Prg 1. Tacitus and Poggio Bracciolini
Compositions of the famous Tacitus who gave us his expanded picture of The Emperors' Rome from Tiberius till Vespasian (for example see I. M. Troysky's article "Cornelius Tacitus" in ref 48) in masterly dramatic exposition appear to be one of our main sources on The Ancient Rome history.
Tacitus' personality and his compositions
PUBLIUS CORNELIUS TACITUS considered to be born during Nero about 55AD (this date is calculated according to cloudy designations of other authors, Plinius Jr. for example) and died during Adriane about 120AD. Tacitus' feather possesses "Biography of Agricola", "On origins, residence and mores of German people" etc. But the main studies by Tacitus appear the following:
1) "Chronicles" ("Annals"), containing The Roman Empire history during Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero;
2) "History", describing Galba, Ottone and Vitelius' "Time of Troubles" till Vespasian's rise to power.
Loads of strange obscurities and anachronisms in "Chronicles" and "History" was directing historical criticism to a doubt in reliability of Tacitus' legends for long time already. Here we will limit ourselves with giving a short exposition of criticism in regard to Tacitus, mainly following A. Amfiteatrov (see ref 8). A. Amfiteatrov's book is providing an objective exposition of history of Tacitus' criticism, namely Ross and Hoshar's works and this exposition is even more valuable for us because Amfiteatrov himself still doesn't want to reject the idea of Tacitus' reliability. Citing ref 8 we will allow ourselves to replace transcription "PoggIo Bracciolini" that Amfiteatrov is using with modern "Poggio Bracciolini". In the rest of cases we leave all the features of Amfiteatrov's text unchanged.
Criticism on Tacitus
It looks like the beginning of critical wave was set by Walter in his "The Philosophy Vocabulary". Lengeau The Advocate's polemical study whom Marabou has called "The Nero Advocate" is less known. One of the first people in Russia who's got a doubt even if not in Tacitus' facts themselves but at least in his assessment of these facts was Pushkin but only since the late XIX century serious historical studies completely rejecting authenticity of Tacitus' books have began to appear. Walter's criticism was more of a political kind: heyday of Tacitus' negative treatment was still ahead and it has reached its apogee in Germany, France and England. In Germany Tacitus has undergone thorough criticism of Mommsen, Shtare, Leman and especially Sivers and German Schiller when the latter in his two capital studies ("History of The Roman Empire during Nero's reign" and "History of The Roman Emperors' epoch") treated Tacitus almost just like tendentious pamphleteer, very talented and abundant in material but unscrupulous with it. In France Amadeus Tierrie was calling to careful treatment of Tacitus' data, warning against his aristocratically-nationalistic viewpoints. In England Charles Merival had similar opinion and basing off his studies M. A. Dragomanov's book "Question of historical meaning of The Roman Empire and Tacitus" appeared in Russia in 60s of XIX century. In this criticism we are interested the most about an alarming fact how in his political views Tacitus appear as a supporter of Italian type aristocratic republic of XIII-XIV centuries' period.
"New skeptical onflow has begun in late 70s on XIX century and continued in 80s and 90s now denying not facts or visions of Tacitus but Tacitus himself: authenticity and ancientry of his compositions. It's interesting how a hypothesis about forgery of Tacitus' manuscripts appeared in England and France at the same time. Englishman Ross has started it with his book of "Tacitus and Bracciolini" published in 1878... In France P. Hoshar... also known as G. Dakber... took the same route in his main three studies: "Etudes on Seneca's life" (1882-1885), "Etudes on the matter of persecution of Christians during Nero" (1885) and "On authenticity of "Annals" and "History" by Tacitus" (1890)... in which he's (Hoshar - Auth) revealing absolutely new views of facts putting faithful confidence in Tacitus' authority into hopeless deadlocks.
Hoshar's system of forgery evidences for imaginary historical compositions of Tacitus (and their attribution to Poggio Bracciolini's feather - Auth) is combined out of several basic statements.
1. Doubtfulness both of manuscripts in whose form compositions of Tacitus has come to us and of circumstances in which these manuscripts were discovered through the involvement of Poggio Bracciolini.
2. Complete or relative impossibility of Tacitus to write many things included in "Annals" and "Stories" according to conditions of his era.
3. Signs of The Renaissance in the text of pseudo-Tacitus. (I didn't add anything-tr)
4. Exaggerated opinion about Tacitus' dignity as Latin classicist. (By the way typical for XV century love to secular pornography combined with other circumstances also immediately makes similar suspicions to arouse in regard to Petronius (also found by Poggio) and in regard to Juvenal, Marcial and many other classicists. - Auth)
5. Latest (according to commonly accepted chronology of literature) main historians-witnesses of Rome (Joseph Flavius, Plutarch, Suetonius, Dio Cassius, Tertullian, Pavel Orosius, Sulpicius Sever etc.) didn't borrow his data from Tacitus but on opposite imaginary Tacitus is just a distributor and amplificator of intelligence that he drawn from ones named above having them all at his disposal and assorting them the way he liked.
