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authors put to press after the invention of printing; an edition of his work having been produced at Mentz in 1471, and another at Venice in the same year. Many more editions followed before the expiration of the century.
The Various or Miscellaneous History of Claudius jElianus is another of these ancient collections of remarkable stories. iElian, who is supposed to have flourished in the third century, was an Italian by birth, being a native of the town of Praeneste, not far from Rome; but his work is written in Greek, and in what is considered to be remarkably pure and even elegant Greek. He has been designated for this excellence the honey-tongued iElian. Many of his stories, however, are much more amusing to read than easy to be believed; and upon the whole, like Gellius and Macrobius, and some of the other compilers we have already noticed, his work is more valued for the quotations in which it abounds from older writers now lost, than for what the author has put into it of his own. There is an old English translation of iElian, which appeared in a quarto volume in 1576, under the title of 'iElian's Registre of Hystories, by Abraham Fleming,' a person by whom our early literature was enriched with many other translations from the learned tongues.
As Macrobius has been called the ape of Aulus Gellius, so Pliny's ape is a like title of honour that has been conferred upon C. Julius Solinus, who probably lived about a century before him, and who is the compiler of a confused miscellany of facts and remarks on all sorts of subjects, to which he originally gave the name of ' Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium,' but afterwards that of 'Polyhistor,' by which the work is commonly known. As in point of fact Solinus has taken the greater part of his matter from Pliny's Natural History without acknowledgment, he seems very well to deserve the nickname that has been bestowed upon him, or one still stronger. The ' Polyhistor,' however, has been made the subject of a commentary much more ponderous than itself by the great French scholar, Saumaise (in Latin, Salmasius), whose edition of the work appeared in two volumes, folio, at Paris, in 1629. The term Polyhistor, by the bye, which may be translated the Manifold Historian, has been assumed as the title of one of the ablest and most useful among the critical eompendiums of modern times—the comprehensive, accurate, and admirably digested general survey of literature of D. G. Morhof.
John Stobaeus, who flourished in the fifth century, is another, and one of the most valuable of these compilers of commonplace books. In his ' Eclogues,' or Collections, which are written in Greek, and which consist chiefly of stories in illustration of the several moral qualities, he has preserved many curious facts, which are not to be found elsewhere. To his books of moral examples two eclogues of facts and observations in physics are subjoined. The whole work is often referred to under the various names of Stobaeus's 'Amalthea's Horn,' his 'Apophthegms and Principles' (Ar«tttyp*Tii xai r<rth*ui), his 'Anthology,' his 'Florilegium,' his commonplace Book (' Loci Communes Sententiarum '), &c. The work might, without much impropriety, be called Stobaeus's Book of Table-talk.
Another celebrated ancient miscellany, of a somewhat similar description, though composed on a different plan, and certainly forming a much more honourable monument of the talent of the author, is the ' Bibliothcca,' or Library, of the learned and able Photius, the Patriarch of Constantinople in the ninth century. This remarkable work—often also entitled the ' Myriobiblon,' or Many Books in One, as the term may be translated—is, in fact, a journal or record of the books perused by the author, embracing in general a summary of the contents of each, and a critical estimate of its value. As many of the works which Photius reviews are now lost, his Library has been the means of preserving a considerable number of historical facts which would otherwise have perished. "By the confession even of priestly hatred," says Gibbon, "no art or science, except poetry, was foreign to this universal scholar, who was deep in thought, indefatigable in reading, and eloquent in diction. Whilst ho executed the office of protospathaire, or captain of the guards, Photius was sent ambassador to the Caliph of Bagdad. The tedious hours of exile, perhaps of confinement, were beguiled by the hasty composition of his Library, a living monument of erudition and criticism. Two hundred and four-score writers,—historians, orators, philosophers, theologians,—are reviewed without any regular method; he abridges their narrative or doctrine, appreciates their style and character, and judges even the fathers of the church with a discreet freedom which often breaks through the superstition of the times."
