Silius Italicus, cos. 68, c. AD 26-102
Punica, epic poem
Table of contents
Character of work
Pomponio's exegesis of Silius Italicus was not intended for publication and survives only as dictata and marginalia of his students or as marginalia in MSS of Silius Italicus written by or used by him, or in the exegesis of other authors he treated, especially Lucan (Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3285), Statius's Thebaid (Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3279) and Virgil (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Add. C. 136; Verona, Bibl. Capitolare CLXIV (151)). He took an interest in the constitution of the text and edited a printed edition (for this, see below) that plays an important role in its history (Reeve 1983, 391; Delz (ed.) 1987, XLVIII-XLI).
Study of Silius
At the Studium urbis Leto was a pupil of Pietro Odi, who lectured on Silius Italicus. Pietro Marso, in the dedicatory epistle to his commentary (Venice, 1483, Hain 14739), says the latter was the first to do so publicly at Rome, cf. Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 372, 387; Rizzo 1995, 384ff., esp. 393 on Nicholas V, Pietro Odi and Pomponio Leto; Donati 2000, 60-5. Whether Leto heard lectures from him on this poet is unsure, but it is likely that his interest in Silius Italicus was fostered by the place this author had already acquired in Rome, as well as by the appeal of his Roman, historical subject matter. In any case, by 1467-68 he had begun to teach him himself. The first teaching course we can document is private lessons in Venice, attended by Pietro di Celano and Paolo Marsi (Delz 1966).
Evidence that Leto continued to work on Silius Italicus during his imprisonment in Castel S. Angelo is given in a letter (28 April, s.a. but 1468) to his patron Giovanni Tron in Venice: "…historiarum libros scribo iam tertia parte absoluta…Silium et Valerium Flaccum volente Deo finiam" (Delz 1966, 422-3 nn. 1-3 — quoted by Delz from the copy by Pietro di Celano in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, lat. 8413 f. 175r, Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 374). This could refer to the copying of a MS (Delz 1966, 426; cp. Medioli Masotti 1984, 451-9).
After his release from prison and return to his chair in the Studium urbis, Leto taught Silius Italicus both publicly and privately. One of his private pupils was Fabio Mazzatosta, for whom a MS of Silius Italicus was copied c. 1470-71 (Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3302 (=Y), Zabughin 1909-12, II, 25-6; Maddalo 56-8). This MS contains a marginal 'commentary', and evidence of other lecture courses from roughly the same period survives in student dictata (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Laur. plut. 52.8) and marginalia in other MSS (esp. Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Borg. lat. 417 (=Π)). Pomponio's printed edition is dated 1471, and it has been suggested that this was prepared for students to use (Farenga 1997, 74). Pietro Marso in the dedicatory epistle to his commentary (see below) states that Pomponio Leto succeeded Odi as an expounder of Silius Italicus in the Studium urbis (Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 387): "Secuti sunt viri saeculorum memoria digni ac Romani eloquii sidera et clarum decus, Pomponius et Domitius, praeceptores mei". His final words to Virginio Orsini in the Operis conclusio give us a good idea of what contemporary readers saw in the poem:
Auspiciis tuis invictissime princeps Virgini huic operi bellicoso extrema manus imposita est: in quo de duobus clarissimis in tot orbe imperatoribus. Scipione atque Hannibale agitur: qui adeo rebus praeclare gestis claruerunt: bellicamque virtutem et gloriam consequuti sunt: ut iam nequidem sibi ipsis comparari possent (ed. of Venice 1493).
In the dictata on the Appendix Vergiliana in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. class. lat. 54 f. 7r-v Pomponio refers to his Silian lectures:
Lethe fluvius inferni oblivionis dictus. huius cognominis est Lethes fluvius hispanie de quo in co(m)me(n)tariis Silii italici diximus [I 236, cf. XVI 476],
and in Bibl. Laur., Laur. plut. 52.8 (called 'commentariola', f. 136r) at I 236 (f. 112v) is the note: "hi Graeci fluvio Lethae nomen dedere obliti iam patriae…"
In 1473 Domizio Calderini gave his lectures in the Studium urbis and raised the study of the poet to a new level (Dunston 1968, 90-106; Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 383-5). It is tempting to conjecture that this was a reason for Pomponio Leto giving up his previous intense activity. However, his interest in the poet continued and he took note of the advances of Calderini and Marso, who were both influenced by his work. There are indications in Pomponio Leto's Virgil commentary that he knew Calderini's work on Silius Italicus, as he refers to him by name as a source of information that is also contained in Calderini's commentary on Pun. 6.174 (Bodl. Libr., Add. C. 136 f. 76v "Domitius meus"; ibid. Canon. class. lat. 54 ff. 280v-281r "Domitius noster"; cp. Hunt 1975, 15). More cannot be said until Pomponio's Virgil commentary is edited. It appears that the autograph annotations in Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Inc. I 4 (identified as in Pomponio's later hand, Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 376-7) derive in part from Marso's commentary (Muecke 2005, 139-56).