6. Litheraturical talent, classical education and fraudful personality of Poggio Bracciolini worked exactly on the benefit of taste and demands of his age demanding revival of dead ancient gods, artists and authors.
7. Poggio Bracciolini was interested and capable of committing this great forgery - and he committed it.
Let's begin with biography of suggested pseudo-Tacitus, Poggio Bracciolini." (ref 8, p 356-358)
"Poggio Bracciolini was born 1380 in Terra Nuova, small town nearby Florence and in early age he has already became known as young man of outstanding education and sharp mind. He has began his serving career during cardinal Barrie but we can soon see him at pope Bonifatio IX's court in rank of copyist...
Little by little he rose to a rank of secretary... one of editor officials whose duty was correcting official documents (correspondence, charters, resolutions) sent from pope's name.
He still remained in this rank during popes Innokentius VII and Gregory XII. In Bologna where apostolic throne was moved temporarily he was with Alexander V when this pope died from poisoning - at least that's what everyone's voice of rumor was saying - by Balthazar Cossa, a former pirate, later archidiaconal at Diocese of Rolone and finally Alexander V's successor, pope of Rome with a name of Jonah XXIII. Poggio, a man of complaisant conscience and typical representative of his unscrupulous age remained secretary with a new pope too. He followed Jonah to 1414 congress in Constance. But when Jonah was dethroned by this congress (1415) Poggio lost his position and as one would say, was left in a void.
Sometime later he has entered the service of Henry Bothore who was brother of king Henrico IV, bishop and later cardinal of Winchester. He met this rich and powerful prelate in Constance. Bothore was playing vital role in The Church affairs back then as an Authorized Representative from English people. Poggio has arrived in England in September 1418 as a part of entourage of his new patron. But realizing he's made a mistake in his calculations of coming rich profits, in 1422 he's already in Florence again and then in Rome. Johan XXIII's successor pope Martin V has returned Poggio his old position of secretary at the holy throne.
Italy of XV century is rich with educated minds but Bracciolini is one of the brightest and remarkable among them.
He learnt Latin from Giovanni Malpagini of Ravenna, friend of Petrarch; he learnt Greek from Chrisolore... he also knew Jewish. He studied ancientry with ardent passion. He could almost never be seen other way than reading Latin or Greek book or writing notes about it. He was a real library swallower. When he was young he had at his disposal the richest collection of library of Colucho Salutati, The Florence Republic chancellor whose books "more belonged to any sciences' hunter than himself". In London he used Bothore's magnificent book storage, who's "wandering eternally like a Scythian while I'm digging myself into books in my free time". Library of the pope's palace in Rome doesn't satisfy Poggio, he's writing to his friends every now and then: send me this and this composition. A list of antique writers he has researched, both Pagan and Christian is truly grandiose. He's an antiquary and numismatist parsing and interpreting inscriptions and medals; at his villa in Val-d'Arno he's collected beautiful museum of antiquities purchased by himself personally or on his instructions in Italy, Greece and in The East. He's a first-class Latinist. "Chiropody" by Xenophon and of first five books by Diodore The Sicilian translated from Greek to Latin by his feather. In his original studies he's a writer of the first-class talent shining not only with almost impossible erudition but also with talent's flexibility on the same scale. His philosophical and ethical tractates ("On miserliness", "On nobleness", "On misfortune of sovereigns", "On wretchedness of human existence") are worthy of Cicero and Seneca. He can discuss theological questions and Christianic virtues with a language that without Bracciolini's signature anyone would mistake for language of one of the Fathers of The Church. Trying to keep up with Plinius who's enraptured Bracciolini he has wrote "On mores of The Indians" book. He has made extremely interesting archeological guide for research of roman monuments (De varietate fortunae). He tells a story of Venice man Niccoli de Conti's journey in Persia. Translates Manilius' "Astronomicon" to Italian. Does a good sir want a satire of Petronius style? Poggio offers his extremely acrimonious "Historia convivales" ("The Tableful History") scourging lawyer and medic charlatans who has become lords of their age and profiteer both huge power and huge capital with human stupidity. Does good sir want historical study like Tacitus' "Chronicles"? That's what "Historia Florentina" ("The Florence History") is like, a story of clear and accurate tone, solid picture, bright coloring and full of artistic images and personalities and also deeply insightful in its judgment and foresight. After all Poggio's great glory was continuously strengthened and supported with witty and sage letters he was exchanging with the great people of this world (with Nikolai, Laurentius and Cosmos Medici, with Herzogs Sforza, Visconti, Leonello D'Este, with king Alfonso The Aragonian), with a majority of modern cardinals and with almost all of the remarkable personalities of his age. Poggio Bracciolini's splendid letters were going through many hands to be reread, rewritten, replacing newspapers and magazines for Italian intelligentsia of XV century. In a word, this resplendent imitator was his century's ruler of the minds in a full sense of these words. Criticism was placing him on the same level with the greatest authors of The Renaissance. His honorariums prove how high he was valued: for dedication of "The Chiropody" to Alfonso The Aragonian, Poggio was given 600 gold - 7200 franks. With a value of money back then this was a huge capital. Literature has advanced him to a rank of statesmen and he has ended his life at a height of important and powerful rank as a chancellor of The Florence Republic. He was a center of his modern literature to such an extent that many people used to find it possible to define first half of Italian XV century as "The Poggio Age". Even in France his name has disappeared in a family abbreviation of historical common knowledge - "Le Pogge". During his lifetime Florence has erected for him a statue of his own that was cut with Donatello's chisel. At first it stood under portico of Santa Maria del Fiere cathedral, now it's carried inside the church itself.
