Panegyrici Latini or Twelve Latin Panegyrics is the conventional
title of a collection of twelve ancient Roman and late antique prose
panegyric orations written in Latin. The authors of most of the
speeches in the collection are anonymous, but appear to have been
Gallic in origin. Aside from the first panegyric, composed by Pliny
the Younger in AD 100, the other speeches in the collection date
to between AD 289 and 389 and were probably composed in Gaul.
The original manuscript, discovered in 1433, has perished; only copies
2 Language and style
5 Origin and tradition of the collection
5.1 Compilation and purpose
5.2 Manuscript tradition
Gaul had a long history as a center of rhetoric. It maintained its
dominance of the field well into the 4th century. An early lead in
the field was taken by the Aedui, early allies of
Rome and eager to
assimilate to the ways of their new rulers: Maenian schools were
celebrated as early as the reign of Tiberius
(r. AD 14–37). They continued to flourish into the days
of Eumenius' grandfather, but were closed by the mid-3rd century.
There was some revival in the city in the late 3rd century, but after
the establishment of
Trier as an imperial capital in the 280s, the
orators began feeling jealousy for the imperial patronage enjoyed by
the citizens of Trier. Despite the political and economic hegemony
of the city, however,
Trier failed to make any significant mark on the
rhetoric of the period. Nixon and Rodgers suggest that it was
simply too close to the imperial court. The surviving evidence
(which might be prejudiced by Ausonius' Professors of Bordeaux) points
to a shift from
Trier as centers of the art in the
Tetrarchic and Constantinian period, moving to Bordeaux later in the
The panegyrics evince a familiarity with prior handbooks of rhetoric.
Some have argued that Menander of Laodicea's treatises were
particularly influential on the collection, and believed his precepts
were used in the tenth panegyric. However, because so much of
Menander's advice consisted of standard rhetorical procedure, the
parallels adduced in favor of Menander as a model are insufficient to
prove his direct use by the panegyrists. Other handbooks of rhetoric
might also have had influence on the collection. Quintilian's
Institutio Oratoria, for example, treats the subject of an oration's
ancestry, parentage, and country in a manner similar to the panegyrics
of 289, 291, 297, 310, 311, 321, and 389. In any case, the other
panegyrics in the collection vary widely from Menander's schema.
Parallels with other Latin orators, like
Cicero and Pliny the Younger,
are less frequent than they would have been if those authors had
served as stylistic models.
Language and style
The Latin of the panegyrics is that of a Golden Age Latin base,
derived from an education heavy on Cicero, mixed with a large number
of Silver Age usages and a small number of Late and Vulgar terms.
To students of Latin in Late Antiquity,
the paragons of the language; as such, the panegyrists made frequent
use of them. Virgil's
Aeneid is the favorite source, the
second favorite, and the
Eclogues a distant third. (Other poets
are much less popular: there are infrequent allusions to Horace,
and one complete borrowing from Ovid.) When drawing from Cicero's
body of work, the panegyrists looked first to those works where he
expressed admiration and contempt. As a source of praise, Cicero's
Pompey in support of the Manilian law (De Imperio Cn.
Pompei) was quite popular. It is echoed thirty-six times in the
collection, across nine or ten of the eleven late panegyrics. Cicero's
three orations in honor of
Julius Caesar were also useful. Of these,
the panegyrists were especially fond of the Pro Marcello; across eight
panegyrics there are more than twelve allusions to the work. For
vilification, the Catiline and Verine orations were the prominent
sources (there are eleven citations to the former and eight to the
Other classic prose models had less influence on the panegyrics.
Pliny's Panegyricus model is familiar to the authors of panegyrics 5,
6, 7, 11, and especially 10, in which there are several verbal
likenesses. Sallust's Bellum Catilinae is echoed in the panegyrics 10
and 12, and his Jugurthine War in 6, 5, and 12. Livy seems to have
been of some use in panegyric 12 and 8. The panegyrist of 8
must have been familiar with Fronto, whose praise of Marcus Aurelius
he mentions, and the panegyrist of 6 seems to have known Tacitus'
Agricola. The Aeduan orators, who refer to
Julius Caesar in the
context of Gaul and Britain, are either directly familiar with his
prose or know of his figure through intermediaries like Florus, the
Panegyric 12, meanwhile, contains a direct allusion to
Caesar's Bellum civile.