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3302, c. 1470-71 (=Y).
Y is part of the set of 'Mazzatosta MSS' written by Pomponio Leto for his pupil Fabio Mazzatosta. There is a marginal commentary for the first two books and part of the third (to III 318) and isolated annotations on ff. 85v, 117v, 121v, 141-2, 144-5. For the commentary see Zabughin 1909-12, II, 155-57; Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 375-6.
Incipit f. 1r (I 2): "Enotrus F Lycaonis regis Arcadiae" (cp. Bibl. Vat., Inc. I 4 f. 1r)
Explicit f. 144v (XIV 239): "specus unde venit ad superos Pluto cum rapuit Proserpinam"
Ff. IIr-Vr have splendid pen drawings of heroes of the second Punic war, Hercules, and a triumph (Buonocore figs. 497-500; Zabughin 1909-12, I, tav. VII). See Maddalo 1991, 47-86; Maddalo-Bianchi 1996, 473-6.
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Borg. lat. 417, saec. XV (=Π), marginal notes.
The roughly contemporaneous marginal notes in Π and Y cannot be compared because of the loss of the first three fascicles of Π. This loss is unfortunate as the commentary in Π, compared to that in Paris, Bibl. nat., lat. 8413, and Bibl. Laur., Laur. plut. 52.8, represents a definite advance.
Incipit f. 1r (III 531): "pavescebant repetere oculis confectum iter"
Explicit f. 27r (VI 116): "quondam negaverunt" written over "patri"
Delz 1966 (b), 126; Delz (ed.) 1987, XLV; Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 376.
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Inc. I 4, marginalia and textual variants, in the hand of Pomponio Leto's later years
A copy of the editio princeps (Hain 14737).
Incipit f. 1r (I 2): "Oenotrus Lycaonis regis Arcadiae filius qui Ausones in sinu Campane Oenotros appellavit"
Explicit f. 64v (VII 409-10): "classis Punica appulit Caietam"
Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 376-7; Muecke 2005, 139-56
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ottob. lat. 1441, post 1470 (=Δ), contains some annotations in the hand of Pomponio Leto (ff. 15r, 16v, 82r).
Delz (ed.) 1987, XL-XLII; Muecke 2005, 152
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 1651, a. 1470 (=Q), written for Sixtus IV, signed and dated by Leonardo Job.
Q was the main exemplar for Y (Delz (ed.) 1987, XXVIII, XXXV-VI). The text was corrected by Pomponio Leto who added brief explanatory marginalia mainly in Books I-IV (the hand belongs to his second period).
Incipit f. 2r (I 13): "propius periculo fuere qui vicere" (cf. Y f. 1r, Bibl. Vat., Inc. I 4 f. 1r)
Explicit f. 196r (XVI 651): "in me" written over "mine"
Delz (ed.) 1987, XXVII-VIII; P. Scarcia Piacentini 1984, 519 n. 57
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3302 (=Y) (see above)
London, British Library, Harl. 4863, c. 1470 (=H).
One omitted line supplied by Pomponio Leto (I 55).
Delz (ed.) 1987, XVII
The second Roman edition of Silius Italicus (r2)
Silius Italicus, Punica, Rome: Printer of Silius Italicus, between 26 Apr. and Aug. 1471 (Hain 14734, is00504000)
Colophon: "Opus iam neglectum Pomponius recognovit. Anno domini MCCCCLXXI VI Calend. Mai. Romae."
The Vita contained in this edition is not by Pomponio Leto (Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 361-2).
