and resettlement on the provincial rim into a parable about cultural-colonial management and self-administration : how and where to find one’s literate self in the great wide open of a Domitianic Trajanic(-Hadrianic ?) Mediterranean ; how a puny man of letters from the cosmopolitan exurbs could ever hope to measure up to the Roman world’s (and Latin literature’s) Biggest Shots. Roman literary-imperial culture means, for Florus—with unavoidable self-mockery, and in the face of the most decisive panning a would-be poet laureate could possibly receive—the sky’s (still) the limit. Some taste of autonomy and authority, however humble or virtual, are forever within reach, even if funneled into the project of grade-school civilization. Effective banishment from a capital literary career has led this whiz kid to far-flung, but greener pastures, where his lettered selfhood can claim the freedom, and the fresh, untrodden ground, to hold sway. Spatially localized, narrowed, even cornered, to be sure, but still plugged into a vast literary-cultural network trained on intimations of universality—and command. Briefly put, Florus’ account of his own schoolmastery epitomizes, even as it self-deprecatingly refracts and parodies, Roman imperial mastery. His signature kicker is that this snapshot of his marginalized state isn’t only an idiosyncratic reflex of Roman imperialism, but also exemplifies a sneaky strategy of cultural revenge on political power, in this case imperial, autocratic bullying. This educator is bashing out his long-deferred, written comeback to a real, live smackdown by the powers-that-have-been. Paradoxically, in his sublimated back talk, Florus shows just how one humble wordsmith, with his acculturated habits of mind and stylus, can do his part to spread the good news of Roman imperial letters, even despite erstwhile rejection by the emperor himself. Teases Florus (with necessary illusion) : Caesar non supra grammaticos.

4A note on method. The following is an explication of VOAP’s literary texture above all by way of intertextual reading. It implicitly relies on the notion of a referential spectrum—from overt and/or deliberate intention, to unconscious, forgetful, or distracted reminiscence, to the unwitting re-articulation of elements, both verbal and thematic, of a collective literary archive—but frequently resists explicit classification according to that spectrum, in the interest of immediacy and concreteness in interpretation. While numerous passages below are flagged as quite probably conscious references, and, in general, the reading is premised on the existence of a writer who is himself ‘very well-read’ (litteris pereruditus VOAP 1.2), many texts are brought to bear as ‘deep’ literary evidence, for the tone, effect, and meaning of these fragmentary words. Although the fragment itself is brief, its intertextual web is dense and deep. In this article, I will explicate along these lines only the first section (VOAP 1), deferring analysis of 2–3 to a forthcoming companion piece.

1. Meeting Expectations

  • 6 Text used is Rocchi (2020), with minor changes. VOAP’s opening words are likely garbled : intransit (...)

1.1 Capienti mihi in templo <otium> et saucium uigilia caput plurimarum arborum amoenitate, euriporum frigore, aeris libertate recreanti obuiam subito quidam fuere, quos ab urbis spectaculo Baeticam reuertentes sinister Africae uentus in hoc litus excusserat. 2 quorum unus, uir, ut postea apparuit, litteris pereruditus, subito ad me conuenit et ‘salue,’ inquit ‘hospes : nisi molestum est, dic nomen tuum ; nam nescio quid oculi mei admonent et quasi per nubilum recognosco.’6

As I was taking a break in the [Man-God] Temple Park and trying to renovate my brains (racked after a bout of midnight belles-lettres) with the picture-perfect surrounds of some big-ticket landscaping, the coolness of the water features, and the fresh, open air, suddenly a group crossed my path. On their way back to Baetica after taking in the sights of the City, a dire wind from Africa had sea-tossed them here, right into this charming beach community. Suddenly one of their number, a real man of letters (as would later emerge), stopped me, crying, ‘Salutations, stranger ! Speak out your name, if you don’t mind. Mine eyes are trying to jog my memory and it’s as if through a mist that I make you out.’

  • 7 On lucubratio, see Janson (1964) 97–8, 147–8 and Ker (2004). Florus may be the first to make a dire (...)
  • 8 Capienti mihi <otium> (1.1) ~ si ita indulges otio (2.1) : a moment of private R&R abruptly shifts (...)
  • 9 Mention of Baetica cannot help but conjure up a couple of far more imposing VIPs from Italica, Traj (...)
  • 10 The Epitome relishes spectactula (1.1.10, 1.5.4, 1.13.8, 1.28.12, 1.32.1, 1.38.10, 20, 21, 1.47.10)

5A bleary fragment sighs into life and some retiring ego settles into a novel form of literary autobiography. Posing as (self-)eavesdropped dialogue, delivering the humble-braggiest pitch of the century, and capitalizing on regime change to further a displaced, misplaced career. Our washed-up hero gets comfortable in a lush park-cum-backwater to show you he is in need of serious restoration. Just watch him muse. Worn out by the trying labors of lucubratio, he has surely earned access to a locus amoenus, however modest, or simulated.7 His still-prefatory, barely articulated ‘leisure’ (<otium>) is immediately cut short by (and soon to be redefined in terms of) the sudden arrival of a band of nameless Somebodies, literary tourist-cognoscenti and, we are to learn, devoted fans of theirs truly, the Narrator.8 Whaddya know. Lettered Baeticans : not-to-be-underestimated provincials, with past experience of the capital.9 Not unlike your dear narrator, as it turns out. But the difference between these two parties’ respective departures from the imperial center could not be more pointed. Now, by sheerest coincidence, their misdirected itineraries have wound up dovetailing just in time for a <whole pamphlet’s worth of> sermo. Booking the return trip back from metropolitan sightseeing (all-purpose and/or Dacico-triumphal), the Andalusian aficionados have been blown off course by a mighty wind from down south and chucked by fate precisely here, on this selfsame coast.10 By contrast, once upon a time our shadowy protagonist vacated Rome in bitterest disappointment—defeat snatched from the jaws of victory best and greatest, no thanks to Domitian—to rove in self-imposed, mobile exile. Dramatically undone by powers far beyond his control (viz., imperial chauvinism), he wandered far and wide, drifting at last to this sleepy home away from home where he is now perfectly content. He insists.

  • 11 See, most recently, the stimulating discussion of Peirano Garrison (2020) 236–40 and now the detail (...)
  • 12 ‘Mit solcher Wärme spricht m. W. im gesamten Altertum kein Schulmeister von seinem Beruf wie dieser (...)

6As its first sentences make clear, this tantalizing dialogue fragment positively begs for attention. Like its long-suffering protagonist (and author), it has been hard done by : VOAP, like ‘Florus’ (and Florus), has not received its fair share.11 The dialogue’s (in-effect) theatrical teaser sets the stage by looking back in sublimated anger at its star turn’s eventual stick-to-it-iveness following catastrophic failure, making ends meet by moonlighting as a small-town grammaticus, swearing that it was all worthwhile. All those all-nighters pulled for Literature’s sake may have just missed their shot at imperial glory, but, at painful journey’s end, have managed to secure for our expat poet-prosateur a long-awaited spell of rest, his own piece of DIY heaven. For, seemingly for the first time in Latin literature, a professional teacher is allowed to avow his love of teaching, to affirm its per se virtue (cross his heart).12 Our all-knowing Canon sure took its sweet time. VOAP 3, as we shall see, does indeed sing the praises of lower education like no other extant ancient Latin text, and surely deserves wider recognition for its pleader’s pains. But if this ensuing discussion can help that eloquent and tragically apocopated apologia glimpse the limelight once again, let that not obscure the fact that what leads up to it, and, in fact, the entire orphaned fragment, makes that case too, through its very pose, form, and texture. This it does with far greater style and ambition than any hand-on-heart paean to the nobility of the classroom, as our smooth-talking speaker would be the first to acknowledge.

  • 13 Cf. Schofield’s (2008) 80 discussion of the preface to Div. 2 (possibly composed as a reaction to t (...)

7In this respect, in its capacity to transmute school texts into a fictionalized self-portrait in dialogue, VOAP is something novel. Call it auto-didacto-fiction. This winking conversation piece reassembles a poet-scholar-schoolmaster’s deft tricks of the trade as potted literary autobiography filtered through a mock-epic narrative realism that is unsettlingly fresh, and devilishly tough to parse. Listen closely, notebooks at the ready, and you’ll catch plenty of delightful self-satire, even alongside the shameless bid for validation that is, ultimately, what makes this highly interested interview tick. Yes, our hard-pressed educator may have managed to blaze his own path to financial independence (however precarious), but strategic self-advertising and glib image-cultivation are still the order of the day. Florus’ revealing self-portrait makes us long to know (and read) the precocious, mistreated literary also-ran we never knew we needed. In his tricky bid for a hearing, he accosts us readers in such a way that his dialogue’s mise-en-scène leads us to believe that we should be accosting him. But did this leaflet work, pulling off a successful PR stunt, actually helping to install our sorely missed poet-teacher in the Capital of Letters ? Or did it merely serve to flesh out the salad days of a now established D-list celebrity, justifying and gently bolstering his upgraded literary net worth ? The answer is… yes. The piece’s rhetoric itself—and not merely its fragmentary state—smoothly dodges any such distinction, nicely airbrushing out the time and circumstances of composition.13 Somehow or other, much like VOAP itself, Florus made it—just barely.

1.1 Datiuus otiantis

  • 14 Each of the familiar examples in Herodotus (1.14.2 ἀληθέι δὲ λόγῳ χρεωμένῳ οὐἐστὶ [‘but to tell (...)
  • 15 Laughton (1964) 37 : ‘There is one form of the reciprocal pattern which Cicero made particularly hi (...)
  • 16 Cf. Laughton’s comments on the first sentence of de Orat. (37–8), as well as Leeman and Pinkster (1 (...)
  • 17 This prominent beginning is itself a renovated version of Inv. 1.1 (Saepe et multum hoc mecum cogit (...)

8‘As I was resting and recovering from lucubrating, some people came to me.’ With his opening Capienti mihi in templo <otium> et saucium uigilia caput … recreanti, Florus nods to a deep literary backstory of authoritative syntax marking the commencement of prose dialogue. It is a knowing nod. Cicero, adapting a construction perhaps first developed in Greek historiography, was very likely responsible for giving Latin shape to this particular dative participle of ‘prefacing speaker’, a specific reflex of the datiuus iudicantis (itself a variety of the ‘dative of reference’).14 As the first sentence of De Oratore typifies, a special function of these characterizing verbal forms is to foreground, and broadcast, deep consideration and preparatory thought, and then to pinpoint the idea that is to be programmatic for the ensuing discussion.15 The ‘reciprocal’ relationship between the two is chiseled into an elaborate leading sentence, framing the work to follow and emphatically authorizing its first-person speaker.16 De Oratore is announced (and preemptively justified) as stemming from Cicero’s ongoing contemplation and recollection (Cogitanti mihi saepe numero et memoria uetera repetenti…), not only trumpeting the long-term reflection and research—by necessity squeezed in amid the negotia of a tumultuous public career—that have ultimately led to the written work itself, but also highlighting by contrast the now long-lost otium cum dignitate that the dialogue will wistfully portray.17 ‘To me, Cicero, reflecting and looking back’ is not merely a glib acknowledgment of the sprawling pre-conditions for writing but also functions, by its prominent and programmatic position, as an ever-present activity that will hover over the entire work.

  • 18 As perceptively noted by Rocchi (2020) 53.
  • 19 Brut. 10 : nam cum inambularem in xysto et essem otiosus domi, M. ad me Brutus, ut consueuerat, cum (...)

9There is, then, a fresh irony in Florus’ all too leisurely preliminary conduct, the ‘otiose’ participial actions that are made into the premise for the subsequent verbal exchange.18 While indirectly hyping his tireless nighttime exertions (saucium uigilia caput), VOAP actually opens with its protagonist getting caught napping—but wasting no time to make sure his pupils have done their reading. The precise, learned reference to Cicero of course highlights that this work, too, will amount to an elegant chat about the ‘Orator’, albeit of a different kind (no longer the republican ideal but… Virgil ?). More significantly, Florus has tweaked the construction, concretizing it in a way that is itself programmatic for his quirky self-narration. A framing image of contemplation and idea (together initiating a process that, rather abstractly, results in the written work itself) is here abruptly supplanted by a highly visual portrait of a narrator’s snooze being disturbed by the physical interposition of actual, living persons, to whom he can hardly fail to reply. Dialogue has come and literally imposed itself upon our catnapper, commencing at once. Interruption provokes Florus’ story, his talk. Self-mockery is one effect (though again the siesta has been necessitated by, we are cued to assume, literary lucubration—so the claim to prior reflection and study is still made, if obliquely). But subtle parody of the wooden conventions of Latin dialogue prefaces—Cicero’s above all—must be at play too. Florus’ bathetic concretization of these prefatory moves of Latin rhetorical and philosophical dialogue’s gold standard shows his hero (whimsically) living his literary life.19 Even when Cicero elsewhere employs a more autobiographically ‘realistic’ technique, e.g., in the Brutus, where he kicks off the dialogue proper with a narration of a (typical) visit paid him by Brutus and Atticus while strolling in his personal colonnade, this only happens after an extensive first-person prologue (1–9). Florus instead dispenses with such formalities, collapsing the elaborate prefacing sequence into a moment of everyday park-bench resting.

1.2. On Location

  • 20 [‘Never was a shade ... more sweet.’] G. F. Handel, Serse.

                                                                            Ombra mai fu … soave più.20

  • 21 For Cicero’s bag of prefatory tricks, see Att. 16.6.4 and Schofield (2008) 76–7.
  • 22 Rocchi (2020) presses hard, and plausibly, for the Augustan temple inside Tarraco, rather than a mo (...)
  • 23 Phdr. 230 b2–c5 (Socrates) : τε γὰρ πλάτανος αὕτη μάλ᾽ ἀμφιλαφής τε καὶ ὑψιλή, τοῦ τε ἄγνου τὸ ὕψ (...)
  • 24 For discussions of the locus amoenus, see Curtius (1953) 183–202, Schönbeck (1962), and Haß (1998).
  • 25 An Epicureanizing ( ?) Atticus, scoffing at the marble floors and coffered ceilings of lavish villa (...)
  • 26 Ep. 55.6 : platanona medius riuus et a mari et ab Acherusio lacu receptus euripi modo diuidit [‘A p (...)
  • 27 Ov. Ars 3.385 : gelidissima Virgo ; Seneca psychrolutes used to plunge into its frigid waters, Ep. (...)
  • 28 Fron. Aq. 84.3 ; Ov. Pont. 1.8.36–8 : nunc subit … stagnaque et euripi Virgineusque liquor [‘now th (...)