These were light sides of this remarkable person. Now let's observe shadow ones.
The great writer had a disgusting personality which made him to quarrel all the Litheraturical celebrities of his age (Aurispa, Guarino, Vissarionus, but Filelfo and Valla especially). In their polemics all of these big people are not a bit better of a person than their poisonous and ferocious opponent though. Ploicianus called Poggio "the most vile-speeched person in a world: he's always either jumping towards sovereigns or attacking human customs without any distinguishing or either he rankle writings of a scientist of some kind - nobody can rest of him!". Seems like he was quite voluptuary and closer to an old age he have raised this little passion if his to a size of a fair shamelessness. When he was an old man already he has married a young girl and in his tractate "Should old men marry?" dedicated to Cosmos Medici he cynically explained his marriage with an aphorism that it's never too late for a person to find his way towards decent lifestyle...
In a city of Constance he lives a grand style of reveler and womanizer everywhere, he likes lewd artworks stories and poems much and in an old age he's also its diligent and unbridled composer himself which makes Valla to reproach him harshly. In one word, in this scientist we can see just as big talent of living on his own pleasure as big his creative talent is: typical Florence baron aesthete and bourgeois, XV century epicurean with a beautiful dream and lowland life, the volcano man having either living flame sprinkling or smelly dirt flowing out of him all the time" (ref 8 p 358-363).
Poggio's activity of search and publishing of antique compositions
"Grand style of his life was cost much for Poggio Bracciolini surpassing his income since his young age and making him to live in eternal need of money. His source of additional income appeared to be his search, preparation and editing of the antique authors' copies (literally lists or write-offs - tr) basing on authentic manuscripts. Back in XV century that have aspired to resurrecting ancientry greedily this was very profitable budget item. With a help of Florence city scientist, book publisher and bookseller Niccolo Niccoli (1363-1437) who was a king of literature market at the time, Poggio Bracciolini set up something like a permanent studio for processing of antique literature, attracting a whole series of employees and contractors into this business who had very good education and abilities but everyone of them had dark spots on their reputation: here we can see Cinco The Roman, Bartolommeo di Montepulchano, Piero Lamberteski. Niccolo Niccoli was lending Poggio his working capital and served him as his agent for manuscript selling which means he basically was his publisher - and a very jealous and commanding publisher. This was a very imperious and irascible person. Even such aces of literature like Leonardo Aretin, Manuil Chrisolor, Guarino and Arispa he could twist like a ram's horn and when he quarreled with them he has literally forced them to leave Florence.
During the age of gathering in a city of Constance, Poggio Bracciolini and Bartolommeo di Montepulcano have made their first discoveries and then deposition of Johan XXIII's have put them in quite a critical position as abolished secretaries of the pope. In a forgotten and damp tower of The Saint Gallen Monastery "a tower in which a prisoner wouldn't survive for three days" they were happy to find a bunch of ancient manuscripts: compositions of Quintilian, Valerius Flakkus, Asconius Pedianus, Nonius Marcellus, Probus etc. (we want to emphasize how here it was a first time for all of these authors to be found - Auth). This discovery has not only made a sensation but also an entire age of literature. There can't be any doubt how Niccoli who had a lion's share of this treasure, has amassed very good out of it and was dreaming of amassing even more. Poggio who was encouraged with a huge success was digging diligently (from his own words - Auth) through monastery libraries of England and Germany but he couldn't find anything or he could only find bits and pieces. From his words though he still could deliver "Bucolicas" by Calpurneus and several units of Petronius to Niccoli (most likely fragments of his previous compositions; nobody and never has explained circumstances of these and all the later findings - Auth).
But even if no new original manuscripts could be found yet trade of copies was still going strong. A manuscript that was coming out of Poggio's workshop was valued very high. Meanwhile in his letters he's every now and then demanding paper, parchment, bookbindery buttstock from Niccoli and if publisher is late with delivery Poggio begins crying how he has to feed his artisan for free because of untidy workflow. One has to think how these artisans were not people of a pleasant kind. For XV century society scribes had a poor reputation. One notarius from late XIV century in his letter to a friend exclaim with a kind of a triumph that could look surprising for us: "I have found an excellent scribe and - believe you or not! - he wasn't in prison for people in a hard labor". Of course scribes were mostly working on saleable secondary product only valuable with Poggio's editing. Amateur specimen were made by master himself and from the following example we can figure out how cruel his pricing was: after selling Alfonso The Aragonian a copy of Titus Livius he has made himself Poggio has spent a money he was paid to buy a villa in Florence. He has accepted a hundred of ducats (1200 franks) from Herzog d'Este for letters of Saint Hieronymus - doing this with a great dissatisfaction which looked like he was forced into it either by being low on money or late to complete his work and we should also consider how in an age of The Renaissance Fathers of the Church could not be sold from hands to hands as easily as Pagan philosophers. Among his clients Poggio had Medici, Sforza, d'Este, aristocratic families of England, Herzog house of Burgundy, Orsini cardinals, Cologne, just rich people like Bartolommeo di Bardio, universities using that exact times and a generosity of enlightened rulers for either establishing a library or widening their old book storages intensively. Poggio was making very big money so he has left his children with an excellent capital that they have wasted with an extreme rapidity. But there can be no doubt how for a very long time - till he was 40 at least - he lived bigger than his constant income was so I he wanted to get himself out of debt he needed some kind of emergency big score that he had to mine using equally emergent ways. And when he had to choose these ways he can never choose wisely.
