29 October 2008

Florus’ Epitome is now online at LacusCurtius: original Latin, and the English translation by E. S. Forster, Loeb edition, 1929. Those not familiar with the work will find a sort of timeline of Roman military history, the wars of 700 years, as the manuscript headings put it, easily read in two hours: a good orientation to Roman history.

Several Latin texts of the Epitome preceded me online — although the one most people refer to was very poorly proofread, with at least three skips of entire lines, and many, many grammatical errors or problems with verbs that change the meaning of sentences, often nonsensically (hey, at least there was a human being rather than a scanner behind all those mistakes) — and one English translation; but not a Latin translation with a facing English, one-stop shopping as it were.

Florus traditionally gets bad press for being inaccurate, rhetorical, and dull. I’d never read him, and had never read the critics either: to my fresh eye he comes out as having done a very good job of presenting 700 years of history in a nicely readable summary, I’d be very hard put to do as well; plus the man has a quirky, dry sense of humor which I think a lot of those critics missed altogether. In sum, not dull at all.