10Florus’ affected participles cue a particular stance used to animate and pre-condition Latin (Ciceronian) dialogue, one which he at once emulates and sends up, and part of his pointed update, we have begun to see, lies in his immediate activation of his own narrator’s physical situation. Cicero’s ‘reciprocal’ participles float, abstract and theoretical, much like many of the all-purpose prose prefaces themselves, almost awkward in their transferability.21 Florus’, by contrast, locate. Just how specifically placeable he means his virtual self to be (beyond some unnamed temple-precinct in <Tarraco>) surely deserves unpacking.22 But what is clear is that with a mere nod (and a rather declamatory tricolon) he has conjured up a sketchy glimpse of a locus amoenus whose components are noticeably conventional. While the roots of such set-piece descriptions of lush, pleasant places run deep and wide, it is Plato’s stream-side scene-painting (put in the mouth of an enraptured-yet-ironizing Socrates) at the opening of the Phaedrus that ultimately inaugurates Florus’ lazy background. The props are (almost) all there : lovely trees (plurimarum arborum amoenitate ~ the spreading, tall plane and high, shady chaste), cool water (euriporum frigore ~ the chilly, flowing stream), and ?breezy/fresh air (aeris libertate ~ the pleasant airiness).23 Intervening centuries-worth of idyllic, sighing ‘nature’ scenes, and glowing (or scathing) tours of manicured mansion-grounds, elaborated and complicated any act of capturing the ‘nice spot’ in literature.24 Florus populates his field here again with half an eye on Ciceronian (pre-)dialogue, carefully channeling a bit of diction straight from the source : euripusEuripus—having first been used, grouchily, in this sense by Cicero at the opening of De Legibus 2.25 That early disapproval, and later moments such as Seneca’s stopover at the Vatiana (graced with channel uncannily linking sea and Lake Acheron), suggest that Florus is to be seen inhabiting a zone of special detachment, but also thumbing his nose at any knee-jerk censure, since he would expect his young scholars to recall plenty of literary loci gushing with pile-owners’ pride in their own exclusive (tree- and) water-scaping.26 Of course, euripus is often shorthand for The (Roman) Canal, the big trough sloshing through Agrippa’s Baths in the Campus Martius, almost grand enough to challenge the Euboean strait’s stranglehold on eponymity (and inspiring countless backyard imitations).27 So the (self-)exiled master might also prompt his class to remember Ovid’s imagined homecoming visit to Rome’s most restorative water feature.28 Florus, by contrast, now coolly perched, need not return : these derivative rivulets will work just fine, thank you very much.

  • 29 Brut. 10 : cum inambularem in xysto (his in-home portico in Rome, apparently, cf. above) ; cf. Just (...)
  • 30 Admittedly, together with Plutarch’s De E apud Delphos and De defectu oraculorum (412d–413d). See H (...)

11One availing himself of these shady, cool, airy amenities might be expected to stroll, and the garbled opening may indeed conceal a circumstantially ambling narrator, as some editors have suspected. Rejuvenating facilities such as this precinct (templum = temenos) recall other overtly ‘peripatetic’ preambles, such as the Ciceronian xystus.29 The locale envisaged does make a difference, but not necessarily in the way in which commentators have suggested. An early hypothesis posited that Florus here invokes the (suitably arcane) sub-genre of the Tempeldialog, resting upon the sturdily constructed sacro-textual complex of, well… Varro’s De Re Rustica Book 1, which makes a venue out of the temple of Tellus on the Carinae.30 When a fragmentary literary culture as reconstructed by generations of collectionist fanboys comes to comprise only (i.e., nothing but) elements that are, have been, or can be typed or troped, then of course VOAP’s letting slip in templo (+ R.1, with a dash of Plutarch) means that this has to be the tip of some very niche generic iceberg. It quite possibly was. Uncoincidentally, such a nonchalant meme-drop would jibe with the general tenor of this stylish (sample of) narrative dialogue, enacting an outlook, an aesthetic, and even a (fictionalized) lifestyle centered on hitting all the tropological high-notes, making sure this written portrait consists of a connect-the-dots literary patchwork. At any rate, Florus surely was keyed in to far more of such material than (even) ‘we’ are—or at least he would have you think so.

  • 31 Or in order to defend the difficulty of in templo, or indeed to argue for a particular identificati (...)
  • 32 Privileging Florus’ own account (vs. V. Max. 6.3.1 and Livy 2.41.10) of the temple’s foundation, th (...)
  • 33 Indeed, perhaps he was influenced by the local habit (or stereotype) of not taking the Augustan cul (...)

12Even so, the identification of such a potential network behind Florus’ passing phrase is of greater value than its mere capacity to (re-)create a type out of otherwise self-contained instances, or even to help us see a Florus who is nicely prefiguring such a tendency.31 More intriguing indeed is to consider how, as an evoked setting, a provincial (Augustan ?) temple complex, in full principate, might significantly recast the meaning of such a late-republican ‘temple dialogue’ (i.e., as filtered through Varro’s R. 1). The aedes Telluris was (‘once’) a proto-typically antique site bespeaking a sacred vow fulfilled, an awesome earth deity’s wrath propitiated, and Italian conquest validated, all to guarantee the prestige of one plucky mid-republican consul and install his memory ~ permanently in the Roman cityscape ; but, inevitably caught up in the viciously personal turf-wars of first-century power politics (Cic. Har. 31) and finally failing to work as a place of unity and amnesty (Cic. Phil. 1.1, 31), it would go on to host the biding satirico-philosophical banter of Roman Big Ag’s best-connected spokesmen, and end up serving as an earth-shattering metaphor for the very disintegration—despite these knowing traditionalists’ best efforts—of the late-republican polity itself (a result also thereby shaking the shrine’s own claim to represent an idealized Italia).32 Such a setting makes us not forget how much of Roman dialogue itself is instigated by late republican political disintegration, from which it represents a kind of escape (if not, alas, a remedy). Contrarily, by siting his ‘temple’ dialogue in a new kind of sacral space, Florus provides a late-breaking imperial update, and shows he has learned to know better than to rely on such hoary Roman institutions, republican or otherwise. He has struck out on his own, an unaccompanied (and, presumably, uninvited) man of leisure in a satellite temple park very probably built to commemorate the princeps, on the empire’s western edge. He has found a quiet place, and an unexpected way, to move past an ancient backlog of Roman disillusionment.33

1.3. Hail Fellow Well Met

  • 34 Hor. S. 1.9.1–2 [‘I happened to be moseying along the Sacred Way, as I do, mulling over some bit of (...)

                                                      Ibam forte uia sacra, sicut meus est mos,
                                                  nescio quid meditans nugarum, totus in illis34

  • 35 But looking closer, can you trace the tracks of Florus’ migraine (saucium uigilia caput 1.1) : worr (...)
  • 36 accurrit quidam notus mihi nomine tantum | arreptaque manu ‘quid agis, dulcissime rerum ?’ [’somebo (...)
  • 37 The per-rare pereruditus is itself an erudite choice. Florus’ qualified phrasing is reminiscent of (...)

13Unlike Varro’s bleak, end-of-book denouement, Florus’ opening image of calm is suddenly (I say, suddenly, subito 1.1 … subito 1.2) disturbed.35 Instead of arriving on the scene in anticipation of some sweet, sweet otium as Varro and his expectant diners did (albeit with conversation then serving as stopgap for the awaited meal), Florus’ pre-existing leisure is immediately interrupted. Sermones 1.9, especially its first-person opening amble and jolting encounter, is mimicked—and subverted. Instead of a newly minted it-poet’s laid-back routine waylaid and occupied by a clingy, tenacious ‘Pest’ who is desperate to make it too (sound familiar ?), the deus-ex-machina materialization of tossed-aside Florus’ biggest, long-lost fan is a sight for sore eyes he welcomes with open arms.36 Both unnamed ‘someones’ (quidam (pl.) 1.1 ~ quidam S. 1.9.3), with their apparent learning (uir, ut postea apparuit, litteris pereruditus 1.2 ~ ‘docti sumus.’ 1.9.7), waste little time to get prying (‘et quid tu … tam diu in hac prouincia ?’ 1.6 ~ ‘quid agis… ?’ 1.9.4) and are eager to please and support—but only our unsung hero can appreciate a groupie’s genuine fandom.37 Obliging Florace almost literally answers the ‘Bore’s’ politeness-formula request (‘si me ames…’ 1.9.38) and hypothetical offer (haberes | magnum adiutorem 1.9.45–6) : ‘ama … igitur fautorem tuum.’ ‘quidni amem ?’ (1.5). Why wouldn’t he, indeed ? He even descends to the level of the ‘chatterbox’, borrowing his gushing tour guide shtick (2.6–9 ~ cum … uicos, urbem laudaret 1.9.12–3). There follows a warm embrace that bad old fashioned Roman snobbery could never have allowed (in amplexum effunditur … manu alterutrum tenentes 1.5 ~ areptaque manu 1.9.4). By taking back S. 1.9’s meanness, VOAP announces what its literary outcast wouldn’t give to be shadowed by such a lackey.

  • 38 In VOAP 2 ; see my forthcoming related article.
  • 39 Perhaps even a faux-gloomy hint of Cicero’s version of Simonides’ famous epitaph for the fallen at (...)
  • 40 Dido’s re-use is noted by Austin (1963) 103, (1971) 226 ; also used of Aeneas by Dido at 4.10 (addr (...)

14The notion that the narrator’s reputation precedes him is played out in the beginning of this meet cute in other, less overtly auto-fictional ways. We are immediately treated to a mock-epicizing wink which coyly glimpses the backstory of these newest out-of-towners, and forecasts Florus’ own coming ‘Aeneidkin’.38 The Baeticans’ attempts to get home have been archetypically thwarted, an adverse wind driving them off course. The diverting gust’s special origins, both textual (fiddling with Verg. G. 1.444 Notus … sinister) and geographical, are markedly suited to Florus, the star savant from Africa, and moreover, momentarily steal a march on the vagrant hero’s own sea-tossed ramblings (2.1–9). He will reveal that, with eerie recurrence, these strangers are not the first to have gone astray and wash up on this coast (nostrum litus 2.9 (Europa) ~ in hoc litus 1.1). But catch the quirky tone of this nano-epic : excusserat melodramatically conjures up epic-storm castaways (~ A. 1.115 excutitur) out of what may have been a run-of-the-mill weather-related layover (cf. sinister, preposition-less Baeticam). With further epic switching, some of the first words out of the stranger’s mouth sound awfully Virgilian, too, but now re-image him as addressing a wandering hero (hospes … dic ~ dic, hospes A. 1.753, Dido bidding the sidetracked Aeneas tell his story).39 Hospes itself is a term of address specially made for examination by advanced students of Virgilian guest friendship (observed or otherwise) : it is re-used pointedly, and with stinging comment, by Dido to Aeneas at 4.323 ; later, in Pallantium, the designation is first extended by hospitable settlers Evander and Pallas (8.123, 188, 364) to the newly welcomed migrant, and then by Aeneas back to his host (8.532).40 Florus will hint at this (latter) idealized reciprocity when his speaking self echoes it back to the Baetican (uides, hospes 2.4, o hospes et amice 2.7).

  • 41 Quasi is, like, a constant linguistic mannerism of the Epitome, appearing 123 times ! Cf. Florus ad (...)
  • 42 For the former, Peirano Garrison (2020) 237–8 ; Rocchi (2020) 62, for the latter.
  • 43 [‘For this plane tree of yours has reminded me’]
  • 44 [‘I beg you, if it isn’t too much trouble, to show me where your hiding place is.’] nisi molestum e (...)

15 The rest of the stranger’s salutation reveals how such Virgilian templates can be entwined with other embedded voicings as if (quasi) to keep the class on their toes.41 That the erudite newcomer’s squinty recognition of your narrator ‘as through a cloud’ (quasi per nubilum 1.2) invokes not only Aeneas’ divine forcefield of mist shielding him before a big reveal to Dido at Carthage (1.411–2, 516, 586–7), but also his underworld vision of her as the moon seen ‘through clouds’ (per nubila 6.455), will have caught out no one.42 Again, note the switcheroos : it is Florus who is being mistily unveiled to the marooned Baetican, Florus who is visited in his Tarragonese netherworld by the unexpected guest. Yes, but : extra points for picking out other Latin set texts hidden inside the greeting. The sentence is straightforward enough, but observe the ‘rhetorical’ Spaniard’s reference to another opening dialogue memory-jogging, Cicero’s plane tree at the start of De Oratore (nam nescio quid oculi mei admonent ~ nam me haec tua platanus admonuit 1.28)43. His polite ‘if you don’t mind’, ‘if it isn’t any trouble’ (nisi molestum est) is Plautine-colloquial, as well as a markedly Ciceronian (dialogue) gentility, but in Florus’ script it could also contain a wry glance at Catullus’ famously ironic deployment of a very similar politesse formula opening his withering request that Camerius finally reveal his dark hideout, poem 55 (Oramus, si forte non molestum est, | demonstres ubi sint tuae tenebrae 1–2).44 With the subsumption of such a text into this auto-fiction, as with 1.9’s ‘Busybody’, our lurker will hardly conceal his joy if someone would turn up to uncover his shady pad. Well, guess what ?

2. How Could You Miss Me ?

  • 45 Le Guin (2008) 3.

 I know who I was, I can tell you who I may have been, but I am, now, only in this line of words I write.45

3 ‘quid istic ?’ inquam ‘Florum uides, fortasse et audieris, si tamen in illo orbis terrarum conciliabulo sub Domitiano principe crimini nostro adfuisti.’ 4 et Baeticus ‘tune es’ inquit ‘ex Africa, quem summo consensu poposcimus ? inuito quidem Caesare et resistente, non quod tibi puero inuideret, sed ne Africae corona magni Iouis attingeret.’ 5 quae cum me uideret uerecunde agnoscentem, in amplexum effunditur et ‘ama’ inquit ‘igitur fautorem tuum.’ ‘quidni amem ?’ et manu alterutrum tenentes auidissime nascentem amicitiam foederabamus, 6 cum ille interim breui interuallo usus ‘et quid tu’ inquit ‘tam diu in hac prouincia ? nec in nostram Baeticam excurris nec urbem illam reuisis, ubi uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur et in foro omni clarissimus ille de Dacia triumphus exultat ? 7 potesne cum hoc singulari ingenio tantaque natura prouincialem latebram pati ? nihil te caritas urbis, nihil ille <princeps> gentium populus, nihil senatus mouet ? nihil denique lux et fulgor felicis imperi, qui in se rapit atque conuertit omnium oculos hominum ac deorum ?’

‘Come on’, I said, ‘FLORVS—you’re looking at him, perhaps you heard him too, in case in that World Championship gathering under Emperor Domitian you were on hand for our ‘transgression’.’ Said the Baetican, ‘You’re the one from Africa, the one we acclaimed in unqualified unison ? Caesar was having none of it and demurred—no, not because he envied you as a whiz-kid, but to prevent Great Jupiter’s crown from being awarded to Africa.’ When he saw me acknowledging all this with due modesty, he embraced me and said, ‘Well, bring it in for a fan !’ ‘Why shouldn’t I ?’ [winks] and clasping hands we were pledging our eagerly growing friendship, when, after a pause, he said, ‘Why stay so long in this province ? Why not duck out to our Baetica, or head back to The City, where your verses are chanted by readers and where in every forum that most renowned triumph over Dacia is being feted ? Can you, with that unique talent of yours and such a natural gift, endure a provincial hideout ? Doesn’t affection for the city, the foremost people of the world, and the senate affect you at all ? Doesn’t the light and blaze of our prosperous world-order, which seizes and turns all human and divine eyes to gaze upon it ?’

  • 46 Quid istic ? only in Plautus and Terence ; otherwise carefully deployed by Seneca (Ep. 17.11, to ma (...)
  • 47 Thrice in Adelphoe (133, 350, 969), a teaching text which Florus likely would have had occasion to (...)

