Ampelius, Liber Memorialis

Category: Ancient Learning > Paideia

1 Introduction

The Liber Memorialis – here translated from the edition of M.-P. Arnaud-Lindet, the text of which can be found at digilibLT (off-site link) – is an interesting piece of work, promising to teach us just about everything, if only to the degree of complexity suited to a young student. As it turns out, everything boils down mostly to political and military history (comprising 41 of 50 chapters), not all of it very accurate, but even so, we get something that is quite rare: an example of how one unexceptional intellectual in the Roman empire understood the entire scope of history as known to him.

The first nine chapters on other subjects are also quite interesting as representations of the Greco-Roman mainstream worldview, and remarkable for their conciseness. In quite limited space, they discuss the entire cosmos, its division into four elemental regions, the cardinal directions and five zones from the artic to the antarctic; the zodiac, other constellations, and the planets; the winds, the regions of the Earth, those of the Sea, and their greatest wonders; and finally, a catalogue of the gods.

This introduction to the gods, chapter 9, is the most idiosyncratic section of the Liber Memorialis, being written neither in a traditional mythological nor a philosophical mode as we might expect, but instead in an an odd revisionary, quasi-historical fashion (elsewhere critiqued by Servius). Contradictory facts about each deity are dissolved by distinguishing multiple gods or persons sharing the same name. Even this chapter, however, is not original to Ampelius, as there are several other ancient texts that preserve variants of the same text.

For a text similar to the Liber Memorialis, but setting aside history, and treating the sciences in greater detail, see the Fragmentum Censorini.

For more conventional introductions to the gods, see the catalogue of gods by Artemidorus; in the mythical tradition, the Genealogies of Hyginus; or the philosophical interpretation of divine iconography in Porphyry’s On Cult Statues. (On the intersection of myth and philosophy, i.e., how to read myths in a philosophically informed manner, see for instance Ps.Plutarch, De Homero 5–6 and chapters 112–119 for a mainstream view, or Sallustius III–IV for a more sectarian, Neoplatonic one.)

The notes in italics are my addition. Some way into translating I noticed there was a previous English translation on Wikisource as well as another on ToposText, which readers may want to also consult; I have not made use of them.

2 Translation

Lucius to his (dear) Macrinus, greetings.

Since you wish to know everything, I have written this liber memorialis (‘memory-aid book’), so that you may know what the world (mundus) is, what the elements are, what the globe of the Earth carries, or what humankind has done.


(1) The world is the totality of things (universitas rerum), in which all things are and outside of which there is nothing; which the Greeks call cosmos (κόσμος).

(2) The elements of the world are four:

  • Fire, which heaven consists of.
  • Water, which the Ocean sea is made up of.
  • Air, which the winds and storms consist of.
  • Earth, which on account of its shape, we call the globe of the Earth (orbs terrarum).

(3) There are four regions of heaven: East (oriens), West (occidens), South (meridies) and North (septentrio).

(4) Heaven is divided into five circles: the arctic and antarctic, (the regions below which) are inhaitable because of the excessive force of the cold; the equinoctial, under which lies the region called katakekaumenē (κατακεκαυμένη, ‘burnt’), and it cannot be inhabited because of the excessive force of the heat; and the brumal and solstitial,* under which people can live. For they are most temperate. Through them, at an oblique angel, passes the circle with the twelve (zodiac) signs in which the Sun performs its annual cycle.

*Referring to the winter and summer solstice,
and thus to the North and South Temperate Zone, respectively;
see Geographical Zones (Wikipedia)

II: There are twelve signs in heaven.

(1) Aries, by the beneficence of Liber (=Dionysus). Because when (Liber) was leading his army through Libya towaards India, and came through dry and arid places, where there was a lack of water and his army was afflicted with thirst, a ram (aries) showed them water. And on this account, the ram was called Jupiter Ammon (Iovis Ammon) by Liber, and he built a magnificent temple for him in the place where he found water, which is nine miles from Egypt and Alexandria.* Because of this matter, Liber asked of Jupiter that the ram be received among the stars.

*This Hellenistic myth elegantly combines various older elements:
the story of Dionysus’ conquest of India, perhaps invented in Alexander’s time;
the long-standing worship of Amun (Zeus Ammon) as a god with the head
or horns of a ram at the oasis of Siwa in Libya; a pun on Ammon, which means
‘sand’ in Greek; and of course the constellation Aries interpreted as a ram,
although that particular idea is of unknown origin

Others believe he is the ram which carried Helle and Phrixus.

(2) Taurus (‘bull’), by the beneficence of Jupiter. Jupiter led (this bull) away from Neptune, as a favor. He possessed a human mind (sensus humanus) in the shape of a bull, and by the command of Jupiter, he charmed and abducted Europa, the daughter of Agenor, from Sidonia (=Sidon in Phoenicia), and brought her to Crete. Because of this matter, Jupiter honored him with immortal memory among the stars.

(3) Gemini (‘twins’). They are said to be the Samothraces, whose story is illicit to narrate except for those who are present at the initiations (of the Samothracian mysteries).

Others say they are Castor and Pollux, because these princes kept the sea protected from piracy.

There are some who say they are Hercules and Theseus, because they strove in similar contests.

(4) Cancer, karkínos (καρκίνος; both meaning ‘crab’) was received (among the stars) by the beneficence of Juno. Because, when Hercules was sent to kill the the Lernaean Hydra – what we call a viper (excetra) –, by the command (of Juno), a crab (carcinus) came in and mangled the feet and legs of Hercules, harming him more than the viper itself, and this was the most difficult evil Hercules faced. Because of this event, Juno honored the crab (carcinus, cancer) with stars.