Such miscellaneous collections as those we have been mentioning seem, indeed, to have formed nearly all the popular literature of the middle ages. Every sort of writing ran very much into this compilation of extracts and examples; even critical commentaries and lexicons became, to a great extent, books of table-talk. "The scholars of the present day," says Gibbon in another passage in which he describes the literary condition of the twelfth century, "may still enjoy the benefit of the philosophical commonplace book of Stobaeus, the grammatical and historical lexicon of Suidas, the Chiliads of Tzetzes, which comprise six hundred narratives in twelve thousand verses, and the commentaries on Homer of Eustathius Archbishop of Thessalonica, who from his horn of plenty has poured the names and authorities of four hundred writers." The work of Tzetzes, in particular, is nothing else than a miscellany of anecdotes, related in that strange, jolting doggrel called political verse.
Numerous Latin collections of the same kind also sprang up soon after this time for the use of the Western world. One of the most famous of these was the' Speculum Historiale,' or Mirror of History, of Vincent of Beauvais, or, as his name is often Latinized, Vincentius Bellovacensis. He was a French Dominican friar, who flourished in the thirteenth century; and he appears to have compiled his collection of true histories principally for the use of the preachers of that age, who, he tells us, for want of better stories wherewith to enliven their sermons, were generally in the habit of having recourse for that purpose to the fables of .flSsop. Vincent of Beauvais's book has been several times printed. "Among the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum," says Warton, in his History of English Poetry, "we find a very ancient collection of two hundred and fifteen stories, romantic, allegorical, religious, and legendary, which were evidently compiled by a professed preacher for the
use of monastic societies In the year 1389 a
grand system of divinity appeared at Paris, afterwards translated by Caxton under the title of the Coubt Op Sapyence, which abounds with a multitude of historical examples, parables, and apologues, and which the writer wisely supposes to be much more likely to interest the attention and excite the devotion of the people than the authority of science and the parade of theology." "Manyobsolete collections of this sort," the writer adds, "still remain, both printed and manuscript, containing narratives, either fictitious or historical,
'Of kings and heroes old,
But of all these collections the most popular seems to have been that entitled the ' Gesta Romanorum ;' literally, the Doings of the Romans. The meaning of this title will be understood from the following statement of Warton, who, in a learned and amusing dissertation, has given a complete analysis of this curious compilation :— "This work is compiled from the obsolete Latin chronicles of the later Roman, or rather German story, heightened by romantic inventions from legends of the saints, Oriental apologues, and many of the shorter fictitious narratives which came into Europe with the Arabian literature, and were familiar in the ages of ignorance and imagination. The classics are sometimes cited for authorities; but these are of the lower order, such as Valerius Maximus, Macrobius, Aulus Gellius, Seneca, Pliny, and' Boethius. To every tale a moralization is subjoined, reducing it into a Christian or moral lesson."
The first printed edition of the ' Gesta Romanorum' is a folio volume without date, but it is supposed to have been executed before or about the year 1473. An English translation of the work was one of the earliest productions of the press of this country, having been printed by Wynkyn de Worde, the immediate successor of Caxton. Afterwards, of this translation, Warton states, no fewer than seven impressions appeared between the years 1576 and the close of the sixteenth century. The book also continued to be reprinted long after this, and he mentions an edition in black-letter so late as the year 1689.
In one passage of his history, Warton says of this work, " It appears to me to have been formed on the model of Valerius Maximus, the favourite classic of the monks. It is quoted and commended as a true history among many historians of credit, such as Josephus, Orosius, Bede, and Eusebius, by Herman Korner, a Dominican friar of Lubeck, who wrote a Chronica iVovella, or History of the World, in the year 1435."
When this was written, however, the author appears not to have completely examined the subject of the Gesta. In the dissertation expressly devoted to the work, he gives it as his opinion that, by the' Gesta Romanorum,' Korner most probably means only the Roman history in general; and he adds, "Neither is it possible that this work could have been brought as a proof or authority, by any serious annalist, for the Roman story; for though it bears the title of' Gesta Romanorum,' yet this title by no means properly corresponds with the contents of the collection, which, as has been already hinted, comprehends a multitude of narratives, either not historical, or, in another respect, such as are either totally unconnected with the Roman people or perhaps the most preposterous misrepresentations of their nistory. To cover this deviation from the promised plan, which, by introducing a more ample variety of matter, has contributed to increase the reader's entertainment, our collector has taken care to preface almost every story with the name or reign of a Roman emperor, who, at the same