16‘Oh, alright’, says Florus (,) he says, ‘Very well then.’ (quid istic ?) If you insist. The man himself’s first stated words are a markedly ‘colloquial’ Plautine-Terentian shrug of concessive acquiescence, pretending not to leap at the Baetican deuteragonist’s (supposedly) innocent request that this shadowy fictionalized persona produce some ID (and pose for the photo-op).46 But the pre-reply does not merely archaize, making his talking self first open his mouth to speak in lettered Republican. The gently swaggering shrug (approximately : ¯\_()_/¯ ) also registers that the literary stylization of everyday street-talk goes back to earliest written Latin, so even in this respect Florus will be looking back to go forward, rather as the autofictional profile itself. Though with his utterance here now, he turns ‘(archaic) literary’ back into contemporary colloquial, a chatty reply that only works (for the Baetican, and for readers) if you know your Terentian idioms.47

  • 48 Hist. 2.112 survives as a quotation of Aemilius Asper (uetuste ‘obuiam fuere’, Char. Gramm. =G.L. 1 (...)
  • 49 Likewise a signature feature of the Epitome, as at 1.18.15 (Sardiniam adnexamque Corsicam transit), (...)

17This (once-colloquial) literary archaism replayed as the latest in arch hipster-scholar-talk is, we have begun to see, a recurring feature of Florus’ manner of speaking. There were glimpses in his opening scene-setting, tweaks that already challenged a reader to watch the style of this lecturer on literary style with a sharp eye. The fortuitous guests themselves ‘fell in with’ (obuiam … fuere) Florus as he was collecting himself, catching him and us off guard with a construction of obuiam + esse rather than the usual verb of motion. Here, again, he tips his hand with a telling archaism, but one that was itself already used for powerful stylization. E.g., Sallust, doubtless one of Florus’ authors, deployed the phrase with archaizing point, part of his project of employing good old Latinity to construct a new understanding of how life—political rather than personal—might still be lived worthily after dramatic sidelining.48 As we already saw, the visitors’ return ‘Baetica-ward’ (Baeticam without prep.) is a similarly stylized edit that elevates, almost abstracts their trying nostos (however tedious) into a blip of marked poetic usage—whether already ‘archaic literary-colloquial’, or being newly put to such a use here, is difficult to tell. This propensity re-surfaces when Florus’ own ‘Florus’ peppers his travel yarn (2) with such stilted tics, telling, for example, of his return ‘Italy-ward’ (Italiam redii 2.3). In what remains, Florus the first-person narrator and Florus the speaking role defy picking apart.49

  • 50 Each ancient writer posits an ellipsis : remoramur (Donatus 171.4), uerba facimus (Priscian).
  • 51 On (esp. Ovidian) si tamen and si quidem, see Schmalz (1909).
  • 52 [‘at their festivals and councils, when he had them crowded together in groves’].
  • 53 Cf. Tacitus on Domitian’s cruel and shameless surveillance (Ag. 45.2) : praecipua sub Domitiano mis (...)

18Yes, it’s ‘Florus’ you see. The reply is certainly a sphragis, but an artfully oblique one, literalizing (with wry realism) the inevitable function of such a seal : writing purporting to guarantee presence, and to constitute an individual identity. Now you see him. Tellingly, Florus right away contrasts this here-and-now vision of himself and his lively inter-personal communication with his erstwhile public performance (fortasse et audieris), when the successful reception of his poetic messages was arbitrarily short-circuited by Domitian. The present reunion playfully emends that rude interruption with a corrective supplement, completing the—in Florus’ account, all-but-certain—authorizing process which victory in the Capitoline games would have underwritten, validating him as a bona fide literary figure with a healthy following ( 1, putting aside the latter’s assertion of a wide Roman popularity). Quid istic ? therefore also reads as a fitting response to this long-delayed recognition, something like : ‘What are we waiting for ? It’s about time.’ And since the meaning of this phrase of republican Latin lies somewhere between a concession (Don. Ter. Eun. 388.1) and an affirmative (Prisc. G.L. 3.85.9­–11), Florus very slightly pretends he does not wish for his two selves to be rejoined here at last, finally sidestepping the obstacle posed by imperial kibosh and rerouting the path to approval through private dialogue (yes, and teaching).50 Hear him (already) inflate the terms of that now surely half-forgotten show of yesteryear. The limiting si tamen (~ Ovidian = si quidem), and the hint of a contradiction between fortasse and illo orbis terrarum conciliabulo, carry a strong whiff of mock-modesty.51 Florus’ use of that (very Livian) noun conciliabulum, with orbis terrarum, envisions a global assembly (~ festis diebus et conciliabulis, cum frequentissimos in lucis haberet [Vercingetorix gathering the rebel hordes] Epit. 1.45.21).52 The Baeticus will of course follow suit, corroborating with further detail about how Florus brought down the house (summo consensu poposcimus, an acclaim he says has lasted : uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur). But it is Florus’ bitterly loaded crimini nostro, tucked in just after the ominous sub Domitiano principe, that prompts his interlocutor (and readers) to pick up tragic, Ovidian-exilic vibes.53 The ambiguity of nostro (subjective or objective) is striking, and probably deliberate. Whether the term suggests, sarcastically, that Florus’ popularity was felt by the emperor to be an affront (lyric virtuosity as maiestas), or directly labels his loss of prize as a crime, the crammed-in backstory tells of a long-nursed grievance, eager for sympathetic ears. The artifice of si tamen … adfuisti (Florus, just what are the odds… ?) likewise makes clear that this is the moment our leading man has long been waiting for : his personal gratification.

  • 54 At populum uides 2.7, Florus shows off his newly adopted community in language that identifies him (...)
  • 55 [‘He said, “Are you him, are you that Martial, whose naughty gibes everyone knows who doesn’t have (...)
  • 56 [‘I replied : “Because I’m a bad poet.”’].
  • 57 Jal (1967) 117 adduces Poscimur (well supported and in, e.g., Pomp. Porph., instead the now more wi (...)

19But as the ensuing life story will demonstrate, Florus’ self-portrait is auto-textual, his narrative realism’s ‘characterization’ taking shape out of a variegated mass of glinting literary shards. Virgil inevitably flickers into view. Florus’ initial signature (Florum uides), responding to the Baetican’s clouded sight, is abrupt and unusual for Latin prose, and may evoke a disguised Venus, introducing the recent, wandering arrival to a strange, new literary landscape (Punica regna uides A. 1.338), or even Achates, reassuring his fellow-traveler that he can really believe his eyes (omnia tuta uides A. 1.583).54 The Baetican’s tune es … quem … ? sounds Plautine (Rud. 1055) or Ciceronian (Dom. 4) enough, but most likely subsumes Virgilian Dido’s awed reply following Aeneas’ dramatic defogging (tune ille Aeneas quem … ? A. 1.617). Such a highly indirect comparison subtly, and ironically, epicizes our humble protagonist. But a key scene of literary self-portraiture, Martial’s send up of poetic fame (his own, at least) also sneaks into the Baetican’s lightbulb moment. 6.82 depicts the careful but demeaning inspection the epigrammatist received from a certain ‘somebody’ (Quidam 1 ~ quidam 1.1 [pl.]), who promptly tags him as the celebrity versifier (‘tune es, tune’ ait ‘ille Martialis, | cuius nequitias iocosque nouit | aurem qui modo non habet Batauam ?’ 4­–6)—but then sneeringly asks why his clothes are so shabby (‘cur ergo’ inquit ‘habes malas lacernas ?’ 9).55 Once again, whereas Martial’s eccentric authority is such that he can comfortably spoof his own poetic stature (respondi : ‘quia sum malus poeta.’ 10), Florus here mainly self-deprecates through highly oblique mock-heroism, keeping a very tight grip on what little shade the stranger is allowed to throw (barely at 1.6, 1.7, 3.2) on this bard he otherwise only praises to the stars.56 E.g., the traveler’s quasi-Ciceronian summo consensu lends a throwback civic tinge to a particularly poetic usage of poscimus (not only ‘whom we demanded’, but nearly ‘whom we begged for poetry’, ‘to whom we cried, “sing us a song, you’re the piano man”’ ~ Hor. Carm. 1.32.1) : a politico-lyric nostalgia.57 This, the Virgilian epic likenesses, and the culminating demand for respect in the Martial selfie (the poem’s ironic bottom line was a plea for better duds, 11–12) all highlight Florus’ deeply rooted bid for serious appreciation.

  • 58 A similar image of the ‘foot-dragging tyrant’ recurs in Tacitus (Ann. 5.4 principe inuito, 13.1 inu (...)
  • 59 The murky modern notion of Florus’ ‘Africitas’ arguably furthered the exclusion Domitian is describ (...)
  • 60 Inuidia and cruel fate : Aeneas’ cry upon seeing the dead Pallas (‘tene,’ inquit ‘miserande puer, c (...)
  • 61 V. Max. 4.1.5.
  • 62 Ibid. : Fabius uero Maximus, cum a se quinquies et a patre, auo, proauo maioribusque suis saepe num (...)
  • 63 Cf. Livian Perioch. 107, on Caesar’s ability to stand for consulship in absentia passed with Cato d (...)
  • 64 For the jingle inuito … inuideret, compare Seneca on Scaevola : donec Porsina cuius poenae fauebat (...)

20Domitian wouldn’t have it.58 Nefarious metonymy (tune es … ex Africa > Africae) says, Africa won’t have the crown.59 Florus, and hopefully his pupils, would have been well-versed in the rich history of poetic inuidia and its programmatics, but for him even to broach the issue of an emperor’s literary( ?) envy—in the Baetican’s mouth, with protesting-too-much denial—shows a bookish kind of chutzpah, ensuing regime change aside. Updating Callimachean (et aliorum) phthonos for an unsettlingly harsh imperial reality, but then slickly sidestepping it with some ex-post-facto, plausibly deniable sass, is a bold literary conceit. ‘Dictators gonna hate…’ Some Aeneid moments may underly the nexus of inuidia and a desired outcome thwarted by some higher power in the sequence tune… ? non quod tibi puero inuideret, sed ne Africae corona magni Iouis attingeret, and Virgil also may also have furnished some catchy models for transcending envy.60 But the Baetican’s compressed account of how Florus’ performance ultimately went down (in flames) draws more directly on a different, republican exemplum. Domitian’s intervention is an autocratic perversion of the great Fabius Maximus’ humble act of stepping in to bid the people not to proceed with his son’s consulship (duly elected by universal consent, summo consensu), not because he didn’t trust in his son’s abilities, but to give other noble houses a chance (‘lest the highest power be maintained in a single family’).61 The undergirding of that sentence of Valerius Maximus suggests it is one Florus read with special care.62 Might he have used the passage for some sententious lessons de moderatione (V. Max. 4.1) ? Here in the litteratus’ mouth at any rate, this is precisely not the particular virtue exhibited by Domitian and, however we choose to read the voicing in Florus’ adaptation, the implicit commentary it offers on the changed role of inuidia in the public sphere encapsulates a familiar dig at post-republican political devolution. A comparable vindication of the old popular ways can be sussed out of inuito quidem Caesare et resistente. Leaning on Florus’ own Epitome as portfolio throws up an analogous republican example, of the senate resisting the creation of the tribunate (~ quamuis inuito senatui Epit. 1.17).63 In each case, this background texture of a distantly idealized republican past sets Domitian’s grudging intervention in even sharper relief.64

  • 65 See Kaster (1980) on uerecundia, as noted by Peirano Garrison (2020) 239. An ancient commentator’s (...)
  • 66 ‘ama … igitur fautorem tuum.’ ‘quidni amem ?’ 1.5 ~ neque enim cuiquam tam clarum statim ingenium [ (...)
  • 67 [‘One mustn’t flee love, for the truest friendship is born from it’]. Only the participle foederatu (...)

21To hear Florus ‘speaking Virgil’ to the Baetican ‘playing (~ Ciceronian) rhetorician’ is an appealing template given their probable sides in the subsequent, lost debate, but the textual mélange simply does not obey character bounds. They (both) speak the words of both poets and orators, rather like VOAP’s final answer to its title’s either/or question must have been ‘Both.’ Florus’ modest acknowledgment of the stranger’s account of his defeat might invoke Aeneas tearfully recognizing his city’s downfall in sculptured relief (uerecunde agnoscentem 1.5 ~ agnoscit lacrimans A. 1.470), and his description of their affectionate embrace could again recall Pallas’ warm salute of outsider Aeneas (in amplexum effunditur … manu alterutrum tenentes 1.5 ~ excepitque manu dextramque amplexus inhaesit A. 8.124). But so much else sounds variously prosaic. Verecunde pointedly conjures up the shame-bound grammaticosphere (its uerecundia itself an Aeneid outgrowth), and that literary-scholastic discourse may also hint at the more hard-boiled stakes of this newly developing ‘friendship’.65 Florus’ readiness to receive a supporter—just like the workings of VOAP itself—displays awareness of the advice summed up by Pliny that, without a promotor (fautor), a young (oratorical) talent cannot break out.66 The ‘growing association’ he and his interlocutor proceed to seal (nascentem amicitiam 1.5) is virtually unparalleled, save in a barely comparable ‘false enthymeme’ quoted in the Rhetorica ad Herennium (~ amor fugiendus non est : nam ex eo uerissima nascitur amicitia 2.35 ; cf. Arist. Rh. 2.24.5), and bookish foederare is a Latin first here.67 Florus’ vivid interim breui interuallo sounds vaguely Tullian (~ interim breui tempore Cic. Clu. 24), but also transforms handbook-jargon into narrative fiction, for he has the Baetican adapt rhetorical precepts with a well-timed pause before launching his declamatory interrogation, 1.6–7 (breui interuallo usus 1.6 ~ interuallis longioribus uti conuenit Rhet. Her. 3.21 ; cf. crebris interuallis … oportet uti, 24), also marking the seam between warm-up chitchat and longer-winded speechifying.

  • 68 ubi uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur 1.6 ~ Plin. Ep. 2.10.3 enotuerunt quidam tui uersus, et inu (...)
  • 69 ubi uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur 1.6 ~ sed meus in Geticis ad Martia signa pruinis | a rigid (...)
  • 70 clarissimus ille … triumphus 1.6 ~ e.g., clarissimos triumphos Plin. Pan. 89 ; triumpho … omnium cl (...)
  • 71 singulari ingenio 1.7 ~ Ver. 2.4.87 (systematically condemning Verres requires remarkable talent wh (...)
  • 72 nec urbam illam reuisis 1.6 ~ aut etiam properans urbem petit atque reuisit Lucr. 3.1067 [‘or even (...)
  • 73 [‘Fondness for their hosts and for the city held many in Rome’] Triumphalism (mostly nostalgic repu (...)
  • 74 The Livian parallel also supports Rocchi’s ‘l’affetto per l’Urbe’ rather than Jal’s ‘l’amour que te (...)
  • 75 nihil … nihil … nihil … ? nihil denique … ? ~ Cic. Catil. 1 (6 nihils), V. Max. 3.7.1a (4) ; with c (...)