(5) Leo, leōn (λέων; both meaning ‘lion’) was brought up on the Moon by a plan of Juno’s to kill Hercules. Sent to the Inachian soil (i.e., ‘Greece’), it long lay hidden in a cave. It is said that Hercules killed it with Molorchus, his host. At this time, he first took up a club, which was Molorchus’, who had given it to him. He killed the lion with it, and thereafter wore its skin as his coat. Because of this event, he began to be hated by Juno,* and she honored the lion with celestial dignity.

*Ampelius contradicts himself: according to the opening sentence,
she sent down the lion from the Moon because she already hated Hercules

(6) Virgo (‘maiden, virgin’), whom we call Justice (Iustitia), used to live among humanity; but after humans began to do evils, Jupiter (Iovis) placed her among the constellations.*

*Unlike most of the myths recounted here, there survives a great
poetic treatment of this story, namely in the
Phaenomena of Aratus,
a didactic poem about the constellations.

There are some who say she is Erigone of Athens, the daughter of Icarius, to whose father Liber gave the wine, so that he would give it to (other) people for their merriment. But those who he gave it to were drunk and stoned him to death.* His dog, who was with him, saw how the man was killed, and came back howling to Erigone. When she saw him, sad and alone, she was worried and went with him. They came to the place where Icarius lay. She saw the body of her father, and with great lamentation buried him on Mount Hymettus, and hanged herself with a noose. The dog lay at her feet for a long time without nourishment, until, thirsting for water, it threw itself into a well. Then Liber asked of Jupiter what was beyond his own remit, that the virgin should be placed among the course of the stars. And Icarius was named Arcturus, and his star creates continuous winds when it rises. The dog is Canicula (‘little dog’, i.e., ‘Dog Star’).

*Either in their drunkenness or, as other versions suggest,
because the experience of being drunk disturbed them.

(7) Libra, which the Greeks call ζυγόν (both meaning ‘pair of scales’), is masculine by name; and he who acquired (this honor), by complete justice of clemency, was called Stathmochus, who is said to have first invented weighing by scales for humanity, which are esteemed as of the greatest use for mortals; and thus, he was also received into the number of the stars, and called Libra.*

*Thus, somewhat confusingly, it was the obscure Stathmochus
who was immortalized as Libra, not his invention.

(8) The one called Scorpio (lat. Scorpius, ‘scorpion’), came into being on the isle of Chios, on Mount Pelenaeus, by the will of Diana, for the destruction of Orion. For Orion, when he was hunting, saw Diana, and desired to rape her. She made the scorpion come forth, and it deprived him of his life. Jupiter received both the scorpion and Orion among the stars.

(9) Sagittarius (‘archer’): Crotos, the son of the nurse of the Muses; the Muses always loved him, because he would entertain them with the strike and play of arrows (sagittae).

Others say that he is Chiron, who was just, pious, learned and hospitable; Aesculapius was taught medicine by him, Achilles to play the lyre and many other things.

(10) Capricorn (lat. Capricornus, ‘he with goat horns’), whose name is Pan. When Python,* who dwelled in the caves within the Taurus Mountains, set out to Egypt for war, Pan transformed into the shape of a goat. Hence, after the immortal gods administered the proper punishment to Python, they decorated Pan with a memorial of stars.

*The author, or a later scribe, has confused Python with Typhon
(both being dragon-like enemies of the gods). The myth brings together the old
Anatolian myths about Typhon (hence the Taurus Mountains) with the Egyptian
ones about Set (called Typhon in Greek; hence the war on Egypt), and is meant to
explain the animal shapes of the gods in Egyptian and, to lesser extent, in Greek
tradition: in fear of Typhon, they changed into these shapes. Pan, or the goat,
is supposed to have made a special contribution to defeating him.

(11) Aquarius (‘water-carrier’), who is believed to be Ganymede.

(Alternately), it is said that Deucalion of Thessaly, together with his wife Pyrrha, alone escaped the great flood, and that he was placed among the stars on account of his piety.

(12) Pisces, that is, two fish (pisces); because, in the war against the Giants, when Venus was scared, she transformed herself into a fish. And because it is said that, in the river Euphrates, a dove brooded the egg of a fish in the river mouth, until there hatched a goddess, benevolent and compassionate with humanity, and (helping them) to a good life. For the sake of commemorating this, both fish were placed among the stars.


(1) Beside the twelve signs, the most powerful stars in heaven are these:

  • the two Septemtriones, the greater (=Ursa Major) and the lesser (=Ursa Minor), which never set and therefore govern the course of ships; the latter of them is also called Cynosura;
  • Boötes (Βοώτης), the same as Arcturus;
  • (2) Orion, which in its size reaches across half of heaven;
  • the Pleiades (Πλειάδες), which are called Virgiliae in Latin;
  • the Hyades (Ὑάδες), which are called Subuculae by us; their rising and setting are observed by sailors and farmers;
  • Canicula (=Sirius), whose force is greatest at the (summer) solstice.

(3) The most powerful stars in heaven are seven: Saturn, Sun (Sol), Moon (Luna), Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus; which are called Planets (Πλανήτες) by the Greeks, but Erraticae (both meaning ‘wandering, roaming’) by us, because they wander according to their own will (arbitrium), and the fates of humans are regulated by their motion. Further, they are carried in a contrary course, opposite to (the fixed stars of) heaven.

IV: In which regions of the winds do the twelve signs lie?

  • (1) Aries in the Easterly (apheliotes),
  • Taurus in the North-Easterly (caecias),
  • Gemini in the North-North-Easterly (aquilo),
  • Cancer in the Northerly (septentrio),
  • Leo in the North-North-Westerly (thrascias),
  • Virgo in the North-Westerly (argestes),
  • (2) Libra in the Westerly (zephyros),
  • Scorpio (Scorpius) in the South-Westerly (africus),
  • Sagittarius in the Westerly and South-Westerly,
  • Capricorn in the Westerly (austrus),
  • Aquarius in the South-Easterly (eurus) and Southerly (notus),
  • Pisces in the South-Easterly.