This was the person who has found Tacitus. Now let's see what exactly did he found and how he did this" (ref 8 p 363-386)
Manuscripts of Tacitus
"Main manuscripts of Tacitus' "Chronicles" and "History" known as The First and The Second Medicean Copies are stored in Florence in book storage of "Bibliotheca Laurentiana". This book storage was founded by Cosmos Medici who donated his own library here along with Niccoli's library that Herzog has purchased after death of this famous publisher (1437). Poggio Bracciolini and Buondelmonti who was his father-in-law were among organizing directors of book storage. The Second Medicean Copy is more ancient than The First one even if not by origin then by publishing undoubtedly for 80 years. It's first page says clearly:
Cornelius Tacitus et Opera Apuleii.
Conventus sancti Marci de Florentia, ord.
Praedic. De heriditate Nicolai Nicoli
Florentissimi, viri Doctissimi
(Cornelius Tacitus and compositions of Apulei from books of Saint Mark monastery in Florence, of Preacher rank (?-tr). As a heritage from Niccolo Niccoli, valiant Florence citizen and extremely educated man)
From Tacitus this list contains 6 last books of "Chronicles" and 5 first books of "History". At these parts it appears as a prototype for all the rest copies claiming their ancientry: Farnes copy in Vatican, Budapest copy, Wolfenbuttel copy etc. First printed publishing of Tacitus released in Venice by Giovanni Spira or his brother Vandelline about 1470 they printed from The Second Medicean Copy or - according to a legend - from its precise copy that was stored in Venice in a library of Saint Mark cathedral. But copy has disappeared from it or may be never even been there: legend have just mixed two libraries with similar names. A usual and commonly accepted opinion on this copy says how it's a product of work performed by scribe monks from the famous benedictian desert of Monte-Cassino in Italy halfway between Rome and Neapol.
The First Medicean Copy was purchased by pope Lion X and then immediately published by him (1515) in Rome under control of Philippe Beroalde Jr.:
Comelii Tasiti historiarum libri quinque nuper in Germania inventi.
(5 books of "History" by Cornelius Tacitus recently found in Germany.)
These 5 books are initial "Chronicles" hugging the reign of Tiberius. This way it turned out how according to Beroalde's picturesque expression "Cornelius never did lost his head through the ages just hiding it instead". People think (not any kind of proof in present - Auth) how this copy was found in Corvei monastery and after being carried to Rome from there by some monk it was purchased for a pope by a certain Archimboldi who later has become a bishop of Milano. Corvei are a small town in Westphalia 65 kilometers southeast from Minden. It's benedictian monastery was founded by Ludovic The Good Soul in IX century played vital role during The Middle Ages as very important religious and political center.
Two Medicean Copies combined give us complete set of everything that has come to us out of Tacitus' historical compositions. Language, manner of presentation, tone - all the Litheraturical advantages and disadvantages - demonstrate undoubted unity of both copies proving how in both copies we've got a study of the same author on our hands. Before Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) all Tacitus' material contained in both collections was considered one solid composition. Justus Lipsius was the first who could see how despite visionary succession of contents "Annals" and "History" are actually two different studies - even if they do belong to the same author - so he has established its division approved ever since.
Style of handwriting appears to be an essential difference between two Medicean Copies. The Second Copy is performed with so called Lombardian writing, but The First is done with Caroling one (see figure in ref 5 - Auth).
Broadly speaking these are the most important features of two main Tacitus' copies that science acknowledged to be authentic in a course of over 3 centuries before Ross and Hoshar have touched this virgin reputation with their daring hands (In particular reviving suspicions of Poggio's contemporaries themselves - Auth). How exactly do they carry their attack?" (ref 8 p 366-368).
Legends of Tacitus' manuscripts
"Hoshar undoubtedly acknowledge how The Second Medicean Copy originates from Niccolo Niccoli's library but at the same time this attachment is the exact thing in which Hoshar can see a key to expose Poggio Bracciolini's forgery.