22Despite this blurring of style and register, the Baetic supporter’s cross-examination becomes (for the first time in VOAP) more directly oratorical, thereby disguising its underlying function as a strategic form of self-defense. It is an exasperated mini-harangue in disguise, designed to pull at the reader’s heart strings, which Florus will later allow his ‘Florus’ first to corroborate (1.8–9, 2.1–4), and then to revise (2.5–9, 3.3–8). A hodgepodge of references, or deep influences, are here beneath the pleader’s surface, passages Florus reads and redirects towards his very singular autobiography : Plautine impatient colloquialism (quid … tam diu … ? ~ Plaut. Cas. 804, Mos. 787, Rud. 440, Truc. 335, Ter. Ph. 572), mirroring his own opening quid istic ? Self-pity for his reclusive (auto-)exile, reminiscent of another poet who ended up heading for the (Tarragonese) hills—after Domitian’s downfall—and next to whom Florus’ flight now looks to have been preemptive (in hac prouincia 1.6, in prouincialem latebram 1.7 ~ in hac prouinciali solitudine Mart. 12 praef. 1) ; more subsumed advice from Pliny, this time about the hazards of lurking for too long (a reticent Octavius is urged to bring his verses out of the shadows and publish, since some are already in the public realm) ;68 then Martial’s poignant, implicitly pushy, lament that, despite his worldwide fans (e.g., ‘Britain is said to sing my verses’), he is left scrambling for support following regime change (11.3) ;69 the glimpse of the exultant, panegyric mode invoked by ‘that most illustrious’ Dacian triumph, catching Florus in a daydream of court poet service, or at least granting him a chance to bask at last in someone’s success ;70 the unmistakably Ciceronian rhetoric of the ‘one of a kind’, the ‘force of nature’, pinned specifically to literary talent, which yet again Florus makes himself be seen to possess.71 By contrast, there is even a preview of the quasi-Epicurean contentment that Florus will claim (2.5) at last to have achieved, after so much idle roving, by staying put.72 And while caritas urbis (1.7) heads off a heap of images of triumphalist grandeur, it also recalls Livy on the affection felt for their host city by the Etruscan refugees who decide to settle permanently in Rome (multos Romae hospitum urbisque caritas tenuit 2.14.9).73 Each author’s urbis is of course one and the same (the one and only), but, as Florus quietly asserts, that Vrbs missed its chance to keep him, so the phrase can also thoughtfully presage his growing attachment to his newly adopted ciudad.74 All told then, we must hear, emerging out of such a texture, the Spaniard’s direct queries as ultimately rhetorical questions delivered by Florus himself (ego for tu, as if a kind of dubitatio/διαπόρησις). Indeed—and with such a run of clinching nihils—how could this barely disguised pep talk not voice the dream Florus could never possibly give up ?75

3. Wounded, Walking : VOAP Opera

  • 76 Fugazi, ‘Recap Modotti’ (End Hits, 1997).

                                                                                                        Alien
                                                                         you find you feel at home
                                                                                             everywhere
                                                                                            you’ll get by
                                                              with so much less than anyone76

8 ad quae ego uarie perturbatus ‘quid nunc uis ego respondeam, o quisquis es ? mihi quoque ipsi hoc idem mirum uideri solet, quod non Romae morer ; sed nihil est difficilius quam rationem reddere actus tui. quare desine me in memoriam priorem reducendo uulnus dolorum meorum rescindere. propitia sit illa ciuitas et fruantur illa quibus fortuna permittit. 9 quod ad me pertinet, ex illo die, cuius [quo] tu mihi testis es, postquam ereptam manibus et capiti coronam meo uidi, tota mens, totus animus resiliit atque abhorruit ab illa ciuitate, adeoque sum percussus et consternatus illo dolore, ut patriae quoque meae oblitus <et> parentum carissimorum similis furenti huc et illuc uager per diuersa terrarum.’ et ille ‘quae tamen loca quasue regiones peragrasti ?’

My diversely distraught answer : ‘Now what would you have me reply, O what’s-your-name ? To me, myself, and I, too, this very thing tends to seem wondrous strange, my Rome-lessness ; but nothing is harder than rendering a full account of your performance. Wherefore quit making me look back, splitting open my woes’ wound. Be The City gracious to them, and may they enjoy Her, the lucky ones ! In re me, ever since that day to which you bear witness, after I saw the crown yanked from my hands and head, my whole mind, my whole spirit recoiled and shrank from that city, and I was stricken and laid low by that pain, so much so that, forgetting both my own country and dearest kin, lunatic-like I wandered hither and yon all o’er the earth.’ Said he : ‘But what places and what regions did you rove through ?’

  • 77 uarie perturbatus 1.8 ~ Varie sum adfectus tuis litteris, ualde priore pagina perturbatus [‘I have (...)
  • 78 Ad quae (for atque) is Rossbach’s correction, followed by Malcovati (1972) and defended by Axelson (...)
  • 79 E.g., ad Aen. 2.331 (Panthus), 4.367 (Dido), 4.674 (Anna) 10.515 (Aeneas).
  • 80 [‘Thus throughout the whole army joy, sadness, grief, and happiness were felt in various ways.’ ; ‘ (...)
  • 81 Cf. Livy’s recurring use of uarie animos adficere/uarie animi adfecti sunt etc. for groups.
  • 82 E.g., sin uarie fit … satietatem uitare poterit [‘but if it is handled with variation ... it will b (...)

23Florus takes the bait (i.e., his own). His Baetic tirade has rekindled old pain and lets him begin laying out his case, first itemizing his grievances. His (narrated) reaction, modeling Cicero and Pliny in letters, sounds as if he has just received some very bad news.77 This is self-correspondence back and forth, masked as real, interpersonal dialogue.78 Consider uarie : it’s complicated. Yes, this is, mainly, distress expressed ‘in various ways’, ‘changeably’, during the course of Florus’ spoken response (1.8–9), and presumably also already felt during the stranger’s barrage of revealing questions that hit so close to home (1.6–7). Servius’ comments on style reflecting a speaker’s ‘disturbed’ (perturbatus/a etc.) state suggest that here too Florus is transforming a scholarly culture of (Aeneid) interpretation into (auto-)fiction.79 Yet two powerful moments of adverbially ‘various’ responses to moments of crisis that work to underline multiplicity, or lack of coherence, within a purported collective unity are simply too unforgettable to rule out as background noise. They too must be a part of our pixelated picture of ‘Florus’. The eerily decrescendo aftermath of civicidal victory/defeat (not) ending Sallust’s Catiline’s War (ita uarie per omnem exercitum laetitia maeror luctus atque gaudia agitabantur 61.9), and the varied reaction to Silanus’ (50.4) and Caesar’s (51) proposals in the fractured senate debate about what to do with the detained insurrectionists, how to process this near-lethal blow to ‘Roman identity’ (ceteri uerbo alius alii uarie adsentiebantur 52.1), together evoke grave distress (at least).80 But of course, this is a usage for a plural subject, distinct from Florus’ snapshot of what he alone is going through.81 And yet, we have already begun to see how composite a script this is. So, given moreover the particular rhetorical valence of uarie elsewhere (~ ‘in multiform style’, ‘ringing the changes’), Florus is also labelling a highly agitated delivery that itself contains discursive multitudes.82 Here his ‘many-sided disturbance’ bespeaks his sundry voices and tones (and texts).

  • 83 Inst. 9.2.19 : adfert aliquam fidem ueritatis et dubitatio, cum simulamus quaerere nos unde incipie (...)
  • 84 ~ quid ad haec respondeam ? Cic. Tul. 54, quid ego nunc tibi argumentis respondeam … ? Asc. Corn. 6 (...)
  • 85 A Virgil instructor would know not to stop there : 1.387 (Venus addressing Aeneas—of course she kno (...)
  • 86 [‘Whoever you are, do not open up again my charges [wounds]’].
  • 87 [‘O whoever you are, whom I have just made my devil’s advocate’]

24Florus even begins his first oratiuncula with a miniature, intimate dubitatio (quid nunc uis ego respondeam ?), as if applying Quintilian’s precepts thereon to fictional plausibility.83 His abrupt opening repurposes familiar Ciceronian formulas, typically used to answer a (mis)representation of an opposing side.84 That subtle artificiality becomes more overt with the wry address (o quisquis es) that practically admits the game is up. More typical Plautine colloquialism (quisquis es Plaut. passim), and/or an evocation of, again, Pallas to Aeneas (o quicumque es Verg. A. 8.122), even Aeneas, barely pretending not to recognize a barely disguised mom (o quam te memorem, uirgo ? 1.327) ?85 And, yes, Ovid’s much more aggrieved voicing in Tristia 3.11 must be recalled (Quisquis es 1 [vel Si quis es], quisquis is es 56, quicumque es, rescindere crimina [v.l. uulnera] noli 63 ~ uulnus dolorum meorum rescindere 1.8).86 Florus uarius seems to accommodate all of these, but a wry Persius (1.44) must be the ‘real’ model (quisquis es, o modo quem ex aduerso dicere feci) : that poetic conceit—the speaker mockingly calling out, in passing, the familiar satiric convention of the imaginary interlocutor, his aduersarius—has here been made to take fictional shape within VOAP’s fleshed-out narrative world (where actual characters engage in extended dialogue).87 With this hat tip, Florus archly acknowledges that this sermo, too, is just him talking to himself.

  • 88 Elsewhere only at Fam. 3.11.2 ; cf. Paulus’ speech at Liv. 45.41.6 (mihi quoque ipsi nimia iam fort (...)
  • 89 Another hint of Florus reading up on what leaving Rome (or not) looks like in canonical Latin : quo (...)
  • 90 1.15.5 : sed animus idem qui semper infixus in patriae caritate [~ caritas urbis 1.7] discessum ab (...)

25Florus of course can’t help but agree with his conversational partner : he ‘too’ has found it odd that he couldn’t grin and bear the metropolis. The whole construction (mihi (quidem) mirum uideri solet 1.8) is straight outta Arpinum (~ Caec. 67, Mur. 27, Rep. 1.11 [with quod], 5.7 [permirum]), and the emphatic mihi quoque ipsi evokes a confessional (or challenging ?) Cicero admitting to Brutus that he too thought he should leave town (~ mihi quoque ipsi esse excedendum putaui ad Brut. 1.15.5) after Antony’s rise following the Ides—but he was driven back by the South Wind (i.e., destiny).88 Unlike Cicero, Florus could be no civic hero, at least in this way, at this early stage of his development.89 Yet some of the points the Baetican brings up—and so must be thought to have been on Florus’ textual horizon—did in fact bring Cicero back : i.e., not just adverse winds, but devotion to Rome, or an urge to show it.90 Florus has devised an elaborately indirect means of justifying his absence, perhaps in order at last to put an end to it (and, with VOAP, triumphantly return ?).

  • 91 [‘and in fact just as it is right for him to give an account of his action’].
  • 92 Recast, with comparable abuse, by Martial : 1.41.14 (’So stop imagining you’re urbanus, Caecilius, (...)
  • 93 Summing up : quare, quid possit mea Cynthia, desine, Galle | quaerere : non impune illa rogata ueni (...)
  • 94 ‘How not to lose your audience’ : tum autem [sc. oportebit], id quod difficilius est [~ nihil est d (...)
  • 95 On the passage, see Di Giovine (2020) : 60, part of a discussion of images of wounding in Ovid’s ex (...)
  • 96 uulnus meorum dolorum rescindere 1.8 ~ rescisso uulnere Plin. Ep. 7.19.9 (Fannia’s death will feel (...)
  • 97 As Florus himself knew, settling on similar phrasing (Epit. 2.11.4) for a post-Sullan Roman state t (...)
  • 98 Florus lingers on the mythologized suicide, with lurid detail, at Epit. 2.13.71–2.
  • 99 [‘Unspeakable, queen, is the pain you ask me to revive’]. It isn’t close verbally, but must underly (...)
  • 100 A leave-taking formula typically addressed to a deity (cf. Cicero’s playful dig at Epicureanism—qui (...)

26As Florus prepares his case, he is forced to remember pain—and quietly makes light of it, chuckling that his tale would ever be of any consequence. He continues to clear his throat as he takes up his subject, getting gnomic (nihil est difficilius ~ Cic. Or. 70, Nat. 2.45, [nihil difficilius] Amic. 33 ; [Quint.] Mai. 2.15) as he lays out his account (rationem reddere), striking a pose oratorical (Cic. Rab. 1, Cluent. 106), or rhetorical (Quint. Inst. 7.1.7), or perhaps aiming for vaguely legalistic (~ et sane sicut aequum est ipsum actus sui rationem reddere Dig. 3.5.2).91 Beware, as ever, of writing off a sententia, and this one packs a punch, boiling down and emblematizing the essential challenge that is Florus’ autofiction. He feigns not wishing to go on, pulling his sententious posturing up short with a colloquial imperative (‘so quit it !’) that could well be timeless, and/or good-old Plautine-Terentian, but most memorably recalls Catullus, summarily bidding Aurelius to lay off, or else … (21.12).92 That poem’s threatening tirade hurls far ruder terms than Florus could possibly be invoking here, but, playful as the whole act is, the slight jolt glimpses his rueful twinge of pain, and then already warns of new bruising, quasi-elegiacally, just like Propertius urging Gallus to steer clear of Cynthia (1.5.31–2).93 Such suffering must belong to the poet (no one else). Florus’ Baeticus has found his way to his sore spot, the not-so-deep-seated trauma of VOAP. His oratorial refreshing of Florus’ memory (me in memoriam priorem reducendo 1.8) sounds like a rhetorician’s top tips for persuasion, but casting the mind back can summon up real grief.94 Of course, as in elegy, limning the pain is the pleasure of the script, even if Florus is doing mock-elegy : implicitly likening his (non-)career cut short by self-exile to Ovid of the Tristia (~ ergo quicumque es, rescindere crimina [v. l. uulnera] noli Tr. 3.11.63) is certainly a stretch.95 Still, opening closed wounds is painful96 ; risky ;97 and betokens super-human bravery : Cato himself was the ultimate Roman (self-inflicted) gash-reopener (rescidit plagas Epit. 2.13.72).98 Archly magnifying his own petty miseries is Florus’ game. Above all, he even dares to compare his ensuing account to Aeneas’ (Infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem Aen. 2.3).99 And then his intricately composed, no-hard-feelings prayer wishing Rome, and its winners, all the best (propitia sit illa ciuitas et fruantur illa quibus fortuna permittit 1.8) ever so slightly evokes Cicero’s moodiness as he begins to come to terms with a new status as political benchwarmer (~ patria propitia sit … Cic. Att. 2.9.3).100 Florus the beleaguered statesman who gave his best. All part of the joke. No, seriously.

  • 101 This transitional formula (often with quidem) is at home in [Quint.] (Min. 295.2, 314.16, 321.16, 3 (...)
  • 102 Rocchi (2020) 27 rightly records ‘un impiego sovrabbondante dell’enfatico ille’ in his overview of (...)
  • 103 ~ atque ex illo die recordamini eius usque ad Idus Martias consulatum Phil. 2.82 [‘And remember his (...)
  • 104 [‘You yourself are my witness of late in Libyan waters...’].
  • 105 Fam. 12.13.1 : ut haec nouissima nostra facta non subita nec conuenientia sed similia illis cogitat (...)
  • 106 Never to be underestimated ; see, e.g., recently, Lendon (2022).