*This chapter gives a different understanding of the winds than the previous.

(1) Winds arise from the motion and inclination of the air. Now, there are four general winds:

  • from the East, eurus, which is the same as apheliotes and vulturnus;
  • from the West, zephyrus, which is the same as corus and favonius;
  • from the North, aquilo, boreas, aparctias;
  • from the South, notus, which is the same as libs, auster and africus.

(2) These are the four general winds. Other, specific (speciales) winds are subordinated to these, like the Iapyx (=NW) to the Zephyrus (=W); it blows from the Iapygium, a promontory of Apulia. Or the Leuconotus (=SSW?) to the Notus (=S), when it blows more calmly. Or the Circius (=NNW?) to the Aquilo (=N), when it blows more vehemently through the provinces of Gaul. Further, the Etesians, which blow on certain days of the summer.


(1) The globe of the Earth, which is under heaven, is inhabited in four regions. One part of it is the one in which we live. The second is on the other side (of the brumal circle), which those who are called antichthones inhabit. Below these there are two situated opposite them (below the solstitial circle), which those who are called antipodes inhabit.

(2) The (part of) the globe of the Earth which we inhabit is divided into three parts, and as many names:

  • Asia, which is between (the rivers) Tanais (=Don) and Nile.
  • Libya (=Africa), which is situated between the Nile and the gulf of Gades (=strait of Gibraltar).
  • Europa, which is between this strait and the Tanais.

(3) The most famous peoples in Asia: Indians,* Seres, Persians,* Medes, Parthians, Arabs,* Bithynians, Phrygians, Cappadocians, Cilicians, Syrians, Lydians.

(4) The most famous peoples in Europe: Scythians, Sarmatians, Germani,* Dacians, Moesians, Thracians, Macedonians,* Dalmatians, Pannonians, Illyrians, Greeks,* Italians,* Gauls, Spani.*

(5) The most famous peoples in Libya: Aethiopians,* Maurians, Numidians, Punians, Gaetulians, Garamantes, Nasamonians, Egyptians.*

*It is important not to understand any of these peoples
as directly continuous with modern nation states.
E.g., the Germani are not simply “ancient Germans”;
the relation between Greeks, Romans and various peoples
of Asia Minor has been very complex historically; and so on.

(6) The most famous mountains in the globe of the Earth: Caucasus in Scythia, Emodus (=Himalaya) in India, Libanus (=Mt. Lebanon) in Syria, Olympus in Macedonia, Hymettus in Attica, Taÿgetus in Lacedaemonia, Cithaeron and Eleon in Boeotia, Parnassos and Acroceraunia in Epirus, Maenalus in Arcadia, (7) Apennine in Italy, Eryx in Sicily, Alps between the provinces of Gaul, Pyrenees between Gaul and Spain, Athlans (=Atlas Mountains) in Africa, Calpe (=Rock of Gibraltar) in the strait of the Ocean.

(8) The most famous rivers in the globe of the Earth:

  • Indus, Ganges and Hydaspes (=Jhelum) in India.
  • Araxes (=Aras) in Armenia; Thermodon (=Terme) and Phasis (=Rioni) in Colchis.
  • (9) Tanais (=Don) in Scythia; Strymon (=Struma) and Hebrus (=Maritsa/Evros) in Thrace.
  • Sperchios in Thessaly.
  • Hermus (=Gediz) and Pactolus (=Sart Çayı), which both carry gold, as well as Maeander (=Büyük Menderes) and Caÿstrus (=Küçük Menderes) in Lydia.
  • Cydnus (=Berdan) in Cilicia.
  • Orontes (=Asi) in Syria.
  • Simois (=Dümrek Çayı) and Xanthus (=Eşen Çayı) in Phrygia.
  • (10) Eurotas in Lacedaemon.
  • Alpheus in Elis.
  • Ladon in Arcadia.
  • Achelous and Inachus in Epirus.
  • Savus (=Sava) and Danubius (=Danube), which is also called Ister, in Moesia.
  • Eridanus (=Po) and Tiberinus (=Tiber) in Italy.
  • Timavus (=Timavo) in Illyria.
  • Rhodanus (=Rhône) in Gaul.
  • Iberus (=Ebro) and Baetis (=Guadalquivir) in Spania.
  • (11) Bagrada (=Medjerda) in Numidia.
  • Triton (no longer in existence) in Gaetulia.
  • Nile in Egypt.
  • Tigris and Euphrates in Parthia.
  • Rhenus (=Rhein) in Germania.

(12) The most famous islands:

  • In our sea (=the Mediterranean), eleven: Sicily, Sardinia, Crete, Cypros (=Cyprus), Euboea, Lesbos, Rhodos (=Rhodes), the two Balearic islands, Ebusus (=Ibiza), Corsica, Gades (=Cádiz).
  • In the Ocean:
    • In the East, Taprobane (=Sri Lanka).
    • In the West, Britannia (=Britain).
    • In the North, Thyle (unclear).
    • In the South, the Isles of the Blessed.
  • (13) Besides these, in the Aegean Sea:
    • Twelve Cyclades: Delos, Gyaros, Myconos, Andros, Paros, Tenos, Ios, Cythnos, Siphnos, Melos, Naxos, Donusa.
    • (14) Besides these, the innumerable Sporades.
    • Otherwise, the most celebrated are Aegina, Salamina, Coos, Chios, Lemnos, Samothracia.
  • (15) In the Ionian Sea:
    • Echinades, Strophades, Ithace, Cephalenia, Zacynthos.
  • In the Adriatic: around a thousend Crateae.
  • In the Sicilian Sea: eight Aeolian islands.
  • In the Gallic Sea: three Stoechades.
  • In the Syrtes: Cercina (=Kerkennah), Menix and Girba (both = Djerba).