Accentual and metrical clausulae were used by all the Gallic
panegyrists. All of the panegyrists, save Eumenius, used both forms at
a rate of about 75 percent or better (
Eumenius used the former 67.8
percent of the time, and the latter 72.4 percent). This was a
common metrical rhythm at the time, but had gone out of style by the
5th century, when metrical considerations no longer mattered.
Pliny the Younger
January 9, 100
January 1, 362
After Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 20.
The collection comprises the following speeches:
by Pliny the Younger. It was originally a speech of thanks (gratiarum
actio) for the consulship, which he held in 100, and was delivered in
the Senate in honour of Emperor Trajan. This work, which is much
earlier than the rest of the collection and geographically anomalous,
probably served as a model for the other speeches. Pliny was a
popular author in the late 4th century—Quintus Aurelius Symmachus
modeled his letters on Pliny's, for example—and the whole
collection might have been designed as an exemplum in his honor.
He later revised and considerably expanded the work, which for this
reason is by far the longest of the whole collection. Pliny presents
Trajan as the ideal ruler, or optimus princeps, to the reader, and
contrasts him with his predecessor Domitian.
by Pacatus in honour of Emperor Theodosius I, delivered in
Claudius Mamertinus in honour of Emperor Julian, delivered in
Constantinople in 362, also as a speech of thanks at his assumption of
the office of consul of that year.
by Nazarius. It was delivered in
Rome before the Senate in 321 at the
occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the accession of Constantine
I and the fifth anniversary of his sons
Crispus and Constantine II
(emperor) becoming caesares. The speech is peculiar because none of
the honoured emperors was present at its delivery, and because it
celebrates Constantine's victory over
Maxentius (at the Battle of
Milvian Bridge) in 312, avoiding almost any reference to
from the year 311, delivered in
Trier by an anonymous orator, who
gives thanks to
Constantine I for a tax relief for his home town
by an anonymous (yet different) author, also delivered at the court in
Trier in 310, at the occasion of Constantine's quinquennalia (fifth
anniversary of accession) and the founding day of the city of Trier.
It contains the description of an appearance of the sun god
Constantine, which has often been regarded as a model of Constantine's
later Christian vision. Also, the speech promulgates the legend that
Claudius II was Constantine's ancestor.
by an anonymous author delivered at the wedding of Constantine to
Fausta in 307, probably also at Trier, and it
therefore contains the praise of both emperors and their achievements.
The bride and the wedding feature only to a very limited degree in the
celebrates the reconquest of Britain by Constantius Chlorus, caesar of
the tetrarchy, from
Allectus in 296. The speech was probably delivered
in 297 in Trier, then the residence of Constantius.
is the second speech in the collection where the emperor was not
present. It is by Eumenius, teacher of rhetoric at Autun, and is
directed at the governor of the province of Gallia Lugdunensis. It was
most probably delivered in 297/298, either in
Autun or Lyon. Apart
from its main subject, the restoration of the school of rhetoric at
Autun, it praises the achievements of the emperors of the tetrarchy,
especially those of Constantius.
from the year 289 (and therefore the earliest of the late antique
speeches of the collection), at
Trier in honour of
Maximian at the
occasion of the founding day of the city of Rome. According to a
disputed manuscript tradition, the author was a certain Mamertinus,
who is identified with the author of the next speech.
from 291, also at
Trier to Maximian, at the emperor's birthday. It is
often attributed to Mamertinus, probably magister memoriae (private
secretary) of Maximian, though the manuscript is corrupted and the
authorship not entirely certain.
by an anonymous orator, delivered in
Trier in 313, celebrating (and
describing extensively) Constantine's victory over
Maxentius in 312.
The author of this panegyric makes heavy use of Virgil.