27Putting aside Rome ( !), quod ad me pertinet (‘as for my part’, ‘as far as I’m concerned’, 1.9) has Florus further warming to his declamatory role, ready to expatiate on himself (even more, working up to §2, his Aen. 2–3).101 That fateful day, this faithful witness, a violent shock, breakdown, desperate flight. Hysterical comparisons pump up the terms and stakes of the Fall of Florus, at once allowing him to laugh it off (and you to laugh at him), but never denying its devastating effect. Continuing his strikingly insistent use of demonstratives for the certain items that really matter, a colloquial technique of quietly insisting that no one could ever assume otherwise (the games : illo … conciliabulo 1.3 ; Rome : urbem illam 1.6, illa ciuitas et … illa 1.8, ab illa ciuitate 1.9 ; Romans : ille … populus 1.7 ; the triumph : clarissimus ille … triumphus), he underscores that day (ex illo die 1.9), as if it too had the same universal significance as the others (cf. illo dolore 1.9).102 He could have stolen a page from a trenchant Cicero, insisting that his readers could never forget that infamous moment, Antony’s notorious consulship.103 And lingering doubts ? Florus has a witness : this here (straw) Spanish man. He is in this gesture once again channeling both Virgil and Cicero. To her third-party witness, Neptune, Venus bemoans Juno’s unjust and inexplicable wrath against her innocent victims (cuius tu mihi testis es 1.9 ~ ipse mihi nuper Libycis tu testis in undis A. 5.789).104 The Baetican saw it all, the high-handed incursion into his sphere (literary appreciation ? poetry-performance-spectating ? talent-spotting ?). But then Cicero’s familiar wording to Atticus, when invoking the latter as witness to his well-known attempts to recover from his grief for Tullia (tu testis es Att. 12.14.3,), or to his famous displeasure at how the conspirators set up on the Capitoline after the Ides (tu testis es Att. 14.14.2), attest a particular model for Florus to follow : a sounding board, even a constructed foil (in effect), there to retail grievances to. He might also have come across a humbler, but relevant, tone in the significant letter from the young conspirator Cassius (Parmensis) Cicero, penning an elaborate plea for Cicero to support his career and promote his achievements (i.e., in the assassination), mock-humbly downplaying his talents : being under tyranny makes for a decent excuse !105 Nothing quite like griping about autocracy (real and/or imagined) to bond born-free Romans.106

  • 107 Manibus et capiti ereptam : in Cic. and elsewhere in prose nearly always with e (or de) manibus (th (...)
  • 108 [‘I have been deeply troubled to see that a most decisive and deserved triumph has been stripped fr (...)
  • 109 To Tiro, 44 : tantum enim mihi dolorem cruciatumque attulerunt errata aetatis meae ut non solum ani (...)
  • 110 Son Engaged in Oedipal Acts : Nearly Whacked by Hurt Hubby. Cf. Serv. Aen. 11.85 quasi qui constern (...)
  • 111 [‘Therefore let us keep back from fortune as much as we can.’].
  • 112 [‘and their puffed-up necks recoiled from the yoke that was lately imposed on them’].
  • 113 [‘surely forgetting your fatherland and father Latinus’ ; ‘“Go off to your betrothed, with your unt (...)
  • 114 Epit. 2.21.3 : sed patriae, nominis, togae, fascium oblitus totus in monstrum illud ut mente, ita h (...)
  • 115 ~ Cic. Div. 2.80, on the absurdity of auspicy, an art based on the inconstant motions of birds : qu (...)
  • 116 For furenti similis Seneca Her. F. 1009 (of Megara fleeing the (madly) slaughtering Hercules), Phoe (...)
  • 117 Eussner (1888) 81. Perhaps even Hercules : ecce furens … huc ora ferebat et illuc [‘there he was, r (...)
  • 118 Peragrare is at home in Cicero and Livy, and programmatic in Lucretius (auia Pieridum peragro loca (...)

28The particular tyrannical exercise to which Florus fell victim he distills into a graphic, physical act, with stylistic flourish (ereptam … coronam in vivid hyperbaton). The marked expression (ereptam manibus et capiti), more typically used of recovering something for its rightful owner, and the emphatic uidi, here applied to a metaphorical act, both reveal the artificiality of Florus’ account.107 He is invoking, with a bit of dark humor, a rich image-repertoire of grasping rapine by ‘tyrants’, or greedy others. Compare Cicero straining to convey outrage at Appius Claudius being stripped of a triumph by jealous enemies (illud plane moleste tuli, quod certissimum et iustissimum triumphum hoc inuidorum consilio esse tibi ereptum uidebam Fam. 3.10.1), or Sallust mouthing a widespread view of why Metellus was so shaken by the news that Numidia was to be handed over to Marius, when victory was practically his (quod iam parta uictoria ex manibus eriperetur Jug. 82.3).108 Whether or not Florus is subtly presaging the ‘liberation’ he goes on to claim this deprival ultimately brought about for him, here, at the instant of loss, he is thunderstruck, and the texture suitably elevates, turning grave : Ariadne forsaken (tota mens, totus animus 1.9 ~ toto animo, tota pendebat perdita mente Cat. 64.70), the mind shuddering at past transgressions (animus … abhorruit ~ Cic. Fam. 16.21.2, Marcus Jr. claiming to regret past conduct), formative grief at a mentor’s banishment (percussus … dolore ~ Brut. 305, Cotta, from Cicero’s own tiny oratorical Bildungsroman).109 Still, we can catch a whiff of melodrama here (animus … abhorruit 1.9 ~ a scribendo prorsus abhorret animus Cic. Att. 2.6.1, on geography writing, only half-seriously : ‘the mind positively recoils…’), and declamatory tabloid scandal (percussus … illo dolore ~ maritiali dolore paene percussus [Quint.] Mai. 18.9).110 And a glimpse of breaking free is perhaps already baked in (resiliit … ab illa ciuitate 1.9 ~ itaque quantum possumus ab illa [sc. fortuna] resiliamus Sen. Ep. 82.6).111 The closest Florus comes elsewhere is with an image of latterly subdued peoples casting off the Roman yoke (inflataeque ceruices ab inposito nuper iugo resiliebant Epit. 2.21).112 Though cut off, he too will promptly cut loose. Yet, however freeing this break will prove to be (as Florus will be at pains to emphasize), here the future looks dark as he evokes images of betrayal and abandonment (patriae quoque meae oblitus <et> parentum carissimorum 1.9). The dangers involved in forsaking Roman (linguistic) ways mouthed by Horace (scilicet oblitus patriaeque patrisque Latini S. 1.10.27) are here reapplied to forgetting provincial, familial roots, and an echo of Horatius’ rebuke of his sister’s ‘disloyalty’ in Livy (‘abi hinc cum immaturo amore ad sponsum,’ inquit, ‘oblita fratrum mortuorum uiuique, oblita patriae.’ 1.26.4) makes Florus’ portrait sound as if he is telling himself off.113 His own portrait of outcast Antony in the Epitome glimpses an off-the-rails break.114 He will rove with no fixed destination, flighty and birdlike (huc et illuc uager).115 Resembling women (resembling ones) gone mad (similis furenti) ;116 but, above all, Dido (~ totaque uagatur urbe furens A. 4.68).117 The Baetican wants details, so sets Florus up to tell his Virgilian tale (quae tamen loca quasue regiones peragrasti ? 1.9), the set-piece periegesis that follows in VOAP 2.118

Conclusion

  • 119 This lively lead-in sets the stage for what follows (VOAP 2–3, on which see my companion piece), th (...)

29In VOAP’s opening section (1), Florus has mock-humbly introduced himself to his readers, staging a chance confab with a certain well-connected fellow litteratus, who, conveniently enough, can attest the poet’s talent and erstwhile distinction—unjustly cut short by the tyrannical Domitian. This is achieved through an idiosyncratic and innovative style of intertextual autofiction, by which Florus articulates his backstory, and the developing sermo itself, through a tissue of literary references comprising, pointedly, both poetic and prose texts. Pointedly splicing together reworked conventions of prose dialogue (my sections 1.1 and 1.2) with a winking adaptation of the fan-poet meeting scene (1.3), he sings his own (self-ironizing) praises, and prepares to air his grievance, mainly through the rhetoricizing address of the Baetican interlocutor (2). This suggests a poet-orator pairing for the debate which, though certainly reinforced by ‘Florus’’ entrée to his ‘exiled poet’ narrative (3), is nevertheless destabilized by his own constant prose referentiality (alongside the Baetican’s poeticism) : Florus displays that he exudes both poetic and prose textuality. By thus showcasing his ‘life of letters’ (and one that has been so arbitrarily disrupted), he quietly defends his underappreciated value as ‘poet-grammaticus’ and implicitly validates his special role as author of (and participant in) a debate on Virgil’s ‘true’ generic nature.119

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Notes

1 Cf. non aliter, si conferre paruis magna licet [‘just so, if one may compare great things with small’] Flor. Verg. 2.4 ~ non aliter, si parua licet componere magnis [‘just so, if one may compare small things with great’] Verg. G. 4.176, sic paruis componere magna solebam [‘Thus I used to compare great things with small’] Ecl. 1.23 (with my comparandum, Milton, Paradise Lost 2.921) ; and Lucr. 2.123–4, Ov. Tr. 1.3.25, 1.6.28, Met. 5.416, Stat. Silv. 1.5.61, 3.3.56, etc. ; see Otto 1008 s.v. magnus (cf. p. 267 : ‘paruus s. magnus’). On Florus’ comparison, see further below.

2 First edited in Ritschl (1842), following the discovery of the text in a single manuscript (MS 10615-729) in the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels, first by Corneille-Pierre Bock, and then by Theodor Oehler. See Verweij (2015) 83 and Rocchi (2020) 13.

3 As a result, the (mis)treatment of VOAP by scholarship has resembled that of anonymous Latin texts, a trend so valuably countered by Geue (2019). This is, of course, paradoxical given the relative abundance of ‘authorial’ tidbits packed into the fragment.

4 And very likely of the surviving poems, as well as of the remains of letters to Hadrian ( =Char. p. 66.10 and 177.13, and p. 157.21 K). VOAP is attributed to [‘pannivs’ >] P. Annius Florus, the Epitome to Iulius Florus and L. Ann(a)eus Florus, the Carmina to Florus, and the Epistulae to Annius Florus and Florus. For details, see the discussion of Jal (1967) I cxi–cxiv, II 131–2, Baldwin (1988) 134–7, Bessone (1996) 132–4, 150–2, and now Rocchi (2020) 3–7. In this article I assume the following for Florus’ fl. : birth in (likely late) 70s CE, participation in the Capitoline Games of either 90 or 94 (less likely 86 ; puero VOAP 1.4), several years’ travel (VOAP 2.1–3), 4- or 5-year sojourn at Tarraco (quinquennio VOAP 3.3), dialogue of VOAP set soon after the Dacian triumph of either 102 or 107, exchange of verses with Hadrian (SHA Hadr. 16.3–4 =Flor. carm. 1) sometime after the emperor’s visit to Britain in 122.

5 Until, that is, Rocchi (2020), extending VOAP a truly warm welcome, at long last.

6 Text used is Rocchi (2020), with minor changes. VOAP’s opening words are likely garbled : intransitive Capienti is defended by Griset (1952) 134 n. 6 (‘Trovandomi’), and retained by Jal (1967) (doubtfully : ‘Comme je me promenais [?]’) and Verweij (2015), but it is unparalleled ; other editors substitute (Spatianti Mommsen (1861), Latenti Rossbach (1896), Vadenti Miodoński (1892), Incedenti Sinko (1903), Cogitanti Havas (1997) or supplement (<Otium> capienti Helmreich (1897), in templo <otium> Damsté (1912), mihi <leuamen> Walter (1930), mihi <quietem> Schopen). Otium capere is well-attested, and I follow Damsté here. See now the detailed discussion of Rocchi (2020) 51–3. Alternatively, perhaps our narrator really was trying to catch a wink : Capienti mihi in templo <somnum>.

7 On lucubratio, see Janson (1964) 97–8, 147–8 and Ker (2004). Florus may be the first to make a direct link between the exhausted, vegetative enjoyment of a locus amoenus and the vigilant exertions of the night before.

8 Capienti mihi <otium> (1.1) ~ si ita indulges otio (2.1) : a moment of private R&R abruptly shifts into laid back, good-mannered story-swapping—each are components and miniature versions of the leisure that is learned dialogue which comprises the entire work (we must imagine). Gauging the respectability of otium is always part of its meaning : even if Florus’ picture lays claim to legitimate leisure, the mild self-mockery of the opening groggy portrait bubbles up again in his characterization of the Egyptians as a people ‘always idle in temples’ (populum semper in templis otiosum 2.2). Crowded as it is with references to otium, the preface to Rep., especially the opening exchange between Scipio and Tubero at 1.14, must be somewhere in the background.

9 Mention of Baetica cannot help but conjure up a couple of far more imposing VIPs from Italica, Trajan and Hadrian. We might make out, as if through the Baetican’s ‘cloud’ (quasi per nubilum 1.2), a nod to the latter, who once used Florus’ adjective pereruditus (scarcely attested otherwise) to show up his exemplar Augustus in point of learning (tametsi … Augustus non pereruditus homo fuerit … [‘though A. was no deep scholar’] Char. GL 1.209K ~ uir, ut postea apparuit, litteris pereruditus 1.2 ; note a similar qualification in Cic. Att. 4.15.2, homo pereruditus, ut aiunt, et nunc quidem deditus Graecis litteris Pituanius [‘P., a real scholar, they say, and quite devoted of late to Greek literature’]). Gardens of Tarraco are, it so happens, the site of another testing run-in, this one of Hadrian, who coolly fights off an assassination attempt and delivers the apparently disturbed attacker to medical care (SHA Hadr. 12.5) ; cf. below.

10 The Epitome relishes spectactula (1.1.10, 1.5.4, 1.13.8, 1.28.12, 1.32.1, 1.38.10, 20, 21, 1.47.10).

11 See, most recently, the stimulating discussion of Peirano Garrison (2020) 236–40 and now the detailed commentary of Rocchi (2020).

12 ‘Mit solcher Wärme spricht m. W. im gesamten Altertum kein Schulmeister von seinem Beruf wie dieser spanische unter dem Kaiser Traianus’ (Norden [1932] 567 n. 3) ; ‘Wir kennen nun seit Beginn der Kaiserzeit Lobeserhebungen der officia des Philosophen, des Rhetor, auch des Dichters, aber keiner sonst hat den Beruf des grammaticus, des Literaturprofessors an einer höheren Schule, so wie Florus in die gleiche Wertordnung mit diesen Berufen zu rücken gewagt, das Glück der Befriedigung durch ihn mit so hohen Worten dargestellt, im Preis seiner Aufgaben im Blick auf die Personen, an denen sich die Arbeit auswirkt, wie auch auf die Dinge, die diesen labor ausmachen.’ (Dahlmann [1965] 19) Other poets exhibit scorn and resentment of their childhood teachers : e.g., Horace’s plagosum … Orbilium (Ep. 2.1.70–1, cf. Suet. Gram. 9 with Kaster [1995]), allegedly deficient in both pedagogy and literary judgment, subjecting young students not only to blows but to… Livius Andronicus (cf. Bentley’s doubts, quoted by Brink [1982] 119–20, that a grammaticus could truly have had such poor taste as to make Livius a school text [conjecturing Laeui]—in other words, nodding along with Horace’s conflation of didactics and aesthetics).