(1) The sea by which everything is encircled is called Oceanus. This breaks into the earth in four regions: from the North, the so-called Caspian Sea; from the East, the Persian Sea; from the South, the Arabian Sea, the same as the Red Sea (Rubum et Erythraeum); in the West, the great sea, the same as the Atlantic Sea, which is busy with the dealings of all humankind. (2) This last enters into the strait of Gades, between the two very famous mountains Abinna (=Jebel Musa?) and Calpe (=Rock of Gibraltar), set up as the ‘Pillars of Hercules’, and then, extending far and wide, it covers the middle of the globe of the Earth, and acquires various names:

  • (3) Balearic Sea, when it washes up against Hispania.
  • Gallic Sea, when it touches the provinces of Gaul.
  • Ligustic Sea, when it flows towards the Ligures.
  • Tuscan or Tyrrhenian Sea, which is the same as the Lower Sea (inferum),
  • Adriatic Sea (Hadriaticum), which is the same as the Upper Sea (superum),
  • Sicilian Sea (Siculum)
  • Cretan Sea (Creticum)
  • Ionian or Aegean Sea
  • Myrtoan or Icarian Sea
  • Pontic Sea
  • Hellespontic Sea
  • Tanaitic
  • Egyptian
  • Libyan (Libycum)
  • Syrtic

Tuscum, Tyrrhenum, idem inferum, quod dextrum Italiae latus circuit; Hadriaticum, idem superum, quod sinistrum Italiae latus circuit; [4] Siculum, in quo Sicilia; Creticum, in quo insula est Creta; Ionium et Aegaeum, quae Achaiam, idem Peloponnesum, ita ambiunt ut interueniente Isthmo paene insulam faciant; Myrtoum et Icarium, quae adhaerent Aegaeo mari, illud a Myrtilo, hoc ab Icaro cognominatum; [5] Ponticum, quod ingenti sinu Scythis infunditur; Hellesponticum, fauce transmissum inter duas celeberrimas urbes, Seston Asiae, Abydon Europae; Tanaiticum, quo Asia alluitur; Aegyptium ab Aegypto, Libycum a Libya cognominatur; Syrticum a duabus Syrtibus reciprocis aestibus retorquetur.


[1] Apolloniae ad Amantiam milia passus quinque in monte Nymphaeo, ubi ignis est et de terra exit flamma. In silua Panis symphonia in oppidum auditur. Item sub eo monte in campo lacus aquae pleni unde pix exit et bitumen; cum manibus subplodas, pix alte attollitur et quasi ab aqua bullescit.

[2] Ambraciae in Epiro in pariete sunt picti Castor et Pollux et Helena manu autochthonis et nemo neque inuenire potest quis pinxerit.

[3] Argis in Epiro, quod Ὕπατον appellatur: ibi pons magnus columpnatus duplex quem Alcidea aedificari imperasse fertur. Ibi picta sunt gubernacula Argonautarum qua excepta nauis. Ibi Iouis templum Typhonis, unde est ad inferos descensus ad tollendas sortes; in quo loco dicunt duo qui descenderunt Iouem ipsum uidere.

[4] Leucade mons unde se Sappho deiecit propter uirum. In summo monte fanum est Apollinis ubi sacra fiunt et cum homo inde desiluit, statim excipitur lintribus.

[5] Sicyone in Achaia: in foro aedis Apollinis est; in ea sunt posita Agamemnonis clipeus et machaera, Vlixis chlamys et thoracium, Teucri sagittae et arcus, Adrasti arca quam deposuit, in qua quid sit ignoratur, sed et olla aerea in qua Pelias coctus dicitur; item Palamedis litterae, Marsyae autem quoque corium, remi Argonautarum et gubernaculis bracchia, cauculus quo Minerua sortita est de Oreste [cerauit una comparas]; ibi palla pendet; quam si quis halitu afflauerit, tota patefit Penelopae tela. Ibi de terra oleum scaturrit.

6] Argis Inachiae Iunonis templum magnifice ornatum, quod asylum uocant.

[7] Olympiae templum Iouis nobile, ubi athletae initiantur.

[8] Corintho ballenae costa est magna secundum mare, quam homo complecti non potest; eodem in loco fanum est Veneris, in quo uas marmoreum Laidos.

[9] Boetiae lacus sacer ubi Amphiaraus deuoratus; in eo lacu est urceus fictilis fractus: pendet testa intrinsecus posita; unde autem pendeat non apparet nisi a uento moueatur.

[10] Athenis, Mineruae sedes nobilis cuius ad sinistram clipeus appositus quem digito tangit; in quo clipeo medio Daedali est imago ita collocata: quam si quis imaginem <e> clipeo uelit tollere, perit totum opus; soluitur enim signum. Ipsa autem dea habet hastam de aeramine

[11] Ilio: lapis quadratus ubi Cassandra fuit alligata: quem si ante tangas [id est] aut fricueris, lac demittit; ex altera autem parte similiter si frices ac si sanguinem remittit. Iuxta autem mare qui locus Rhoeteon uocatur; ibi est Achillis et Patrocli tumulus et flumen Scamandros.

[12] Ephesiae Dianae fanum nobilissimum maximum pulcerrimumque orbis terrarum; introitu dextra sinistra postes marmorei monolithi longi cubitis XX <…> qua super templum ascensu sunt CXL milia <…> .

[13] Samio in templo Iunonis, scyphus factus est ex hedera cuius capita foras IV arietina magna cornibus mirae magnitudinis contortis.

[14] Pergamo, ara marmorea magna, alta pedes XL cum maximis sculpturis; continet autem gigantomachiam.

[15] Iaso, signum Dianae marmoreum pulcerrimum quod stat sub diuo caelo nec cum pluit aqua tangitur.

