Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 BCE) studied with Cicero under Lucius Aelius Stilo, the first Roman author to show close interest in etymology. Stilo’s work survives only in fragments, more being preserved by his famous students. Varro later studied in Athens, under a man widely renowned in his time, the eastern Greek academic philosopher, Antiochus of Ascalon.
Isidore often mentions Varro though only quotes him once (bk 4.iv.). After Isidore’s death, his former pupil Braulio wrote a memorandum (‘Renotatio Isidori‘) in which he listed all Isidore’s works, stressing their value and religious orthodoxy. He ends it by quoting the same passage from Cicero’s enconium of Varro that was quoted by Augustine in De civitate Dei ( Book 6, chapter 2). Baulio and Isidore would both have known the passage from Augustine’s work, as Barney et.al. note. For readers’ convenience, here is Augustine on Varro:
- De Civitate Dei is online in English translation [HERE].
None of Varro’s extant works contains mention of Caesar’s preferring ‘maximus’ with an ‘I’ but much of Varro’s work is lost, including Books i-iv of his De Lingua Latina (On the Latin Language). Books v-x and fragments are available in parallel text online:-
- Varro, On the Latin Language, Books V to X , English translation by Roland G. Kent, in 2 volumes (1938). Both volumes at the internet archive: [Vol.1 – books v-vii] [Vol.2 – books viii-x and fragments]. Indices include tables of Latin and of Greek words and phrases.
- The Latin Library reproduces the Latin text alone. [HERE]
Another of Varro’s lost works was De Disciplinae (‘Disciplines’), which Barney et.al. describe as:
An argument was made, by Paul Pascal, that a manuscript ascribed variously to Isidore and to Augustine, and entitled ‘ ‘ is heavily informed by Varro’s Disciplines. See Paul Pascal, ‘The Institutionum Disciplinae of Isidore of Seville’, Traditio, Vol. 13 (1957), pp. 425-431. (JSTOR)
- Header – image alleged Varro; portrait of Isidore. (A bust of Varro is recorded in a travellers’ guide of 1828 as item #423 in the ‘Hall of Antinous’ in Naples. See Marianna Stark, Travels in Europe Between the Years 1824 and 1828; Adapted to the Use of Travellers; and Comprising an Historical Account of Sicily, with a Guide for Strangers in that Island, Volume 2, p.362.) Whether the Naples bust was of Varro, and if it is still in Naples I cannot discover. The internet archive has another volume by Marianna Stark (1802). [HERE].
- Coin of Gaius Julius Verus Maximus (217/220 – May 23. Caesar by paternal appointment c. 236 AD.
- bands – edited from Brit.Lib. Arundel MS 94, f. 75.
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