13 Cf. Schofield’s (2008) 80 discussion of the preface to Div. 2 (possibly composed as a reaction to the assassination of Julius Caesar) : ‘Whether we should believe that or not, announcing half way through De Diuinatione that the current political crisis is threatening to disrupt the work of Cicero the author by necessitating the reappearance on the public stage of Cicero the statesman is a brilliant stroke – the perfect literary self-exemplification of the disruption.’

14 Each of the familiar examples in Herodotus (1.14.2 ἀληθέι δὲ λόγῳ χρεωμένῳ οὐἐστὶ [‘but to tell the truth it is not...’]), Thucydides (1.1.3 ἐκ δὲ τεκμηρίων ὧν ἐπὶ μακρότατον σκοποῦντί μοι πιστεῦσαι ξυμβαίνει [‘but from the evidence which, inquiring as far back as possible, I happen to trust’], 1.10.5, 1.21.2), and Xenophon (Mem. 4.1.1 ὥστε τῷ σκοπουμένῳ τοῦτο καὶ εἰ μετρίως αἰσθανομένῳ φανερὸν εἶναι [‘that it was clear to one examining this with even moderate discernment’]) occurs in a context of the consideration of evidence ; none is really ‘prefatory’. The Ciceronian usage is pinned down by Laughton (1964) 36–8 in his discussion of the dative ‘reciprocal’ predicative participle, appearing in such basic complements as ‘ask—answer, request—give (grant, refuse), seek—find, say (deny, swear, promise)—believe (disbelieve, agree, disagree)’, and observable in early Latin (e.g., LY rogare hoc unum te uolo. PA rogitanti respondebo. [‘I want to ask you this one thing.’ ‘When you ask, I’ll answer.’] Plaut. Mer. 515).

15 Laughton (1964) 37 : ‘There is one form of the reciprocal pattern which Cicero made particularly his own. Here the complementary concepts are those of thinking, on the one hand, and getting an idea, on the other. Since the notion of thinking is intrinsically more durative than those of asking, promising &c., the concomitant value never disappears in this formula’. He notes its earliest appearance at Har. resp. 55, and then Cicero’s marked use of the topos in the opening sections of de Orat. 1 (four instances of reciprocal datives, two of which are of this new ‘concomitant’ type : cogitanti 1 and intuenti 6 (a re-prefacing : ac mihi quidem saepe numero … intuenti quaerendum esse uisum est [‘for my part, as I have often examined ... it has seemed to me worth inquiring’] ~ Cogitanti mihi saepe numero et memoria uetera repetenti perbeati esse … illi uideri solent [‘As I often consider and call to mind past times, those men seem to me to be extremely fortunate’]) vs. cupientibus atque exoptantibus 2, neque hortanti … neque roganti 4). This story could by complicated by (?)Quintus ‘thinking day and night about [his brother’s] electoral campaign’ (quae mihi ueniebant in mentem dies ac noctes de petitione tua cogitanti) prefacing the Commentariolum Petitionis : perhaps more likely for a post-de Orat. ‘fake’ think-piece to mime that so famous dialogue proem than for Cicero to have worked up a line from bro’s weird, non-confidential letter (of 64 BCE).

16 Cf. Laughton’s comments on the first sentence of de Orat. (37–8), as well as Leeman and Pinkster (1981) ad locc. Book 3 begins with similar marked syntax and authorial positioning (Instituenti mihi, Quinte frater, eum sermonem referre et mandare huic tertio libro … acerba sane recordatio ueterem animi curam molestiamque renouauit. [‘As I was setting out, brother Quintus, to recount these remarks and commit them to this third book ... a truly bitter reminiscence reawakened the former concern and distress in my heart’]). The topos can even be deployed on the smaller scale of a carefully written letter such as Fam. 7.3.1 (Persaepe mihi cogitanti de communibus miseriis in quibus tot annos uersamur et, ut uideo, uersabimur solet in mentem uenire illius temporis quo proxime fuimus una [‘As I very often consider the collective miseries in which we have been involved for so many years and, so far as I see, will be involved, I tend to recall the last time we were together’]) and, perhaps with gentle self-irony, Fam. 4.13.1 (Quaerenti mihi iam diu quid ad te potissimum scriberem non modo certa res nulla sed ne genus quidem litterarum usitatum ueniebat in mentem [‘As I have been pondering for a while now just what to write to you, not only has no particular thing come to mind, but not even a way of writing typical to correspondence’]). In both cases, the prefatory participle functions both to call up for the addressee the writer’s pre-epistolary presence and authorize correspondence. In a subtle way it extends the timespan of the letter and stamps the writer as in effect perpetually preparing to drop his correspondent a line.

17 This prominent beginning is itself a renovated version of Inv. 1.1 (Saepe et multum hoc mecum cogitaui… [‘I have often and deeply considered this...’ i.e., whether eloquence has more benefitted or harmed humanity] ; cf. … ac me quidem diu cogitantem ratio ipsa in hanc potissimum sententiam ducit … [‘and indeed as I have been considering this for a long time, reason itself leads me to this view’, i.e., that wisdom without eloquence doesn’t help, and eloquence without wisdom usually harms, and never helps]). The pattern of de Orat., with double participles, is later reiterated at Div. 2.1 (Quaerenti mihi multumque et diu cogitanti … nulla maior occurrebat [‘As I examined deeply and considered for a long time ... no greater way occurred to me’]), on which see Dyck (2020) 84, who notes the defense against temeritas as a particular concern of the Academics (comparing Lévy [1995] and [2018]). Cicero has Laelius ‘preface’ his own speech with the formula at Amic. 26 (saepissime igitur mihi de amicitia cogitanti maxime illud considerandum uideri solet ... [‘as I very often, therefore, contemplate friendship it seems to me that this especially should be considered...’]). Seneca adapts the pattern at De tranq. anim. 1 (Inquirenti mihi in me quaedam uitia apparebant, Seneca, in aperto apposita [‘As I examined myself, certain vices of mine appeared to me, Seneca, set out in the open’]). This pre-dialogue cogitation is later elaborated by Apuleius Mun. praef. (Consideranti mihi et diligentius intuenti ... uidebatur [‘As I considered and examined rather carefully ... it seemed to me’]) and, even more directly, by Minucius Felix Oct. 1 (Cogitanti mihi et cum animo meo Octaui boni et fidelissimi contubernalis memoriam recensenti—the first participle takes on a metaliterary shade here [‘As I contemplated and recalled the memory of my good and faithful companion, Octavius’]), Ps. Cypr. Ad Nouat. 1, and Lactant. Div. inst. 4.1.1. Cf. Jal (1967) II 106. For further examples, consider the extensive catalogues in Landgraf (1914) 142–3 and now Rocchi (2020) 52–3.

18 As perceptively noted by Rocchi (2020) 53.

19 Brut. 10 : nam cum inambularem in xysto et essem otiosus domi, M. ad me Brutus, ut consueuerat, cum T. Pomponio uenerat … [‘When I was strolling in my portico, free at home, Brutus stopped by, as he often did, together with Atticus...’].

20 [‘Never was a shade ... more sweet.’] G. F. Handel, Serse.

21 For Cicero’s bag of prefatory tricks, see Att. 16.6.4 and Schofield (2008) 76–7.

22 Rocchi (2020) presses hard, and plausibly, for the Augustan temple inside Tarraco, rather than a more traditional oceanside locale. See also Rocchi (2014).

23 Phdr. 230 b2–c5 (Socrates) : τε γὰρ πλάτανος αὕτη μάλ᾽ ἀμφιλαφής τε καὶ ὑψιλή, τοῦ τε ἄγνου τὸ ὕψος καὶ τὸ σύσκιον πάγκαλον τε αὖ πηγὴ χαριεστάτη ὑπὸ τῆς πλατάνου ῥεῖ μάλα ψυχροῦ ὕδατοςεἰ δ᾽αὖ βούλει, τὸ εὔπνουν τοῦ τόπου ὡς ἀγαπητὸν καὶ σφόδρα ἡδύ· [This plane tree is very wide-spreading and tall, and the height and thick shade of the willow is very beautiful... Then again, if you like, how lovely and very pleasant the airiness of the place is’] (cf. 229 a7–b2) Alas, no cicadas, or pillowy grass, but note : Νυμφῶν τέ τινων καὶ Ἀχελῴου (‘sacred to some Nymphs and to Achelous’) ~ in templo and [ πόα] ἱκανὴ πέφυκε κατακλινέντι τὴν κεφαλὴν παγκάλως ἔχειν (grass ‘thick enough to be just perfect for resting one’s head upon’) ~ caput … recreanti. See Yunis (2011) 95–6 on the passage, and Ferrari (1986). Cicero had already played up Plato’s plane when he had his characters get comfortable (on cushions) beneath its shady likeness (de Orat. 1.28–9) and transmuted a bit of the above leafiness into Latin (platanus … quae non minus ad opacandum hunc locum patulis est diffusa ramis quam illa cuius umbram secutus est Socrates [‘plane ... which extends its spreading branches to cover this spot no less than that whose shade S. sought’] ~ μάλ᾽ ἀμφιλαφής).

24 For discussions of the locus amoenus, see Curtius (1953) 183–202, Schönbeck (1962), and Haß (1998).

25 An Epicureanizing ( ?) Atticus, scoffing at the marble floors and coffered ceilings of lavish villas, no match for natural landscapes like this (fictionalized) one : ductus uero aquarum quos isti Nilos et Euripos uocant, quis non cum haec [the interlocutors’ present natural surrounds] uideat inriserit ? [‘who wouldn’t scoff at the channels they dub “Niles” and “Euripi” when they see this here ?’] (Leg. 2.2) Cf. Dyck (2004) ad loc.

26 Ep. 55.6 : platanona medius riuus et a mari et ab Acherusio lacu receptus euripi modo diuidit [‘A plane grove is split in the middle by a channel running into the sea and into Lake Acheron, like an euripus’]. See, bracingly, Henderson (2004) 62–92, esp. 81–2. E.g., Pliny’s itemized account of Caninius Rufus’ villa at Comum (Ep. 1.3.1), which includes, among a variety of other ingredients for a world-class private locus amoenus, a green and glittering channel (euripus uiridis et gemmeus ; textually abutting an appropriately super-shady planetation, platanon opacissimus) ; cf. Spencer (2010) 121. Given quasi-formulaic sequencing of plane-channel(/spring/stream, cf. Div. 2.63 sub platano umbrifera, fons unde emanat aquaï [‘Beneath an umbrageous plane, whence flowed a wellspring of water’], C’s rendering of Il. 2.299 ; Calp. Ecl. 4.2 ; Apul. Met. 1.19), and the strangeness of plurimarum arborum (Rocchi [2020] 57 digs up only Plin. Nat. 13.91 and Apul. Apol. 22.3), perhaps Florus really was going full Platonic : platanorum [arborum] amoenitate … ?

27 Ov. Ars 3.385 : gelidissima Virgo ; Seneca psychrolutes used to plunge into its frigid waters, Ep. 83.5. The euripus in the Circus Maximus was perhaps as well-known (D.H. Ant. 3.68.2), but had been filled in during the first century CE.

28 Fron. Aq. 84.3 ; Ov. Pont. 1.8.36–8 : nunc subit … stagnaque et euripi Virgineusque liquor [‘now the pools [Stagnum Agrippae] and canals [the Euripus] and the maiden’s water [Aqua Virgo] come to mind’].

29 Brut. 10 : cum inambularem in xysto (his in-home portico in Rome, apparently, cf. above) ; cf. Justin Dial. 1 : Περιπατοῦντί μοι ἕωθεν ἐν τοῖς τοῦ ξυστοῦ περιπάτοις [‘As I was walking early in the walkways of the portico’] (probably in Ephesus). Hence, e.g., Mommsen’s Spatiani mihi in xysto, picked up by Stangl (1906) 309–10. obuiam … quidam fuere does get along easier with a verb of motion (cf. the rest of the above clause in Justin, συναντήσας τις μετὰ καὶ ἄλλων [‘someone met me, together with others’]).

30 Admittedly, together with Plutarch’s De E apud Delphos and De defectu oraculorum (412d–413d). See Hirzel (1895) I 558 (on R.), II 66 (Florus) ; cf. Jal (1967) 117 ; accepted by Rocchi (2020) 53–4. The dialogue proper begins with Varro’s first-person account of his arrival at the aedes Telluris (1.2.1), having been summoned by the sacristan ; there he meets his fellow guests and interlocutors contemplating a wall-painting of Italia (in pariete pictam Italiam). See Spencer (2010) 71–3.

31 Or in order to defend the difficulty of in templo, or indeed to argue for a particular identification of the historical temple in question (Rocchi [2020] 54–5—however persuasively !).

32 Privileging Florus’ own account (vs. V. Max. 6.3.1 and Livy 2.41.10) of the temple’s foundation, the triumphant/appeasing work of P. Sempronius Sophus following his quake-tainted victory over the Picentes in 268 (qui tremente inter proelium campo Tellurem deam promissa aede placauit [‘who, when an earthquake took place during the battle, propitiated the goddess Tellus by vowing a temple’] Epit. 1.14.2). The feast meal (of Tellus’ feriae sementiuae), to celebrate which Varro’s interlocutors have gathered at the temple, is finally called off by the late announcement of the aeditumus’ shocking murder (1.69.2–3).

33 Indeed, perhaps he was influenced by the local habit (or stereotype) of not taking the Augustan cult too seriously : et Augustus, nuntiantibus Tarraconensibus palmam in ara eius enatam, ‘apparet’ inquit ‘quam saepe accendatis.’ [‘and Augustus said, when the people of Tarraco reported that a palm tree had grown on the altar dedicated to him, “That shows how often you light its fire.”’] Quint. 6.3.77 (a lighthearted roast, of course, but likely based on something). We might even speculate that Florus is meant to be lounging in the shade of the Augustan palm.

34 Hor. S. 1.9.1–2 [‘I happened to be moseying along the Sacred Way, as I do, mulling over some bit of nonsense, totally caught up in it’].

35 But looking closer, can you trace the tracks of Florus’ migraine (saucium uigilia caput 1.1) : worried sick (~ saucia cura Verg. A. 4.1), cruelly abandoned (~ uoluebat saucia curas Catul. 64.250) ?

36 accurrit quidam notus mihi nomine tantum | arreptaque manu ‘quid agis, dulcissime rerum ?’ [’somebody known to me only by name jogged up and grabbed my hand : ‘How goes it, my dear fellow ?’] See Henderson (1993) for an acute unravelling of the Horatian tête-à-tête.

37 The per-rare pereruditus is itself an erudite choice. Florus’ qualified phrasing is reminiscent of Cicero’s comment on a certain Pituanius (Att. 4.15.2, see above). For the probably ‘neoteric’ vibe, cf. Licinius Calvus’ ironic hendecasyllabic et talos Curius pereruditus (i.e., ‘with a doctorate in dicing’), at Asc. Tog. 84.3.

38 In VOAP 2 ; see my forthcoming related article.

39 Perhaps even a faux-gloomy hint of Cicero’s version of Simonides’ famous epitaph for the fallen at Thermopylae : Dic, hospes … (quoted at Tusc. 1.101). Tullius orator an poeta ? Some either/or questions are easier than others...

