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The Date of the Bucolic Poet Martius Valerius*

  • Justin A. Stover (a1)


The collection of four Latin bucolics ascribed to one Martius Valerius was only published in the twentieth century; they have been widely considered as twelfth-century compositions. Picking up on suggestions proposed by François Dolbeau, this study presents evidence that Martius drew directly on the bucolics of Theocritus, and that his poems are late antique, not medieval, literary productions, probably written in the sixth century. Such a conclusion will require a revision of the history of post-Virgilian Latin bucolic poetry.


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ergo, parve liber, patres i posce benignos affectumque probent iudiciumque tegant.

Martius Valerius, prologus 21–2


I would like to thank Gavin Kelly, Aaron Pelttari, François Dolbeau, David Armstrong, and David Ungvary for reading drafts of this paper; George Woudhuysen for much discussion of the prosopography; the late Martin West for suggestions on two- and three-word hexameters; Harry Vredeveld for looking at the script of the Erlangen manuscript; Danuta Shanzer, Patrick Finglass, Simon Corcoran, Christopher Parrott, Philipp Nothaft, Paul Kosmin, Tom Keeline, Ian Maclean, and Jan Ziolkowski for information on individual points. Versions of this paper were presented in Edinburgh and Leeds. I thank the audiences in both places for many stimulating suggestions. The text of Martius Valerius is not easy to access: Munari's editions (Florence 1955 and Florence 1970) tend to be only in specialist libraries. The editio princeps is available online thanks to the MGH (see n. 3). In addition, the Dante Medieval Archive provides access to a plain text from Munari's edition, without apparatus or even line numbers (at; the site, however, frequently encounters difficulties. Google and do provide cached versions. One caveat lector: almost everyone has believed that the text of Martius is twelfth-century. Hence, its editors have retained the orthography of the earlier manuscript. This certainly creates a distraction, especially for readers unused to the conventions of twelfth-century scribes, even though it has no bearing whatsoever on what Martius actually wrote. One's first impression of Propertius, for example, would be very different if editors used the orthography of the earliest manuscript, which is roughly contemporary with that of Martius. I will quote the text more generously than normal in the body of this study, from Munari's edition, albeit with classical orthography. Translations of Martius are my own; those from Virgil are from the Loeb of H. Fairclough, revised by G. Goold (Cambridge, MA, 1999); and those from Theocritus from the Loeb of Neil Hopkinson (Cambridge, MA, 2015). The abbreviations used are:

PLRE – A. Jones et al. (eds) 1971–1992: Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, 3 vols, Cambridge

TLL – Thesaurus Linguae Latinae

T&T – L. D. Reynolds (ed.) 1983: Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford



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The Date of the Bucolic Poet Martius Valerius*

  • Justin A. Stover (a1)


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