...How he (Tacitus - Auth) was known and read we know from his contemporaries (Plinius Jr.), from Christianity apologist Tertullian who was his enemy in 3rd century AD, from Flavius Vopisqus and blissful Hieronymus of 4th century, from Pablo Orosius and Sidonius Appolinarius of 5th century and from Cassiodorus of 6th century. (Let's make a comment how manuscripts of all these authors were also "discovered" in the same era with Tacitus' books mentioned above so actually these authors can't be used as a proof of Tacitus' authenticity - Auth). And then name of Tacitus disappeared from the memory of civilized world for many centuries. But it was much earlier when it has actually begun disappearing. Even though F. Vopisqus tells us quite flattering stories of Tacitus - how Tacitus The Emperor was proud to be his descendant and how he has commanded to all the public libraries of the empire to have copies of works of his great predecessor - but literature haven't kept even smallest signs of Tacitus' authority for us and how Servius, Priscionus, Nonius, Marcell who were The Latin Grammars at the end of The Roman Empire, diligent citers and numeraires of names of their literature don't recall Tacitus and obviously know nothing about him" (ref 8 p 368-369). So there's no way we can believe statement by apologists of Tacitus how "Tacitus wasn't there but a memory of him lived on".
I. M. Troysky (ref 48) is beginning his article about Tacitus saying "unlike his predecessors who were writing about the republic Tacitus when he was describing his activity of historian of The Roman Empire made a notion how his study is limited by narrow confines and will not bring him any glory ("Annals", IV, 32). To a certain extent these words have turned out to be prophetic". Not a single historian of The Emperors' Rome including Tacitus has become a "classic" of roman literature. Tacitus was not taught in roman schools: philologists (so-called grammars) who were keepers of scholar tradition were not interested in his works. For latest roman scientists an effect of this lack of attention appeared in complete absence of information about a life of this historian" (ref 48 v2 p203) By the way it means how the rest of roman historians of emperors' period didn't get any better treatment than Tacitus himself.
"In IX century (five hundred years later!) a name of Tacitus strangely surfaces in a chronicle by Freculf who was a bishop of Lisiex and in XI century it also surfaces in Johan The Salisburian's "Polycraticon" pamphlet directed against royalty. But Hoshar makes a notion how in both of these cases Tacitus is mentioned in such a general way not saying anything notable or anything its own about him that there's no any need to think how Freculf and Johan The Salusburean's libraries could possibly have Tacitus' compositions... (Actually we have to remember for the future how mention of Tacitus' name alone in any kind of source that doesn't have any details doesn't necessarily mean that very Tacitus that was found by Poggio - Auth).
There are monk legends of Tacitus' manuscripts allegedly preserved in monastery libraries in the famous benedictian desert at Monte-Cassino and in similar monastery of Fuld (in Germany nearby Cassel). First legend have grown out of mention in "Chronicle" by Desiderius who later (1086) has become pope Victor III how back in the day when he was a Hegumen of Monte-Cassini desert his monks under his control have made copies of 61 volumes of creations written by church and Pagan writers including "Cornelius' history with Homer" (Historiam Comelii cum Omero). According to monastery's chronicle majority of these books was stolen by thieves and soldiers of fortune robbing the desert. Hoshar is puzzled: what was the reason for these respected industrialists to rob monastery library at all and even if they still had to do this why would they carry away not something else but Tacitus exactly? Tacitus is not even mentioned in Desiderius' chronicle - this "History by Cornelius" could be for example Cornelius Nepot or any other of numerous roman writers all named Cornelius. Hoshar generally is quite skeptical in treating legends of treasures of The Middle Ages monastery libraries and he consider unnatural the very legend of Desiderius, a friend of Peter Damian - both are worst enemies of secular education - to make any kind of effort for preserving Pagan scriptures when both charter and personal antipathy were commanding him to destroy it. This is a late artifice and a concession for humanistic age. Abbot Rappe (abbe de la Trappe, 1626-1700, reformer of trappist order and author of "Life of St. Benedict") consider legends of written works of benedictians to be a guess not worthy to stop at. But the majority of historians still consider (without any documental reasons - Auth) The Second Medicean Copy to originate from Monte-Cassino and to be copied in the middle of IX or in XI century from some manuscript of IV or V century taken from Germany or France.
Fuld's legend is held on a citing in local monastery chronicle: "So in a city of Mimida on a river that Cornelius Tacitus the historian of feats committed by Romans among these people has called Visurgis (Veser) and historians of today call Visaraka". Basing on this people has made a conclusion how the chronicler had an authentic text of Tacitus' "Annals" in front of him...
Another legendary copy of Tacitus was allegedly made by hand of Giovanni Boccaccio for his own library. This library is intact but Tacitus - looks like this is just a fate of this writer - has disappeared from it and nobody knows where it went and when did this happened. Hoshar is puzzled: if this exemplar (did they miss "not"?-tr) existed then where would Boccaccio take original to rewrite from? People assume that he did from Monte-Cassino during his stay in Neapol. But since Hoshar rejects a legend of Tacitus' manuscript in Monte-Cassino library then naturally he can't approve a reference to it in Boccaccio legend. And Boccaccio himself says how his stay at Monte-Cassino was extremely short and how he was met in a very poor manner: so how and when could he possibly copy a manuscript if he needed not less than a solid month of work sitting at the table and using the fastest writing style to do that? And the main thing is - if Boccaccio would know Tacitus this historian would leave at least some kind of mark in his works - but none can be noticed. This effect is even more vivid in his historically-anecdotic work of "De casibus virorum et ferminarum illustrum" ("On adventures of the famous men and women") among other things Boccaccio speak about Tiberius, Nero, Galba, Otone, Vitellius - using Suetonius' data exclusively with a certain borrowings from Juvenalus and - about Christians from church legend. (?-tr) If Boccaccio would know Tacitus then being a great artist he was how would he speak of Agrippina's death without mentioning a great marine drama written by Tacitus or speak of the death of apostles Peter and Pavel without saying a single word about persecution of The Christians connected to the great fire of Rome? In a word, the most striking pages of Tacitus were left colorless and mute for Boccaccio; clearly he just didn't read them" (ref 8 p 369-373).