Delz (ed.) 1987, XLVIII-XLIX; Blasio 1986, 485
Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Laur. plut. 52.8 contains an anonymous student's notes (ff. 105r-146v), recopied as part of this composite MS, all in the same hand, a humanistic cursive. Pomponio Leto is identified as the source by a reference to 'antiquarius Iulius' (f. 105v) near the beginning and by the statement at the end of Book II (f. 134r): "iuvat haec collegisse Iulio Pomponio praeceptore". There is a Vita, and exegetical notes on Punica I 9- IV 562 (I 635-94, IV 1-294 are without commentary). Dunston 1967 suggested dating the course to Leto's early period of lecturing (1466-67), and pointed to the interest in the grammarians (92-3), cp. Ruysschaert 1954, 98-107; Ruysschaert 1961, 68-75. In Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 375 a revised date was given ('after his release from prison'), on the grounds that it sometimes sounds as if Pomponio Leto is correcting an earlier version (as in the Paris MS; cp. Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 377), and on the further grounds of correspondences with notes in MSS Y (1470-71) and P.
Incipit f. 105v (I 9): "Iuratum Iovi: percussum foedus erat ex vino et amicitia. ex vino et caesa porca. VII (sic) Virgilius. caesa iungebant foedera porca [Aen. 8.641] vel percussum foedus ex vino cum sanguine mixto. ut est apud Sallustium in Catilinario. Catilinam scilicet libasse cum sociis vinum cum sanguine mixtum." [Cat. 22.1]
Explicit f. 146v (IV 562): "Mago originem habuit a Barca socio Didonis unde et Hamilcar etiam cognominatur Barca."
Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 378-9; Dunston 1967, 88; Muecke 2003 (b), 207-33 (on the topographical notes)
Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Laur. plut. 52.8
Incipit f. 105r: "Silius patre Silio viro consulari natus sub Tiberio Germanico imperatore extitit matre Fulvia. Filios duos habuit Severum et P. Silium…"
Explicit f. 105r: "Sub Nerone famam laesit. In Vitellii amicitia se sapienter et communem gesserat. Ex proconsolatu Asiae gloriam reportavit."
The only 'new' features in this life, in addition to details gleaned from Martial and Plin. ep. 3.7, are the mention of the mother Fulvia, an invented name, and the son P. Silius.
Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 375, 378; Dunston 1967, 87
The Study of Silius among the Pomponiani
Pietro di Celano (dates unknown)
Dictata written by Pietro di Celano are preserved in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, lat. 8413, ff. 204-208, 213-221. In exile in Venice, he attended a course of Pomponio Leto on Silius Italicus in 1467-68 (for the little that is known about him see Delz 1966, 418-20).
Incipit of Introduction f. 204r: "Varro in libro de (space in text) tria necessaria: Origo, ars et dignitas." [Varro rust. 2.1.1]]
Explicit of Introduction f. 204r: "Deinde in Cannensi clade paene interiit, paene omnes Centenius promittens afferre caput Hannibalis. Hannibal occurrens ei in Campania (space in text) et ibi interfectus cum milibus XIIII (m over XIIII)" (then something illegible)
Incipit of first part of commentary f. 204v (I 1): "Incipit more illorum qui texunt telam nam orsa appellantur stamina non more poetico"
Explicit of first part of commentary f. 207v (I 85): "Mortales pro hominibus ut apud Livium"
Incipit of second part of commentary f. 213r (III 311 re the lotus): "Odore, sapore, suavitate similis est palmae. Conficitur et ex eo fructu vinum quod appellant melilotum. Qui gustant loti fructum non amplius ab arbore discedunt."
Explicit of second part of commentary f. 221v (III 606-6 re Titus): "Erat vaticinium quod ex ea urbe orturus vir dominaturus totum orbem… Palaestina nunc pro Iudaea et pro avita (continued in margin) Palaestina regio est pro iudeam (sic) per quae labitur Euphrates et per Iudeaeam Iordanis labitur per vallem Iericon et non habet exitum ad mare…eum dicam lacum Sodomae. Contagionem e lacu accipit, neque eius aquam amplius dulcedinem (then illegible word). Deinde labitur per cavum et non amplius videtur."
Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 373-9
Paolo Marsi (1444-1484)
Marsi was a private student of Pomponio Leto; cp. Della Torre 1903, 21-2.