40 Dido’s re-use is noted by Austin (1963) 103, (1971) 226 ; also used of Aeneas by Dido at 4.10 (addressing Anna) ; hospes Acestes (5.63, 630) is the exception which proves the rule of Aeneas’ ‘recurrent epithet’ (Peirano Garrison [2020] 238).

41 Quasi is, like, a constant linguistic mannerism of the Epitome, appearing 123 times ! Cf. Florus ad diuum Hadrianum : quasi de Arabe aut Sarmata manubias [‘Florus to Hadrian : “as if spoils from Arab or Sarmatian”’] (Char. p. 157.21–22k), perhaps referencing the conceit in Epit. 2.21.7, the ‘whole’ sea floating with spoils post-Actium. On quasi in Florus, see now Renda (2020) 163–209.

42 For the former, Peirano Garrison (2020) 237–8 ; Rocchi (2020) 62, for the latter.

43 [‘For this plane tree of yours has reminded me’]

44 [‘I beg you, if it isn’t too much trouble, to show me where your hiding place is.’] nisi molestum est in Cicero : Rep. 1.46, Ac. 1.14, Fin. 1.28, 2.5, Tusc. 1.26, N.D. 1.17, Amic. 6.8 ; already in Plautus Per. 599, Poen. 50, Rud. 120, Trin. and Terence Ad. 806 ; also, Afranius com. 95.

45 Le Guin (2008) 3.

46 Quid istic ? only in Plautus and Terence ; otherwise carefully deployed by Seneca (Ep. 17.11, to make sure Lucilius is still listening, for the punchline of his epistolary lesson). Contrast Prisc. G.L. 3.85.9–11, who terms it a simple aduerbium confirmatiuum. Cf. Rocchi’s (2020) 62–3 note.

47 Thrice in Adelphoe (133, 350, 969), a teaching text which Florus likely would have had occasion to expound.

48 Hist. 2.112 survives as a quotation of Aemilius Asper (uetuste ‘obuiam fuere’, Char. Gramm. =G.L. 1.209K). Syme (1964) 240–273.

49 Likewise a signature feature of the Epitome, as at 1.18.15 (Sardiniam adnexamque Corsicam transit), 1.38.1 (Thessaliam atque Dalmatiam).

50 Each ancient writer posits an ellipsis : remoramur (Donatus 171.4), uerba facimus (Priscian).

51 On (esp. Ovidian) si tamen and si quidem, see Schmalz (1909).

52 [‘at their festivals and councils, when he had them crowded together in groves’].

53 Cf. Tacitus on Domitian’s cruel and shameless surveillance (Ag. 45.2) : praecipua sub Domitiano miseriarum pars erat uidere et aspici, cum suspiria nostra subscriberentur, cum denotandis tot hominum palloribus sufficeret saeuus ille uultus et rubor, quo se contra pudorem muniebat [‘A crucial part of the miseries under Domitian was to see and to be watched, as our sighs were noted down against us, as that savage and ruddy face with which he fortified himself against shame, managed to mark down the pallid looks of so many people’], with the illuminating notes of Woodman and Kraus (2014) ad loc. ; and Plin. Ep. 3.9.33 on Norbanus Licinianus’ success under Domitian (sub Domitiano) coming back to ruin him. Ovid’s famous duo crimina at Trist. 2.207 (also, e.g., nostri criminis 3.5.52, mei criminis 3.6.26 etc.).

54 At populum uides 2.7, Florus shows off his newly adopted community in language that identifies him with them.

55 [‘He said, “Are you him, are you that Martial, whose naughty gibes everyone knows who doesn’t have the ear of a Batavian ?”’ ; ‘“Then why do you have such bad coats ?” he asked’]. Martial’s picture of his modest acknowledgment resembles Florus’ : subrisi modice, leuique nutu | me quem dixerat esse non negaui [‘I gave a little smile, and with a slight nod let on I was the one he meant.’] (~ quae cum me uideret uerecunde agnoscentem 1.5).

56 [‘I replied : “Because I’m a bad poet.”’].

57 Jal (1967) 117 adduces Poscimur (well supported and in, e.g., Pomp. Porph., instead the now more widely accepted Poscimus) : ‘on réclame de nous des vers lyriques’ ; cf. Ov. Met. 5.333. Summo consensu : besides Cic. Mil. 25 (of Milo’s consulship) and Marc. 3 (of senatorial support for Marcellus’ recall), V. Max. is fond of the phrase.

58 A similar image of the ‘foot-dragging tyrant’ recurs in Tacitus (Ann. 5.4 principe inuito, 13.1 inuito principe). Soon Florus, by contrast, will graciously read the room, indulging in a bit of nostalgia that the emperor’s ungenerous refusal set in motion (inuito quidem Caesare 1.4 ~ nec inuitus priorum recordabor 2.1).

59 The murky modern notion of Florus’ ‘Africitas’ arguably furthered the exclusion Domitian is described to have carried out against the poet. Yet there is no other evidence of regionally based disqualification in the Capitoline games. On the latter, see Lana (1951), Caldelli (1993), and Hardie (2003), 126–34 ; and Florus, Morelli (1916).

60 Inuidia and cruel fate : Aeneas’ cry upon seeing the dead Pallas (‘tene,’ inquit ‘miserande puer, cum laeta ueniret, inuidit Fortuna mihi, ne regna uideres nostra neque ad sedes uictor ueherere paternas ? A. 11.42–4 [‘Was it you,” he said, “pitiable boy, that Fortune begrudged me upon her happy arrival, so you wouldn’t see my realm or ride back victorious to your father’s home ?’]) ; also, Jupiter to Mercury, on Aeneas obstructing Ascanius’ destiny (Ascanione pater Romanas inuidet arces ? A. 4.234 [‘does Ascanius’ father begrudge him the towers of Rome ?’]). Domitian was not bitter, no : ~ Ecl. 1.11 non equidem inuideo (evictee Meliboeus not begrudging Tityrus his salvation from on high) ; and (not) like Eurytion the good sport, letting a deserving champion win his laurels (nec bonus Eurytion praelato inuidit honori A. 5.541).

61 V. Max. 4.1.5.

62 Ibid. : Fabius uero Maximus, cum a se quinquies et a patre, auo, proauo maioribusque suis saepe numero consulatum gestum animaduerteret, comitiis, quibus filius eius summo consensu consul creabatur, quam potuit constanter cum populo egit ut aliquando uacationem huius honoris Fabiae genti daret, non quod uirtutibus filii diffideret, erat enim inluster, sed ne maximum imperium in una familia continuaretur. [‘Fabius Maximus, when he considered that the consulship had been held five times by himself and often by his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and ancestors, at the elections in which his son was about to be named consul by overwhelming consensus he strove as much as could to convince the people to grant the Fabian family an exemption from this office at last, not because he was not confident in his son’s excellent abilities—for he was outstanding—but lest the highest power be maintained in a single family.’]

63 Cf. Livian Perioch. 107, on Caesar’s ability to stand for consulship in absentia passed with Cato dissenting (inuito et contradicente M. Catone)—Domitian is no Cato.

64 For the jingle inuito … inuideret, compare Seneca on Scaevola : donec Porsina cuius poenae fauebat gloriae inuidit et ignem inuito eripi iussit Ep. 66.51 [‘until Porsenna, whose punishment [Mucius] was facilitating, grew jealous of his glory and ordered the fire to be removed against his will’] (Florus lacks Mucius’ fortitude, but he finds a way of withstanding his tyrant) ; also [Quint.] Decl. Mai. 15.5.

65 See Kaster (1980) on uerecundia, as noted by Peirano Garrison (2020) 239. An ancient commentator’s misreading of Horace’s amice (addressing Maecenas at Epod. 1.2) nevertheless exposes the deference written into such literary-social hierarchy : non uidetur uerecundiae Horati conuenire, ut amicum se Maecenatis dicat, cum clientem debeat dicere [‘it does not seem appropriate to Horace’s modesty that he would call himself Maecenas’ “friend”, when he ought to say “client”’] (Pomp. Porph. in Hor. Epod. 1.pr, even going on to suggest that amice must mean amice Caesaris).

66 ‘ama … igitur fautorem tuum.’ ‘quidni amem ?’ 1.5 ~ neque enim cuiquam tam clarum statim ingenium [~ singulari ingenio 1.7] ut possit emergere, nisi illi materia occasio, fautor etiam commendatorque contingat (Plin. Ep. 6.23.5) [‘for no one’s talent is so outstanding that he can make his start, unless he finds an opportunity, a chance, not to mention a supporter, someone to recommend him’] (NB the conspicuous absence of the tyrant’s approval in this formula for success). Since Domitian torpedoed Florus’ opportunity/big chance (materia, occasio) at the fateful games, his ‘emergence’ now pends, residual celebrity aside (‘… ubi [sc. Romae] uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur …’ 1.6). Incidentally, we are to assume the Baetican is not the kind of apparently predatory admirer flagged in Lucilius ? (qui te diligat aetatis facieque tuae se | fautorem ostendat, fore amicum polliceatur 269–70 M [‘who is fond of you and shows that he is an admirer of your youth and good looks, and promises to be your friend’]).

67 [‘One mustn’t flee love, for the truest friendship is born from it’]. Only the participle foederatus (first at Cic. Ver. 2.2.160) appears before Florus’ use of the finite verb (perhaps a learned archaism ? OLD posits a back formation, perhaps anticipated by Livy’s trans. use at 25.18.10). For the entire phrase nascentem amicitiam foederabamus, there is a striking echo in Jerome (gratulor itaque tibi et, nascentem amicitiam ut dominus foederare dignetur, precor Epist. 4.1 [‘I therefore congratulate you and pray that the lord think fit to ratify our growing friendship’]) ; Rocchi (2020) 70–1 marks it as the latest intertext. Foedus and amicitia are regularly joined in Latin, and alongside touchstones such as Verg. A. 7.546 and Sal. Jug. 80.4, 104.4, 5, Livy’s propensity for the pairing may have conditioned Florus (more specifically, his amicitiae foedus/foedera at Epit. 1.4, 2.13 recall V. Max., e.g., 2.9.6, 5.1.3, 9.11. ext. 4).

68 ubi uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur 1.6 ~ Plin. Ep. 2.10.3 enotuerunt quidam tui uersus, et inuito te claustra sua refregerunt [‘certain verses of yours have become known and, against your wishes, have broken free of their bonds’].

69 ubi uersus tui a lectoribus concinuntur 1.6 ~ sed meus in Geticis ad Martia signa pruinis | a rigido teritur centurione liber [ !], | dicitur et nostros cantare Britannia uersus (3–5) [‘my book is fondled by the hard centurion next to Mars’ standards amidst Getic frosts, and Britain is said to recite my poems’].

70 clarissimus ille … triumphus 1.6 ~ e.g., clarissimos triumphos Plin. Pan. 89 ; triumpho … omnium clarissimo (Scipio Africanus) Liv. 30.45.2 ; clarissimi triumphi (Paullus) V. Max. 1.5.3 ; clarissimus … triumphus (Metellus Numidicus) Vell. 2.11.2. With triumphus exultat (1.6) Florus apparently nods at the etymology recorded in Serv. Aen. 10.775 (triumphum, ἀπὸ τοῦ θριαμβεύειν, id est ab exultatione). Florus himself also links triumphs and song at Epit. 2.13.8 : cum… Ponticos et Armenios triumphos, in Pompeianis theatris Roma cantaret [‘when... Rome was singing her Pontic and Armenian triumphs in the theaters of Pompey’] (~ ubi uersus tui … concinuntur et in foro omni clarissimus ille de Dacia triumphus exultat, noted by Thomé (1888) 3).

71 singulari ingenio 1.7 ~ Ver. 2.4.87 (systematically condemning Verres requires remarkable talent which Cicero simply hasn’t), Tul. 33, Flac. 76, Div. 1.53 (singulari uir ingenio Aristoteles [ !]) ; otherwise, taken up by the ‘rhetorical’ Mela 1.72 (the Corycian cave), 3.48 (Gallizenae, Druid priestesses), 3.102 (a spring) ; otherwise, Col. 5.1.2, SHA Ant. Pius 2.1. Tantaque natura is of course generic, but note Cic. de Orat. 1.196 (the unique power of nostra patria).

72 nec urbam illam reuisis 1.6 ~ aut etiam properans urbem petit atque reuisit Lucr. 3.1067 [‘or even heads back in haste to see the city once again’].

73 [‘Fondness for their hosts and for the city held many in Rome’] Triumphalism (mostly nostalgic republican or Trajanic) : ille <uictor [princeps Malcovati]> gentium populus ~ praecipue … huius principis populi et omnium gentium domini atque uictoris [‘especially of this foremost people, one that is master and victor over all others’] Cic. Planc. 11 (on Roman voting) ; Assyrii principes omnium gentium [‘The Assyrians were the first of all peoples’ to have an empire] Vell. 1.6.6 ( =Aemilius Sura ?) etc. ; and in Florus’ own Epitome 1.44, 2.1, 2.2, 2.34 (uictor), 2.7, 2.13 (princeps) (whence the supplements !) ; in se … conuertit omnium oculos hominum ac deorum ~ hominum deorumque coniectos in se oculos [‘the eyes of men and gods cast upon them’] Plin. Pan. 63.8 (Trajan’s predecessors couldn’t bear the whole world watching) ; tibicinum quoque collegium solet in foro uulgi oculos in se conuertere [‘The guild of aulos-players is apt to draw the eyes of the crowd in the forum’] V. Max. 2.5.4, unus itaque tot ciuium, tot hostium in se oculos conuertit [‘thus he alone drew the eyes of so many compatriots, so many enemies’] 3.2.1 (Horatius Cocles), totius ciuitatis oculos in se numerosa donorum pompa conuertentem [‘drawing the eyes of the entire citizenry by his lavish train of awards’] 3.2.24 (brave L. Siccius Dentatus, with his military crowns and decorations).

74 The Livian parallel also supports Rocchi’s ‘l’affetto per l’Urbe’ rather than Jal’s ‘l’amour que te porte la Ville’.

75 nihil … nihil … nihil … ? nihil denique … ? ~ Cic. Catil. 1 (6 nihils), V. Max. 3.7.1a (4) ; with closing nihil denique : Rhet. Her. 2.3 ; Cic. Ver. 2.3.131, Clu. 124, 126, Catil. 3.26, Sul. 21 ; Plin. Pan. 66.5 ; [Quint.] Min. 254.3, 254.16. Behind nihil te caritas urbis, nihil … ? I must assume Florus does not hear nihil mea carmina curas ? | nil nostri miserere ? Ecl. 2.6–7 [‘do you care nothing for my songs ? Don’t you pity me at all ?’].

76 Fugazi, ‘Recap Modotti’ (End Hits, 1997).

77 uarie perturbatus 1.8 ~ Varie sum adfectus tuis litteris, ualde priore pagina perturbatus [‘I have felt varying emotions in reading your letter, deeply upset by the first page’] Cic. Fam. 16.4.1 (a reply to Tiro about his illness, because of which Cicero left him behind at Patrae as he hastened back to Rome) ~ Varie me adfecerunt litterae tuae [‘Your letter has stirred up in me various feelings’] Plin. Ep. 5.21.1 (replying about sad news of Julius Valens’ illness and of Julius Avitus’ untimely death).