[16] Bargyliis est fanum Veneris super mare: ibi est lucerna super candelabrum posita, lucens ad mare sub diuo caelo, quam neque uentus spargit nec pluuia extinguit; sed et Herculis aedes antiqua. Ibi columna pendet cauea ferrea rotunda in qua conclusa Sibylla dicitur. Ibi iacent ossa ballenae quasi lapides quadrati.

(17) Magnesia on the (river) Sipylus (in Lydia), there are four pillars: between these columns, a Victory (Victori) of iron is suspended, stirring without any chain; but whenever there is wind or rain, it stops moving.

(18) The temple of Diana in Ephesus, which an Amazon founded; there is also a grave there of Icarius, who snores as if he were asleep, of marvelous size, made of orichalcum and iron.

(19) The colossus of Rhodes: a bronze statue of the Sun (Sol), on top of a marble pillar, with a copper four-yeaked chariot; and the column has (a height of) a hundred cubits.

[19] Rhodi colossus: signum Solis aeneum; super columna marmorea cum quadriga cupro; columna uero habet cubitus centum.

(20) The statue of Jupiter Olympius (in Olympia), which Phidias made of ivory, with a face of gold, 150 cubits high and 60 cubits wide.

[21] Domus illa Cyri regis aedificata lapidibus candidis et nigellis auro uinctis ubi sunt columnae diuersis coloribus et innumerabiles lychnides ferreae, fenestrae ex argento et tegulae ex lapide prasino.

(22) The wall (around Babylon) in Babylonia, which Memnon built from baked stone (lapis coctus), that is, from limestone and sulphur, combined with iron so there would be junctures. Its breadth is 30 cubits, the height 130 cubits, and its circumference is 30 miles. Semiramis began it, but her son completed it.

(23) The pyramids in Egypt, which Agartus(?) built.


Oppidum: ibi est Nilus fluuius aere factus †plexilis† in cubitis CCC, cuius facies <ex> smaragdo limpido. brachia ex ebore magno, cuius aspectu et bestiae terrentur.

(25) In Athens, a statue of Jupiter Olympius.

In Alexandria, they worship the river Nile above all (maxime).

IX How many Jupiters, and gods and goddesses, have there been, and where?*

*Multiple versions of this (originally Greek) catalogue are known;
it attempts to unify the discordant genealogies of the gods,
but in a rather idiosyncratic way. Many details are obscure.

(1) There have been three Jupiters (Ioves):

  • The first in Arcadia, the son of Aether; and the byname Aetherius was his; he begot the first Sun.
  • The second, again in Arcadia, who is called by the byname Saturnius, and who with Proserpine had Liber Pater, the first of the victors (?).
  • The third, of Crete, the son of Saturn and Ops (=Rhea), who is also called Optimus Maximus.

(2) There have been two Marses (Martes):

  • The first is Ἐνόπλιος (Enóplios, ‘armored’), as Euhemerus says, who is also our Mars Leucaspis (gr. ‘of the white shield’) and, by another name, Mars Enyalius.
  • The second is the son of Jupiter and Juno.

(3) There have been five Suns (Soles):

  • The first, the son of Jupiter.
  • The second, of Hyperion.
  • The third, the son of the Nile; Egypt is consecrated to him.
  • The fourth, who is the son of Rhodus, and whose son is Zmintheus.
  • The fifth, the son of Colchus, whose children Circe, Medea and Phaethon are.

(4) There have been four Vulcans (Vulcani):

  • The first is the son of Caelus (‘Heaven’) and Ops.
  • The second, the son of the Nile.
  • The third, of the Saturnian (Jupiter) and Juno.
  • The fourth, in Sicily, the son of Melete.

(5) Four Mercuries (Mercurii):

  • The first, the son of Caelus (‘Heaven’) and Dies (‘Day’).
  • The second, the son of Jupiter and Cronia (=Juno Saturnia?) or Proserpine.
  • The third, the son of Cronius (=Jupiter Saturnius) and Maia, who is the inventor of the lyre.
  • The fourth, the son of Cyllena, who taught letters and numbers to the Egyptians.

(6) Five Apollos (Apollines):

  • The first, of Vucan and Minerva.
  • The second, of Corybas.
  • The third, the son of Jupiter and Latona.
  • The fourth, the son of Silenus, in Arcadia.
  • The fifth, the son of Ammon, born in Libya.

(7) Three Dianas (Dianae):

  • The first, the daughter of Cronius (=Jupiter Saturnius) and Proserpine; she is the sister of Liber.
  • The second, of Jupiter and Latona, the sister of Apollo.
  • The third, who is called Upis, of Glauce.

(8) Three Aesculapiuses (Aesculapii):

  • The first, Apollon, who is called the son of Vulcan.
  • The second, the son of Lycius.
  • The third, the son of Aristaeus and Alcippe.

(9) Four Venuses (Veneres):

  • The first, the daughter of Caelus (‘Heaven’) and Dies (‘Day’).
  • The second, who was born from foam, is said to be the daughter of Aether and of Oceanus.
  • The third, who married Vulcan; and who had sex with Mars, whence Cupid is said to have been born.
  • The fourth, the daughter of Cyprus and Syria, whom Adon ‘had’.

(10) Five Minervas (Minervae):

  • The first, the daughter of Vulcan, from whom is the city of Athens.
  • The second, the daughter of the Nile, whom the Egyptians worship.
  • The third, the daughter of Jupiter, who engaged in military matters.
  • The fourth, the daughter of the Sun, who put together four-yoked chariots.
  • The fifth, the daughter of Pallas and Titanis. She killed her father to protect her virginity, which he lusted after, and hence is called Pallas.

(11) Five Libers (Liberi):

  • The first is the son of Jupiter and Proserpine. He was a farmer and the discoverer of wine, whose sister was Ceres.
  • The second Liber, of Melones and Flora; the river called Granicus belongs to him.
  • The third, of Cabirus, who ruled in Asia.
  • The fourth, of (Jupiter) Saturnis and Semela, whom they call [some words lost].
  • The fifth, the son of Nysus (or Nisus) and Hesione.