In preparation for a course at Venice (1466-67) he wrote MS B, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. class. lat. 116 (Books 1-11), Delz 1966, 428-30; Delz (ed.) 1987, X-XI. MS B has marginalia in the first 7 books, 'of some scope only in the third', where there are verbal correspondences with Bibl. nat., lat. 8413 on III 311-606 (Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 374-5). Delz 1966, 430 did not assert that the cursive glosses and marginalia were in the hand of Marsi.
Incipit f. 1r (I 18): "Dido moriens iussit Cartaginenses futuros hostes Romanorum."
Explicit f. 66v (7.491): "nomine quia sipius apelatus (sic) africanus. Sipius (sic) exmilianus (sic) filius (something illegible) africane terrarum (?) (something illegible) et punicum fecit"
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 2778, ante a. 1470 (= Z).
written by five students of Pomponio Leto, including C. Antonio Settimuleio Campano (identified by Augusto Campana, Delz (ed.) 1987, XXXVI). The date of the MS depends on that of Settimuleio's death (end of 1469 or beginning of 1470).
It contains marginalia, mostly on Books I-II, consisting of proper names, indications of comparisons, speeches, of the content of speeches, brief indications of the action.
Incipit f. 6r (I 2): "Aeneades"
Explicit f. 62r (VII 329): "verba sunt Hannibalis (sic) ad Hannibalem ut prorogaret bella usque ad diem"
Cp. Medioli Masotti 1982, 191 n. 16
Domizio Calderini (1446-1478) and his students
As Calderini was closely associated with Pomponio Leto in Bessarion's Academy, and followed him in lecturing on Silius Italicus in the Studium urbis, it would be strange if he were not aware of his predecessor's work. Calderini finished his lecture course in March 1473, cp. Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 1258 (=Γ) f. 210r; Delz 1987, XL. Calderini does not mention Pomponio Leto by name in his commentary but he does reject some views that can be attributed to him, Muecke 2005, 149-56. For example, Calderini on the simile at IV 302 denied that use of fire in hunting was the ancients' practice, whereas Pomponio Leto had misinterpreted Lucr. 5.1250-51 as showing that it was usual, Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 376.
The students who wrote the versions and fragments of Calderini's commentary in the copies of r2 (Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Stamp. Ross. 1122, Stamp. Ross. 1446, Inc. III 4, Inc. Prop. V 39; Harvard, Houghton Inc. 3431 (A)) and Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense MS 1064 (=Σ) were probably Pomponiani (see esp. the use of the Pomponian 'g' by the hand of Bibl. Vat., Inc. III 4, and the hand of one of the annotators of Houghton Inc. 3431 (A)) but Augusto Campana could not identify the ones he saw. On f. 58v in Bibl. Vat., Inc. III 4 there is a note that seems to be in the hand of Pomponio Leto.
Dunston 1968, 86-106; Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 383-7
Antonio Volsco (c. 1450-)
A member of the 'circolo pomponiano', Dionisotti 1950, 297-302.
Volsco in a Preface to the fourth book of his Propertius commentary (in Elegiae, Venice 1487-88) (Hain *13402) refers to a course on the Punica: "Superioribus annis Sylii Italici bellum Punicum profitentes…" He is attested as teaching Rhetoric in the Studium urbis in 1481, 1482, 1483 and 1494 (Dorati Da Empoli 1980). He may be the source for the commentary found partially in MS Σ (Bibl. Casanatense 1064), MS Δ (Bibl. Vat., Ottob. lat. 1441) and Bibl. Vat., Inc. II 427 (a copy of Pietro Marso's edition with commentary, Venice 1483).
Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 368-9 ('Anonymus D'), 397
Pietro Marso (c. 1440-1512)
Author of the first printed commentary (Venice 1483 (Hain 14739); 1492 (Hain 14740); 1493 (Hain 14741); Paris 1512).
Bassett-Delz-Dunston 1976, 387-90; Dykmans 1988, 68-9, 71-2; Muecke 2005, 139-56
Frances Muecke, University of Sydney
21 April 2008
This entry can be cited as follows:
Frances Muecke, "Silius Italicus," Repertorium Pomponianum, (URL: www.repertoriumpomponianum.it/themata/silius.htm,