These are all the mentions of Tacitus before he was found by Poggio Bracciolini. So the entire length of The Middle Ages haven't had any kind of information stored anywhere that would speak of Tacitus' manuscripts existence so we have "to agree Ross and Hoshar when they state how in late XIV and early XV centuries nobody of educated people had the smallest idea of Tacitus. This was an ancientry's great and cloudy myth stored in hints of the antique books. The greats believed in its obscurity and of course they were dreaming: if only I could find it! Idealistic-minded scientists were dreaming about it, practically minded scientists were dreaming about it too. At that time palace pantries, monastery basements and trash of rag pickers have revealed many Litheraturical treasures of The Ancient World and brought many antique dead back to life of The Renaissance. There was a need to conclude a series of findings of The Roman Literature with Tacitus and every bookseller was understanding how finding Tacitus meant amassing a capital. So in the end the demand has created the supply: Tacitus was found" (ref 8 p 373-374).
"Being in Rome in November 1425 Poggio has informed Niccoli in Florence how "a certain monk, a friend of mine" offers a pack of ancient manuscripts that should be taken from Nurnberg and how they include "several works of Tacitus we don't know". Right away Niccoli has become lively interested and expressed his approval for a deal but to his surprise and concern a purchase of an offered rarity is delayed for two months at first and then for eight etc. Poggio is delaying this deal using various pretexts and excuses until in May 1427 Niccoli finds out how his friend is negotiating Tacitus' manuscript with Cosmos Medici. Poggio's answer for Niccoli's inquiry was quite entangled and only clear thing in it was how at the moment he haven't had Tacitus' book yet and only had a catalogue of German monastery of Herzfeld (this was the first time of him naming a monastery) in which among other important manuscripts (Ammienne Marcelline, Titus Livius' first decade of books, Cicero's speeches) a volume of Cornelius Tacitus is also present (Herzfeld is a little town in Gessen at Fuld; seems like a shared management was uniting local abbey with Fuld abbey). This also was a place when Poggio for the first time said how "monk" needs money; before this the deal was about exchanging old manuscripts with Niccoli's new religious editions. About this monk Poggio muddle and speak some kind of lie of unmerciful degree: monk is his friend but when a monk was in Rome he haven't visited Poggio for some reason so Poggio had to work to find him in a detour way; books are in Herzfeld but they have to be collected in Nurnberg etc. In conclusion of this all Poggio have forgotten at first to send Niccoli a Herzfeld catalogue he promised him and when an irritated publisher have demanded it to have it for himself and got it there was nothing like Tacitus in this catalogue. Following 1427 and 1428 have passed in this strange kind of red tape and confusion looking absolutely artificial. It was February 26, 1429 which marked three and half years since this correspondence have begun and now Poggio has finally informed Niccoli how this mysterious "Herzfeld monk" has arrived to Rome again... but he haven't had a book with him! Poggio assures how he had a scandal with a monk and how he was scared and has departed to Germany immediately to get Tacitus. "That's why I'm sure that soon we'll get this manuscript because this monk can't do without my protection in his monastery's business".
Poggio and Niccoli's correspondence about Herzfeld's Tacitus was over with this because their personal meeting was coming: Poggio have spent summer of 1429 in Toscana. A circumstance of him actually getting Tacitus at this time, from Germany as he was saying hollowly, is indubitable. An honor of discovering Tacitus with insistence of search coming from Niccoli's side and also through the medium of some unknown monk was ascribed to Poggio in XVIII century by both abbot Megieu who was a literature of XV century's expert and Tiraboski (1731-1794).
Protracted in a period just barely not reaching 5 years, Poggio's discovery was resounded even earlier than it was committed and strange rumors was already circulating around it. Niccoli was very nervous but Poggio was answering
"I know all these songs that are sung about this and where do they come from; and I can tell you about them: when Cornelius Tacitus will arrive I will purposely and nicely hide it from outsiders as revenge."
Hoshar makes a fair comment here, how
"One would think how the most natural way to protect manuscript from bad rumors would be showing it to the entire scientific world and explaining all the paths, ways and secrets of its origin. But on opposite, once again Poggio is promising to act cunning and play dark."