(12) Six Herculeses (Hercules):

  • The first, the son of Jupiter and Aether.
  • The second, the son of the Nile, whom they worship as the ruler (or ‘first in rank’) of Egypt.
  • The third, the Hellenes say was the founder of their region (=Greece? Or the region of Hellas in Thessaly?).
  • The fourth, the son of Cronius (=Jupiter Saturnius) and Carthere, whom the Carthaginians worship, and hence (their city) is called Carthage.
  • The fifth is the son of Joab (? Ioab) who fought against (with?) the king of the Medes.
  • The sixth is the son of Jupiter and Alcemena (=Alkmene), who taught Atlas.


(1) From the beginning of memory of time, there have been seven empires (imperia). The first who took possession of things were

  • the Assyrians,
  • then the Medes,
  • afterwards the Persians,
  • then the Lacedaemonians (=Spartans),
  • then the Athenians,
  • then after these the Macedonians,
  • and finally the Romans.

XI: The kings of the Assyrians.

[1] Ninus rex qui primus exercitu prope totam Asiam sub se redegit et clarissimam urbem nominis sui condidit Ninon. [2] Belus rex, Iouis filius, cuius posteri per Ninum Asiae regnauerunt, per Aegyptum Libyae, per Danaum Europae. [3] Samiramis, Dercetis nymphae filia, columbis educta, uxor Nini regis, cuius post mortem regnum Nini ampliauit armis; Indiam quoque parum prospera expeditione temptauit: haec urbem pulcherrimam omnium quae unquam fuerunt, Babylona constituit supra flumen Euphraten. [4] Sardanapalus, qui ob nimias delicias et luxuriam perdito regno, ne in potestatem hostium ueniret cum exoletis suis uenenum bibit et, igni sub lecto <subiecto>, cum regia sua conflagrauit.

XII: The kings of the Medes.

[1] Arbaces, primus rex, qui euersas Assyriorum opes luxuria Sardanapali transtulit <in Medos> eosque iustissime rexit. [2] Astyages, uir fortis et iustus, qui per insidias uictus a Cyro est et dissolutum est Mediae regnum.

XIII: The kings of the Persians.

[1] Cyrus, rex fortissimus, qui maiore parte Asiae subacta Europam quoque inrupisset ni a Tomyre Scytharum regina uictus oppressusque esset. [2] Cambyses, filius aeque Cyri, qui cum LXX milia hominum subegisset in Aegypto et regem eius Amasin, Aethiopiam profectus, magna parte militum per famem amissa, inritus rediit; urbem tamen ibi condidit Meroen; is qui Apin sacrum bouem interfici iusserat, ira deorum ex equo praeceps super gladium suum ruit extinctusque est. [3] Darius rex, unus ex septem Persis hinnitu equi regnum adsecutus, cum CCLXX milibus Europam transiuit. Victus ab Atheniensibus ducente Miltiade apud paludem Marathoniam discessit. [4] Xerxes, Darii filius, cum recessisset pater eius, aliquantis nauibus armatis militibus in Europam transiuit contabulato Hellesponto et forato Atho monte nec quicquam aliud egit quam ut Athenas incideret. Mari uictus a Lacedaemoniis et Atheniensibus, in Asiam rediit ibique suorum fraude interfectus est.

XIV: Generals (duces) and kings of the Lacedaemonians.

[1] Eurysthenes et Procles gemini qui genus ab Heraclidis deducentes primi Spartae regna regnauerunt. [2] Lycurgus legum lator quibus Lacedaemonii principes Graeciae per annos septingentos innisi fuerunt. [3] Theopompus et Polydorus reges qui Messenium bellum XX annis gesserunt. [4] Othryades, uir bellator qui, Messenio bello quo centeni, id est quinquageni, concertauerunt, trophaeum suo sanguine scripsit. [5] Tyrtaeus qui Messenio bello ex oraculo Apollinis dux ab Atheniensibus per ludibrium missus, poemate suo ita militum animos concitauit ut tam diuturnum proelium uictoria consummarent. [6] Leonidas, dux Persico bello, qui cum trecentis Lacedaemoniis apud Thermopylas totam uim Persici belli morte sua <ac> suorum obtinuit. [7] Pausanias qui Persico bello Mardonium praefectum Xerxis cum pedestribus copiis apud Asopum Boeotiae flumen debellauit; mox proditionis a rege suspectus [idem Mardonius] ideoque accusatus in asylum Mineruae confugit et ibi fame confectus est. [8] Lysander dux qui dominantem toto mari classem Atticam apud Aegos potamos oppressit et uictis Atheniensibus XXX tyrannos inposuit. [9] Xanthippus, uir Lacedaemoniorum fortissimus, qui bello punico primo Carthaginiensibus dux missus Regulum cepit. [10] Agesilaus cuius inuentum est in hostili quam in sua terra pugnare ideoque in Asiam missus, uastata ea, cum iam Regi immineret, reuocatus Athenienses apud Coroneam uicit; postea apud Corinthios fleuit quod decem milia Graecorum occisa cognouisset nec uoluit Corinthum delere cum posset.

XV: The most famous kings and generals of the Athenians.