The panegyrics exemplify the culture of imperial praesentia, or
"presence", also encapsulated in the imperial ceremony of adventus, or
"arrival". The panegyrics held it as a matter of fact that the
appearance of an emperor was directly responsible for bringing
security and beneficence. The orators held this visible presence
in tension with another, more abstract notion of the timeless,
omnipresent, ideal emperor. The panegyrist of 291 remarked that
the meeting between Diocletian and
Maximian over the winter of 290/91
was like the meeting of two deities; had the emperors ascended the
Alps together, their bright glow would have illuminated all of
Italy. Panegyrics came to form part of the vocabulary through
which citizens could discuss notions of "authority". Indeed, because
panegyrics and public ceremony were such a prominent part of imperial
display, they, and not the emperor's more substantiative legislative
or military achievements, became the emperor's "vital essence" in the
Origin and tradition of the collection
Compilation and purpose
The formation of the
Panegyrici Latini is usually divided into two or
three phases. At first, there was a collection of five speeches by
various anonymous authors from Autun, containing numbers 5 through 9
above. Later, the speeches 10 and 11, which are connected to
Trier, were appended; when 12 joined the collection, is uncertain. At
some later date, the speeches 2, 3 and 4 were added. They differ
from the earlier orations because they were delivered outside of Gaul
Rome and Constantinople), and because the names of their authors
are preserved. Pliny's panegyric was set at the beginning of the
collection as classical model of the genre. Sometimes the author of
the last speech, Pacatus, is credited as the editor of the final
corpus. This belief is founded on the position of Pacatus' speech
in the corpus—second after Pliny's—and because of the heavy debt
Pacatus owes to the earlier speeches in the collection. Although
most of the speeches in the borrow from their predecessors in the
collection, Pacatus borrows the most, taking ideas and phraseology
from almost all the other speeches. He is especially indebted to the
panegyric of 313.
Because the collection is thematically unconnected and chronologically
disordered, Nixon and Rodgers conclude that "it served no political or
historical purpose", and was simply a tool for students and
practitioners of panegyrical rhetoric. Roger Rees, however, argues
that the circumstances of its composition (if Pacatus is taken as its
compiler) suggest that it was intended to illustrate Gaul's continuing
loyalty to Rome. Along the same line, Pacatus' speech of 389 might
have been meant to reassure Theodosius (who had defeated the usurper
Magnus Maximus in Gaul the previous year) that Gaul was completely
loyal to him.
Panegyrici Latini make up most of the sixteen pre-400 Latin prose
speeches in praise of Roman emperors that survive today. (The
remaining four consist of three fragmentary speeches from Symmachus
and one speech by Ausonius.) Only one manuscript of the Panegyrici
Latini has survived into the 15th century, when it was discovered in
1433 in a monastery in Mainz, Germany by Johannes Aurispa. That
manuscript, known as M (Moguntinus), was copied several times before
it was lost. Two branches of Italian manuscripts derive from a copy
Aurispa made of M, X1 and X2. These are also lost, but
twenty-seven manuscripts descend from the pair. The evidence of the
surviving manuscripts suggests that Aurispa's copy of M was made in
haste, and that the Italian manuscripts are generally inferior to the
other tradition, H.
Another independent tradition branches off of M: H (at the British
Library: Harleianus 2480), N (at Cluj, Romania: Napocensis), and A (at
the Uppsala University Library). H and N are both 15th-century
manuscripts, transcribed in a German hand. H shows corrections from a
near-contemporary, h. N was copied at some time between 1455 and 1460
by the German theologian Johannes Hergot. Detailed investigation
of the manuscripts by D. Lassandro has revealed that A derives from N
and N derives from H. H is usually considered the best surviving
Modern editions of the Panegyrici incorporate variant readings from
outside H. For example, when X1 and X2 are in agreement, they
sometimes preserve the true reading of M against H. They also contain
useful emendations from the intelligent humanist corrector of
Vaticanus 1775. Early print editions also prove helpful, as
Livineius' 1599 Antwerp edition contains variant readings from the
work of scholar Franciscus Modius, who made use of another manuscript
at the abbey of Saint Bertin at
Bertinensis is now generally believed to be cognate with, rather than
derived from, M. Cuspinianus' 1513 Vienna edition has proved more
problematic. The relationship of M to the manuscripts Cuspinianus used
is a mystery, and additional material, varying in length from single
words to whole clauses, is found in Cuspinianus' text and nowhere
else. Some scholars, like Galletier, reject Cuspinianus' additions in
their entirety; Nixon and Rodgers chose to judge each addition
separately. Puteolanus' 1476 Milan edition and h's corrections
have also proved valuable.
^ a b Nixon and Rodgers, 4.
^ a b Nixon and Rodgers, 3–4.
^ T.J. Haarhoff, Schools of Gaul (London, 1920; rept. Johannesburg,
1958), passim, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 7.
^ Tacitus, Annals 3.43, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 7.
^ Pan. 9.17.2–3, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 8.
^ a b Nixon and Rodgers, 8.
^ Haarhoff, Schools of Gaul, 48, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 8.
^ Haarhoff, Schools of Gaul, 46–48, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 8;
Nixon and Rodgers, 7–8.