We don't know if Poggio and Niccoli have immediately published copies of Tacitus that this mysterious monk has made them happy with, if there was a monk at all of course. We think that they haven't. They kept their treasure for themselves purposefully making its price to inflate over time. Copies of works by various authors were more expensive the rarer they were. So exemplars of Tacitus that firm was artistically reproducing were going to such highly ranked buyers as Petro Medici, Matthew Corsin etc. - but they weren't in common circulation and this is a possible explanation for scientific criticism's long silence about Tacitus. For example let's take Policiano (1454-1494) who either haven't seen new Tacitus at all or considered it suspicious because just like Boccaccio that we mentioned above, Policiano in his etude about Suetonius and Caesars doesn't go into Tacitus at all while still talking about him with much of honor from Plinius' and Vopisque's words though. We're getting even more curious about it knowing how Policiano should've known printed publishing of Tacitus already (1470 at Spirra's publishing in Venice)...
But there's more and Machiavelli who later was compared to Tacitus so often was indicating visualiastically and strikingly how even in early XVI century first class historian and politician could discuss imperialistic questions that were reminding Tacitus' analogies so burningly but he could still just pass by him like this historian didn't even exist... This completely contradicts Gaston Buasseux's statement how Tacitus has allegedly become desk book for Italian nobility and like a handbook of palace politics since the second half of XIV century...
It makes one curious how in much later publishing of letters written by him and Niccoli, Poggio has lost a sight of dates that his 1425-1429 correspondence about Tacitus was dated with so he had some kind of retroactive continuity intention when he was falsifying dates of December 28, 1427 and June 5, 1428 in his two newly published letters in which he's asking: "You have sent me a volume of Seneca and Cornelius Tacitus. Thank you. But the latter is performed with The Lombard Handwriting and the majority of letters has worn off. But at your place in Florence I saw another exemplar written with ancient handwriting (The Carolin one)... It's hard to find a scribe who would be able to correctly read this copy that you have sent me. Please find the one for me. You can always do this if you want to." In his second letter Poggio assures Niccoli how he have sent him a decade of Titus Livius and Cornelius Tacitus with a medium of Bartolommeo de Bardis. "Your Tacitus lacks several pages in several places of manuscript" etc.
With a series of quite comprehensive evidences and with an exception of the third Hoshar determines for a fact how a manuscript with The Lombardian Letters and missing pages couldn't be anything but this The Second Medicean Copy that's considered the most ancient exemplar of Tacitus ever. Poggio also makes it clear how there's also some other ancient Tacitus at his and Niccoli's disposal written with The Antique (The Carolin) letters. Dating of these letters - it looks like one can't have a doubt about this - is forged, composed post factum of Tacitus with Niccoli's name on it saw the world so they will strengthen reputation of The First Medicean (The Lombardian) copy that went into everyday life of various princely libraries and will also prepare the way for The Second Medicean Copy (with The Carolin Handwriting). The history has moved their order: Poggio's first Tacitus has become The Second Medicean and Poggio's the second Tacitus have become The First Medicean - this is what Hoshar consider and prove believable in many ways.
Inspecting a history of origin of The First Medicean Copy (with Carolin Handwriting) one can't avoid noticing how a legend that was surrounding Niccolo Niccoli's copy 80 years ago is repeated. Once more there's The Northern Monastery onstage and once more there are some mysterious unnamed monks. Some German enoch brings first five units of "The Annals" to pope Lev X. In his delight pope allegedly appoints this enoch for a publisher of this composition. Enoch refuses saying that he's of a little literacy. In a word, a legend of The Second Medicean Copy's provider, a Herzfeld monk, rises from the dead - but now this legend was moved to Corvei. As it was already mentioned, this legend names Archimboldi as a bargaining mediator - who was collector of taxes for The Holy Throne in that time and was later archbishop of Milano. But Archimboldi haven't mentioned circumstance of this mediation with even a single word while Lev X - with Archimboldi's mediation allegedly - has paid 500 sequins for a manuscript, that would be 6000 franks, this was an entire capital considering the price of money in these times. For Hoshar these eternal mysterious monks without name, place of origin and place of residence are continuators of falsification system brought into play by Poggio Bracciolini. Nobody and never sees or knows them but today one of them has brought a lost decade by Titus Livius from Switzerland or Denmark and tomorrow another one will bring Tacitus from Corvei or Fuld etc. - for some reason it's always from a distant and hard to reach North and always with a product one wants and book market of the era lacks.
Talking about Corvei monastery in particular where The First Medicean Copy allegedly originate from we've got quite a negative testimony in a letter of Poggio Bracciolini himself that he has addressed to Niccolo Niccoli and have sent it, back when he was in England saying how he knows this German monastery like the five fingers and - don't believe these fools there's no any rarities at it! Strongly nobody knows and nothing is known among scientists who were closest in time (including his first publisher Bersfeld) about Tacitus' find in a monastery of Corvei. Everybody vaguely speak of Germany just like it also was in times of Niccolo Niccoli. Archimboldi's contemporaries and friends - Ulcati, Ugelli - say nothing about his role in such an important and glorious discovery of the century. But there's more and Ugelli recommend Archimboldi as an individual of such a noble descent that it becomes difficult to even imagine him in a sting role of provincial collector of taxes and alms. In XVIII century abbot Megieu haven't given any attention to a legend of Tacitus originating from Corvei. Baile is reporting on it just like a rumor, word of mouth, as an anecdote that "deceased Mr. Fore, Paris faculty's doctor of theology" has given him. From the words of the same Fore he tells how pope Lev X had wanted to find missing units of Tacitus so much that not only he promised money and glory for it but also absolution. Is this surprising how people were in a hurry to find it?