[1] Cecrops rex qui urbem condidit Athenas et ex suo nomine Cecropidas appellauit ciues; idem fabulose, quia indigena fuit, ab inguinibus serpens fuisse narratur. [2] Erichthonius rex, qui mysteria Eleusinae constituit, Celeo hospite, Eumolpo sacerdote, filiabus uirginibus ministris, Triptolemo frugum praefecto qui fame laborantem Graeciam circumlato frumento restituit. [3] Pandion rex, qui filias suas Procnen et Philomelam Thraciae regibus tradidit, ut barbaras sibi gentes adfinitate sociaret. [4] Theseus, Aegei filius, qui Minotaurum interfecit. [5] Demophon, Thesei filius, qui cum Graecis Ilium expugnauit. [6] Codrus rex, qui pro salute et uictoria patriae, secundum oraculum Apollinis, bello Peloponnesio se deuouit. [7] Pisistratus, uir fortis et sapiens, qui aduersus principes populari causa tyrannidem inuasit eamque iustissime administrauit. [8] Harmodius et Aristogiton, homines plebei, qui Hippiam et Hipparchum, Pisistrati filios saeue dominantes, facta coniuratione oppresserunt, ideoque ut conseruatoribus diuini honores eis sunt constituti. [9] Miltiades dux, qui LXXX milia militum Persarum Darii regis praefectis Date et Tisapherne in saltu Marathonio superauit. [10] Aristides Dicaeos, qui hoc agnomen moribus est consecutus: ob <id> ipsum exilio multatus est. [11] Cimon dux, qui Persico bello [et] Xerxis copias, pedestris simul atque naualis, in ipsa Asia apud Eurymedonta fluuium uno die uicit. [12] Alcibiades dux, uir genere, copia, opibus illustris, qui propter detruncatos nocte Mercurios reus factus ad Lacedaemonios tum confugit Peloponensi bello, et, cum fecisset eos superiores, adflictorum ciuium misertus rediit in patriam et, dux creatus, iterum uictores Athenienses fecit. [13] Thrasybulus, qui triginta magistratus Lacedaemonios tyrannidis dominatione saeuientis facta coniuratione adflixit et libertatem Atheniensibus reddidit. [14] Conon dux, qui omnes Lacedaemoniorum copias apud Cnidum insulam cepit et imperium maris Athenis restituit. [15] Dion, qui octo onerariis nauibus Dionysium regem Siciliae centum rostratas habentem, dum in Italiam abest, regno expulit occupatis Syracusis. [16] Iphicrates, rei militaris peritissimus, qui arma habiliore pondere et modo fecit. [17] Phocion, qui uir bonus cognominatus est, neque ulla pecunia a Philippo potuit sollicitari ut ad eum discederet; qui admonentibus amicis ut liberis suis consuleret: „si boni,“ inquit, „erunt, hic agellus eis sufficiet, si mali, nihil“. [18] Chabrias dux, qui gladiatoria arte pugnare militem docuit, Cypron et Naxon et omnes Asiaticas insulas Athenis adiunxit, et circa Chion nauali bello occidi maluit quam abiectis armis enatare. [19] Demetrius Phalereus, uir bonus existimatus ideoque „ob insignem iustitiam“ statuis CCC est honoratus quas ei „pro libertate posuerunt in facie publica“.

XVI: Kings of the Macedonians.

[1] Philippus, Amyntae filius, primus Macedonum obtinuit Thraciam redegitque in suam potestatem et, cum transire in Asiam uellet, sub ipso belli apparatu in theatro a Pausania est interfectus. [2] Alexander, Philippi et Olympiadis filius, ex urbe Pella Macedoniae cum milibus XL militum in Asiam transiit et Darium regem Persarum primum apud Granicum fluuium, tum apud Issum Ciliciae, tertio apud Arbela, tribus proeliis trecenta peditum, <quinquaginta> equitum, duo milia falcatorum curruum uicit; mox regem Indorum et omnes Asiae gentes sub potestate sua redegit et nobilissimas urbes Asiae cepit, Pasargadas, Bactra, Susa, Babylonam, ubi etiam defunctus, dubius uinolentia an ueneno, cum tamen prius et Africam peragrasset usque ad Iouem Ammonem et Oceanum primus omnium nauigasset. [3] Philippus, qui post Alexandrum Macedonem septimo gradu Macedoniae regnauit, inuectus in Graeciam, cum saeue dominaretur, a Sulpicio consule in Phocide uictus est, mox a Flaminino in Macedonia Thessalidi apud Cynocephalas, ubi dato obside filio Demetrio regni parte multatus est. [4] Perses Philippus, Philippi filius, cum maximis copiis Macedoniis [et] cum impetum in Graeciam fecisset, cum inanibus elephantorum simulacris a Marcio consule apud Ascuridem paludem uictus, praecipitatis in mare thesauris, profugit; mox ab Aemilio Paulo tota Macedonia fugatus, Samothracam confugit in asylum unde, data fide cum se Paulo commisisset, ante currum eius in triumphum productus, mox libera custodia in Albano consenuit. [5] Pseudophilippus, uir plebeius et degener, cum ex similitudine formae Philippi filium se persuasisset et Macedonas in bellum excitasset, inter initia tumultus comprehensus sub custodia missus est Romam ubi cum ex custodia aufugisset, concitata rursus Macedonia Thraciam bello recepit; in arce regni paludatus ius dixit, mox a Caecilio Metello ingenti proelio uictus cum profugisset in Thraciam, a regibus deditus et in triumphum deportatus.

XVII: Kings of the Romans*

*A strangely incomplete list, compared to the usual tradition.

  • (1) Romulus, who founded the city.
  • Numa Pompilius, who instituted the rituals (sacra).
  • Tullus Hostilius, who destroyed (the city of) Alba.
  • Ancus Martius, who established many laws and founded the colony of Ostia.