78 Ad quae (for atque) is Rossbach’s correction, followed by Malcovati (1972) and defended by Axelson (1944) 17–18 (cf. Rocchi [2020] 77, who retains atque). But atque ego almost never introduces a direct reply (apparently only at Gel. 15.9.7 : … atque ego his eius uerbis, ut tum ferebat aetas, irratior ‘… [‘then I, rather irritated by these words of his, as happened at my age, [said]’]). Instead, ad quae ego (with ellipsis of verb of saying) sounds like a casual account of a conversation recapped in a letter, as in Cic. Att. 10.4.10 : ad quae ego me recessum et solitudinem quaerere (‘Replied I was after some peace and quiet’—which could well be a summed-up version of Florus’ comments 1.8–9, 2.1–9, 3.2, 3.3–8, which make up an extended response to 1.6–7).

79 E.g., ad Aen. 2.331 (Panthus), 4.367 (Dido), 4.674 (Anna) 10.515 (Aeneas).

80 [‘Thus throughout the whole army joy, sadness, grief, and happiness were felt in various ways.’ ; ‘the others voiced their agreement variously with one or another speaker.’]

81 Cf. Livy’s recurring use of uarie animos adficere/uarie animi adfecti sunt etc. for groups.

82 E.g., sin uarie fit … satietatem uitare poterit [‘but if it is handled with variation ... it will be possible to avoid tedium’] Cic. Inv. 1.98 (on enumeratio), Cic. Att. 1.14.3 (on his own oratorical performance).

83 Inst. 9.2.19 : adfert aliquam fidem ueritatis et dubitatio, cum simulamus quaerere nos unde incipiendumquid potissimum dicendum … sit [‘Hesitation imparts a certain credibility, when we feign to ask ourselves where to begin ... what above all must be said’].

84 ~ quid ad haec respondeam ? Cic. Tul. 54, quid ego nunc tibi argumentis respondeam … ? Asc. Corn. 66, de plausu autem quid respondeam ? Deiot. 15. But NB, quid nunc uis (tibi) ? is pure Plautus : Florus orator et poeta.

85 A Virgil instructor would know not to stop there : 1.387 (Venus addressing Aeneas—of course she knows, esp. as he has just told her) ; 2.148 (Priam believing Sinon) ; 4.577 (Aeneas acquiescing to Mercury—whom he recognizes) ; 6.388 (Charon, dismissively, to Aeneas) ; 2.148, on which see Austin with Servius, who derives the expression from the words of a general taking in a transfuga, as in Livy (fr. 71 Jal), quisquis es, noster eris [‘whoever you are, you will be one of us’]).

86 [‘Whoever you are, do not open up again my charges [wounds]’].

87 [‘O whoever you are, whom I have just made my devil’s advocate’]

88 Elsewhere only at Fam. 3.11.2 ; cf. Paulus’ speech at Liv. 45.41.6 (mihi quoque ipsi nimia iam fortuna uideri eoque suspecta esse [‘even to me this fortune came to seem excessive, and for that reason I distrusted it’]).

89 Another hint of Florus reading up on what leaving Rome (or not) looks like in canonical Latin : quod non Romae morer (1.8) recalls Cicero to Varro (Fam. 9.2) explaining his decision to defiantly remain in the city after Thapsus (haec [reasons why skipping town would look bad] ego suspicans adhuc Romae maneo 3), senseless habit having long hardened the wound of his indignation (et tamen λεληθότως consuetudo diu<tu>rna callum iam obduxit stomacho meo ~ quare desine … uulnus dolorum meorum rescindere 1.9).

90 1.15.5 : sed animus idem qui semper infixus in patriae caritate [~ caritas urbis 1.7] discessum ab eius periculis ferre non potuit [~ potesne … pati ? 1.7] [‘But this same spirit, forever fixed on love of country, could not bear parting from its perils’].

91 [‘and in fact just as it is right for him to give an account of his action’].

92 Recast, with comparable abuse, by Martial : 1.41.14 (’So stop imagining you’re urbanus, Caecilius, ’cause you’re not’) and 10.65.14 (‘So quit calling me “brother”, Charmenion, or I’ll call you “sister”’). These, and Catul., suggest that Florus’ abrupt transition show him momentarily forgetting his manners.

93 Summing up : quare, quid possit mea Cynthia, desine, Galle | quaerere : non impune illa rogata uenit [‘So stop seeking to learn, Gallus, what my Cynthia is capable of : once asked, she comes—with punishment.’]. Cf. Horatian satiric diatribe : ‘so cease chasing matrons’ (S. 1.2.77–8).

94 ‘How not to lose your audience’ : tum autem [sc. oportebit], id quod difficilius est [~ nihil est difficilius 1.8]reducere in memoriam, quibus rationibus unam quamque partem confirmaris Cic. Inv. 1.98 [‘but sometimes—a greater challenge—it will be useful to ... recall to mind the arguments by which you have demonstrated each point’] (again of enumeratio ! Cf. above) ; reliving loss : Pliny (Ep. 3.10.2) afraid he would rekindle Spurinna’s grief (si in memoriam grauissimi luctus reduxissem) by verses he wrote on the latter’s deceased son.

95 On the passage, see Di Giovine (2020) : 60, part of a discussion of images of wounding in Ovid’s exile poetry (45–72) ; cf. above.

96 uulnus meorum dolorum rescindere 1.8 ~ rescisso uulnere Plin. Ep. 7.19.9 (Fannia’s death will feel like Arria’s all over again).

97 As Florus himself knew, settling on similar phrasing (Epit. 2.11.4) for a post-Sullan Roman state that will not chance re-opening the scabs of civil war by letting Lepidus recall the proscribed from exile : expediebat ergo quasi aegrae sauciaeque rei publicae requiescere quomodocumque [i.e., ‘give it a rest, Lepidus/Baeticus !’], ne uolnera curatione ipsa rescinderentur [‘It was helpful, therefore, that the state, sick and wounded, as it were, be given a rest in some way or other, lest its wounds be torn open by their very treatment.’]. Thomé (1881) 3 and Rocchi (2020) 78 note the parallel.

98 Florus lingers on the mythologized suicide, with lurid detail, at Epit. 2.13.71–2.

99 [‘Unspeakable, queen, is the pain you ask me to revive’]. It isn’t close verbally, but must underly Florus’ mock-epicizing, ironic autofiction. Eussner (1888) 79 didn’t flinch (‘bewusste Entlehnung’) ; Rocchi (2020) 79 has doubts.

100 A leave-taking formula typically addressed to a deity (cf. Cicero’s playful dig at Epicureanism—quid enim dicam ‘propitius sit [sc. deus]’ ? N.D. 1.124, closing the book [‘for why should I say “may god be gracious” ?’]). Florus’ mini ‘valediction’ is elegantly packed : artful changes of subject (sit … fruantur … permittit), polyptoton (illa … illā), ellipsis (of eis, dative with propitia sit ; and of ii, unstated subject of fruantur and antecedent of quibus). A hint of what they’re missing.

101 This transitional formula (often with quidem) is at home in [Quint.] (Min. 295.2, 314.16, 321.16, 332.5 ; Mai. 7.2) and turns up in the Senecas (Suas. 7.1 [Haterius comparing himself to Cicero !] ; Dial. 12.10.2). For the ‘Aeneid’ of Florus, see my forthcoming related article.

102 Rocchi (2020) 27 rightly records ‘un impiego sovrabbondante dell’enfatico ille’ in his overview of VOAP’s style.

103 ~ atque ex illo die recordamini eius usque ad Idus Martias consulatum Phil. 2.82 [‘And remember his consulship from that day down to the Ides of March.’].

104 [‘You yourself are my witness of late in Libyan waters...’].

105 Fam. 12.13.1 : ut haec nouissima nostra facta non subita nec conuenientia sed similia illis cogitationibus quarum tu testis es fuisse iudices meque ad optimam spem patriae, non minimam tibi ipsi, producendum putes … 2 animum tibi nostrum fortasse probauimus ; ingenium diutina seruitus certe, qualecumque est, minus tamen quam erat passa est uideri. [‘so that you judge these latest actions of mine not as sudden or inconsistent but in accordance with the ideas to which you were witness, and that you consider me worthy of advancement as the best hope for the state’s interests, and as no insignificant one for your own. ... you have perhaps come to approve of my spirit ; as for my talents, such as they are, longstanding servitude has allowed them to seem less than they were.’]. Cassius Parmensis’ toga also morphs (1) into Cicero’s (in)famously symbolic one (here itself snatching from enemies’ hands ~ 1.9 ; see below) : est enim tua toga omnium armis felicior [~ cedant arma togae], quae nunc quoque [ !] nobis paene uictam rem publicam ex manibus hostium eripuit ac reddidit [‘your toga is more fortunate than the weapons of all, which now again has wrested our nearly conquered state from its enemies’ hands and delivered it back to us’].

106 Never to be underestimated ; see, e.g., recently, Lendon (2022).

107 Manibus et capiti ereptam : in Cic. and elsewhere in prose nearly always with e (or de) manibus (though note Sen. Ben. 1.11, Clem. 1.15, Apul. Met. 8.6, 9.1), but always of ‘saving’ ; e.g., the most famous ‘Res P. etc. etc. snatched from the jaws of fate and restored’ (Catil 3.1). uidi : this is of course also part of Florus’ remarkable tendency to articulate in terms of ‘seeing’ (Florum uides 1.3, cum me uideret 1.4, Siciliam … uidi 2.1, ut ora Nili uiderem et populum 2.2, uides, hospes 2.4, populum uides 2.7, si uetera templa respicias 2.9).

108 [‘I have been deeply troubled to see that a most decisive and deserved triumph has been stripped from you by this scheme of haters.’ ; ‘because [many thought] victory which he had already won was being snatched from his hands’]. Again, vs. me manibus inpiis eripite [‘save me from impious hands’] 24.10 (Adherbal’s plea to the Senate).

109 To Tiro, 44 : tantum enim mihi dolorem cruciatumque attulerunt errata aetatis meae ut non solum animus a factis sed aures quoque a commemoratione abhorreant [‘The youthful mistakes I’ve made have brought me so much pain and torment that I shudder not only to remember my actions but to hear them spoken of.’] ; cf. Oct. 2.

110 Son Engaged in Oedipal Acts : Nearly Whacked by Hurt Hubby. Cf. Serv. Aen. 11.85 quasi qui consternatus nimio dolore.

111 [‘Therefore let us keep back from fortune as much as we can.’].

112 [‘and their puffed-up necks recoiled from the yoke that was lately imposed on them’].

113 [‘surely forgetting your fatherland and father Latinus’ ; ‘“Go off to your betrothed, with your untimely love,” he said, “forgetting your brothers, both dead and living, forgetting your country.”’] And Hor. Ep. 1.11.8–10 (tamen illic [sc. Lebedi] uiuere uellem | oblitusque meorum, obliuiscendus et illis [‘I’d still like to live there [in sleepy Lebedos], having forgotten my own, to be forgotten by them too’]) reaffirms the futility of Florus’ attempts to flee his sorrows ; on this poem, which is significant to the travel narrative that follows, see below in my forthcoming related article.

114 Epit. 2.21.3 : sed patriae, nominis, togae, fascium oblitus totus in monstrum illud ut mente, ita habitu quoque cultuque desciuerat [‘but forgetting his country, name, toga, symbols of office, he had entirely degenerated into that monster, in mind as well as in style and dress’]. Unmoored, yes, but paradoxically prefiguring his account of restless—aggressive—Roman mobility : per diuersa terrarum 1.9 ~ haec inter diuersa terrarum populus Romanus [‘Such things had the Roman people accomplished throughout diverse parts of the world’] Epit. 1.22.41 (Bellum Punicum Secundum) ; per diuersa gentium terrarumque uolitabat [sc. Magnus] [‘Pompey was hastening through diverse peoples and lands’] 1.40.27 (Mithridaticum) ; populus Romanus per diuersa terrarum districtus est [‘the Roman people were drawn apart through various parts of the world’] 1.41.1 (Piraticum) ; imperio per diuersa terrarum occupato [‘as the empire was engaged through various parts of the world’] 2.7.2 (Seruile). But cf. Livian periochae 112.1 : trepidantia uictarum partium in diuersas orbis terrarum partes et fuga refertur [‘the panic and flight of the defeated side to various parts of the world is recounted’] (like the vanquished Pompeian remnants, Florus will make himself scarce).

115 ~ Cic. Div. 2.80, on the absurdity of auspicy, an art based on the inconstant motions of birds : quae est igitur natura [sc. auspicii], quae uolucris huc et illuc passim uagantis efficiat ut significent aliquid et tum uetent agere, tum iubeant… ? [‘What, then, is the nature of auspicy, which makes it so that birds, roving all over, here and there, can portend something and at one moment forbid people from doing something, at another bid them ... ?’].

116 For furenti similis Seneca Her. F. 1009 (of Megara fleeing the (madly) slaughtering Hercules), Phoen. 427 (Jocasta madly speeding to stay the battle) ; Her. O. (Deianira) ; Epic. Drusi 317 ; furenti similis is Servius’ gloss on (Dido) furibunda at Aen. 6.262. But, interestingly, Florus himself also uses the phrase of Caesar at Epit. 2.13.82. The construction is widespread but cf. A. 5.254, 7.502, 8.649, 12.754, Hor. S. 2.5.92.

117 Eussner (1888) 81. Perhaps even Hercules : ecce furens … huc ora ferebat et illuc [‘there he was, raving ... he was turning his face this way and that’] A. 8.228–9 (noted by Rocchi [2020] 81).

118 Peragrare is at home in Cicero and Livy, and programmatic in Lucretius (auia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante | trita solo [‘I traverse the trackless places of the Pierides trodden before by no one’s foot’] 1.926–7 =4.1–2, perhaps in the background ; also atque omne immensum peragrauit mente animoque [‘and he traversed the boundless universe with his mind and spirit’] 1.74, of Epicurus), but here likely recalls Aeneas rounding off his address to the disguised Venus : ipse ignotus, egens, Libyae deserta peragro, | Europa atque Asia pulsus [‘Myself unknown, in need, I rove through the wastelands of Libya, driven from Europe and Asia’] (A. 1.384–5). Cf. [Quint.] Min. 320.6 (ego sum ille qui longas terras et ignotas regiones peragraui, ego ille qui tam longe abieram ut in patriam redire non possem [‘I am the one who wandered through remote territories and unknown regions, I am the one who had gone so far that I could not return to my homeland’]) ; also, differently, but cf. the elevated style of a pre-exile, agitated dubitatio, the Sen. Her. O. 1796–8 : quae petam Alcmene loca ? quis me locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga defendet ? [‘What places should I, Alcmene, seek ? What locale, what region, what part of the world will protect me ?’].

119 This lively lead-in sets the stage for what follows (VOAP 2–3, on which see my companion piece), the most obviously ‘Virgilian’ section of the fragment (his far-flung wandering and eventual ‘homecoming’ in quiet Tarraco), and for his unparalleled defense of teaching, in the service of literate (Latin) civilization in the imperial provinces.

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Jared Hudson, « Florus orator an poeta ? or, To Compare Small Things with Great »Dictynna [En ligne], 20 | 2023, mis en ligne le 12 décembre 2023, consulté le 21 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/dictynna/3303 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/dictynna.3303

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Jared Hudson

Harvard University

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