^ Mesk, J. (1912). "Zur Technik der lateinischen Panegyriker" (PDF).
Rheinisches Museum für Philologie. 67: 569–590 [p. 573].
Cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 10–12.
^ Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 3.7.10ff; Galletier I: xxxi, cited
in Nixon and Rodgers, 12–13.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 12.
^ E. Vereecke, "Le Corpus des Panégyriques latins de l'époque
tardive," Antiquité classique 44 (1975): 151–53, cited in Nixon and
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 14.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 16. See also: Rees, "Praising in Prose: Vergil
and the Panegyric," in Romane Memento: Vergil in the Fourth Century
(London: Duckworth, 2004).
^ As at 9.2.4, referencing Carmina 2.1.22, cited in Nixon and Rodgers,
^ 12.25.2–3, modeled on Ovid, Metamorphoses 15.746–61, cited in
Nixon and Rodgers, 17.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 17.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 18 n.68.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 18.
^ At 12.15.6, borrows its sentiments and phrasing to Livy 28.44.8,
cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 18.
^ At 8.16.4, which echoes Livy 38.17.3, cited in Nixon and Rodgers,
^ At 8.14.2, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 18.
^ At 6.9.3, which echoes
Tacitus Agricola 12; B. Baldwin, "Tacitus,
the Panegyrici Latini, and the Historia Augusta," Eranos 78 (1980):
175–78, and N. Baglivi, "Osservazioni su Paneg. VII(6),9," Orpheus 7
(1986): 329–37, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 18.
^ Klotz, "Studen zu den Panegyrici Latini," 546, 554, (cited at Nixon
and Rodgers, 18 n.72) argues for the latter case; Nixon and Rodgers
(at Nixon and Rodgers, 18) argue for the former.
^ At 12.6.1–2, alluding to Bellum civile 3.80.1–81.2, cited in
Nixon and Rodgers, 18–19.
^ Steven M. Oberhelman and Ralph G. Hall, "Meter in Accentual
Clausulae," Classical Philology 80:3 (1985): 222–23, cited in Nixon
and Rodgers, 19.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 20.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 4; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 22.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 7 n.22; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 22 n.84.
^ a b Nixon and Rodgers, 7.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 16.
^ Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 6–7. See also: S. MacCormack, "Change and
Continuity in Late Antiquity: The Ceremony of "Adventus"," Historia
21:4 (1972): 721–52; B.S. Rodgers, "Divine Insinuation in the
"Panegyrici Latini"," Historia 35:1 (1986): 69–104.
^ Van Dam, 21.
^ Van Dam, 21–22.
^ Pan. 11.10.4–5, 11.4, cited in Van Dam, 22.
^ Van Dam, 23–24.
^ W. Baehrens, "Zur quaestio Eumeniana," Rheinisches museum fur
philologie 67 (1912): 313; and Galletier, 1: xiii and xix, cited in
Nixon and Rodgers, 5.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 5.
^ As in R. Pichon, Les derniers écrivains profanes (Paris, 1906),
285–91, cited in Nixon and Rodgers, 6 n. 18; Roger Rees, "The
Private Lives of Public Figures in Latin Prose Panegyric," in The
Propaganda of Power: The Role of
Panegyric in Late Antiquity, ed. Mary
Whitby (Boston: Brill, 1998), 99.
^ Rees, "Private Lives", 99.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 6.
^ Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 23.
^ Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 6.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 35–36; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 19.
^ Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 19.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 35–36.
^ a b Nixon and Rodgers, 36; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 19.
^ a b c Nixon and Rodgers, 36.
^ D. Lassandro, "I manoscritti HNA nella tradizione dei Panegyrici
Latini," Bolletino del Comitato per la preparazione della Edizione
Nazionale dei classici Greci e Latini 15 (1967): 55–97, cited in
Nixon and Rodgers, 36, and Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 19.
^ a b Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 19–20.
^ Nixon and Rodgers, 36; Rees, Layers of Loyalty, 19–20.
Galletier, Édouard. Panégyriques latins, 3 vols. Paris: Les Belles
Lettres, 1949, 1952, 1955.
Mynors, R.A.B. XII Panegyrici Latini. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964.
Nixon, C.E.V., and Barbara Saylor Rodgers. In Praise of Later Roman
Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini. Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1994. ISBN 0-520-08326-1
Rees, Roger. Layers of Loyalty in Latin Panegyric: AD 289–307. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-19-924918-0
Van Dam, Raymond. Leadership and community in late antique Gaul.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.