XVIII: The most famous generals of the Romans

[1] Brutus, qui pro libertate publica liberos suos interfecit. [2] Valerius Publicola, qui propter eamdem libertatem aduersus Tarquinios bellum exercuit, idem ius libertatis dando populum ampliauit. [3] Mallius Torquatus, qui ad confirmandam castrorum disciplinam filium suum interfecit. [4] Quinctius Cincinnatus, item Seranus, cui aranti dictatura delata est. [5] Camillus, qui Senonum gente deleta Gallorum incensam ab eis Vrbem restituit. [6] Fabii duo, quorum alter una pugna Etruscos, Samnitas, Vmbros Gallosque subegit, libertinos e tribubus repurgauit ideoque Maximus cognominatus, alter Fabius Hannibalem mora fregit, ex quo Cunctator est cognominatus. [7] Papirius Cursor: hic Samnites, qui Romanos sub iugum pugnando miserant, uictos ignominia pari adfecit et a uelocitate Cursor est appellatus. [8] Curius: cum in foco rapas torreret, offerentibus „malo“, inquit, „in fictilibus meis <esse> et aurum habentibus imperare“. [9] Fabricius Luscinus, qui Cornelium Rufinum consularem uirum senatu amouit, luxuriae et auaritiae damnatum, quod decem pondo argenti possideret. [10] Claudius Marcellus, qui Hannibalem primus in Campania proelio uicit idemque docuit in bello quomodo equites sine fuga cederent. [11] Scipiones duo quorum alter prior Africanus, qui Hannibalem et in eo Africam debellauit, alter Scipio minor Numantinus qui, Carthaginem et Numantiam diruendo, [et] in hac Africam, in illa Hispaniam fregit. [12] Quintus Nero, qui Hannibale in Apulia relicto uenientem ab Hispania Hasdrubalem excepit copiasque eius uno die apud Metaurum flumen deuicit, qui si se cum Hannibale iunxisset, dubitari non potest paria eis p.R. effecturum non fuisse. [13] Paulus, qui cum Macedoniam uicisset et Graeciam liberasset et opulentissimum triumphum reportasset, inter ipsos triumphi dies amissis duobus liberis, pro contione dixit gratias se agere fortunae quod in suam potius domum quam in rem publicam saeuisset. [14] Duo Metelli, quorum alter Macedonicus, deuictis Macedonibus, qui Contrebiam, inexpugnabilem Hispaniae ciuitatem, iussis testamenta scribere et uetitis redire nisi uicissent militibus, occupauit, alter Numidicus, uicta Numidia, qui cum pemiciosas rei publicae leges ferret Apuleius tribunus plebis totusque senatus in eas iurasset, maluit in exilium ire quam iurare: huius filius Pius cognominatus est, quod patrem in exilium secutus est. [15] Gaius Marius, qui in Africa Numidis, in Gallia Cimbris Teutonibusque superatis a caliga peruenit usque septimum consulatum. [16] Sulla, qui bello ciuili uictoria perpotitus Romanum primus inuasit imperium solusque deposuit. [17] Sertorius, qui proscriptus a Sulla cum in exilium profugisset, quam breuissimo tempore prope totam Hispaniam redegit in suam potestatem et ubique aduersante fortuna insuperabilis fuit. [18] Lucullus, qui Asiacae prouinciae spoliis maximas opes est consecutus et aedificiorum tabellarumque pictarum studiosissimus fuit. [19] Pompeius, qui Armenios sub rege Tigrane, Ponticos sub rege Mithridate, Cilicas toto mari dominantis intra quadragesimum diem uicit et magnam partem Asiae inter oceanum Caspium Rubrumque uictoriis suis triumphisque peragrauit. [20] Gaius Caesar, qui Gallias Germaniasque subegit et primus Romanorum nauigauit Oceanum in quo Britanniam inuenit et uicit. [21] Iulius Caesar Augustus, qui perpacatis omnibus prouinciis exercitus toto orbe terrarum disposuit et Romanum imperium ordinauit, post cuius consecrationem perpetua Caesarum dictatura dominatur.

XIX: Romans who were famous in the toga (=civic office).

[1] Menenius Agrippa, qui dissidentem populum senatui conligauit atque conciliauit. [2] Appius Caecus, qui pacem Pyrrhi diremit ne populus qui suis parere noluerat sub externis regibus regeretur. [3] Tiberius Gracchus, qui Scipionem Asiaticum, quamuis inimicum haberet, non est passus a tribunis in carcerem duci, quod diceret nefas ibi esse Scipionem ubi captiui illius adhuc alligati tenerentur: hic est Gracchorum pater, qui in tribunatu, cum agrariis legibus seditiones excitarent, interfecti sunt. [4] Decimus Brutus Callaecus, qui Gracchum generum agrariis legibus rei publicae statum turbantem cum Opimio consule oppressit. [5] M. Brutus, qui Pompeii partes secutus mox a Caesare restitutus in mortem eius coniurauit quod affectare nomen regium uideretur. [6] Liuius Drusus, qui agrariis legibus promulgatis summum p. R. fauorem consecutus, ne promissa perficeret, per insidias a Philippo consule domi suae interfectus est. [7] Lutatius Catulus, qui Lepidum acta Sullae rescindere uolentem admoto exercitu Italia fugauit et solus omnium sine sanguine bellum ciuile confecit. [8] Cato censorius, qui totiens accusatus est; quoad uixit nocentis accusare non destitit; hic est omnium rerum peritissimus et, ut Sallustio Crispo uidetur, Romani generis disertissimus. [9] [Cato] Cato praetorius, qui bello ciuili partes Pompeii secutus mori maluit quam superstes esse rei <p.> seruienti. [10] Scaurus, qui uetuit filium in conspectum suum uenire quia bello Cimbrico deseruerat. [11] Scipio Nasica: quia non rite inauguratus consul uideretur, consulatu se abdicauit et domitis Dalmatis oblatum a senatu triumphum repudiauit statuasque quas sibi quisque in publico posuerat in censura sua sustulit; censuit in senatu tamen Carthaginem non esse delendam, propterea optimus iudicatus. [12] Cornelius Cethegus, qui fratrem suum Cethegum quod cum Catilina coniurasset morte multandum censuit. [13] Tullius Cicero, qui in consulatu suo Catilinae coniurationem fortissime oppressit.