So both parts of Tacitus' codex are equally mysterious in their origin. Judging by unity of darknesses and legends surrounding them Hoshar assumes how they are both of the very same origin and shared family: how they have came out of The Rome's workshop of Florentian man Poggio Bracciolini" (ref 8 p 374-382).
Analyzing Tacitus' manuscripts
"Beginning to play a role of the prosecutor accusing one of the greatest humanists in deliberate forgery Hoshar should naturally be ready to answer all of the objections of opposing party - defenders of Tacitus...
First objection - how Latin speech of Tacitus was inimitable which is actually the most important and convincing one from out modern viewpoint shatters in front of consideration about the nature of XV century education in general and Poggio Bracciolini as the century's Litheraturical king in particular. Classic Latin is a native Litheraturical language for this writer. He doesn't write in other way but in Latin - and what way to write it is! In imitation flexibility he's a XV century's Prosper Merimee except even more educated, much deeper, more thoughtful and more subtle. He knows how he will have to deal not with general public that's classically semi-educated if not downright ignorant but with a criticism from dedicated classic education so he's coming to this experts' exam fully armed with extreme variety of styles. At reader's please Poggio becomes Seneca, Petronius, Titus Livius, like a chameleon of word and spirit he writes in a style of whoever pleases one and his "walnut style" looks just as beautiful as an actual walnut (more so because nobody saw walnut itself with their own eyes - Auth).
On top of it a prejudice about inimitable language of Tacitus grew in coming centuries along with a growth of Tacitus' general authority. Dark and unclear places in his text, intricacy in figures of speech, his excessive laconism devouring idea in some places, syntactic mistakes and inaccuracies used to make even the first of his commentators feel confused." (ref 8 p 382-383).
Hoshar and Ross bring up a detailed parsing of Tacitus' study from a purely Litheraturical viewpoint and show how a belief of Tacitus' pure language appears to have absolutely no foundation. In this statement they are close with many researchers of Tacitus though.
After the defensive Hoshar takes the offensive then and displays a number of considerations according to which all these compositions couldn't be written by a feather of ancient author. We will not dwell on this in detail (see ref 8 p 385-393) but will limit ourselves with a brief summary.
Tacitus' knowledge of history of The Roman Laws is weak. Speaking about an expansion of The Roman Pomeroy he's making a comment how Sulla and August only were doing this before, forgetting... Julius Caesar. Even back in a day Montesquieu has made a comment how Tacitus can be lost in the very basics of The Roman Laws.
He has a very bad knowledge about geography of The Ancient Rome state (the adventure of Germanicus, theater of Corbulon's war etc.) and even its border that Tacitus in his days moves away no further than The Red Sea.
Tacitus can be lost even in his native city of Rome he lives and writes in; he's reshuffling its historical monuments and mistaking one emperor for another. Tacitus' weakness of geographical knowledge was parsed by G. Peter for example and also by Justus Lipsius.
Traditional historians have dated a time of appearance of "Chronicles" to be about 115 AD basing on absolutely dark and greatly contradictory place in Tacitus' text when he has mentioned Trojan's campaign and made a number of blunders describing it.
One of the brightest dissonances of Tacitus appears to be his description of an episode of Agrippina's death which makes it obvious how Tacitus doesn't know naval affairs. "He's just as weak in a military affairs as well. This is very strange for a statesman of The Ancient Rome that was parenting his citizen first and foremost as a soldier but quite natural for XV century scientist: Poggio Bracciolini was person of a closet kind and less of a warrior than anything else. He haven't studied military affairs even in theory... he was learning about war from an imagination of civilian bourgeois writer and by hearsay. This is how Hoshar explains obscurity and vagueness in a majority of Tacitus' battle episodes... This military history is written by a civilian person... a huge list of Tacitus' contradictions was also brought up by Gaston Boussiex, though they haven't made him confused regarding reliability of these compositions.
Reputation of Tacitus' authenticity was much supported at Lion (1528) with a discovery of bronze plaques with fragments of Claudius' speech in defense of senate's equality for Galls which contents were selfsame with the same speech of the same prince as seen in "Annals". Hoshar points out how texts from Tacitus and from Lion's monument are selfsame in a general idea only but not in a way this idea is developed in a further speech not to mention wording and tone... Hoshar proves earnestly that author of the Tacitus never seen Lion's bronze plaques (if they really are an authentic monument of the official act - Auth). But maybe it was actually author of Lion plaques who knew about Tacitus already? In this case text on these plaques is the same kind of artificial and free amplification of a corresponding fragment of "Annals" just like "Annals" itself are free amplification from Suetonius, Dion Passius, Plutarch etc. According to Hoshar's opinion, bronze plaques of Lion - cunning forgery of XV century...
After naming a multiplicity of mistakes that Ist century Rome citizen couldn't make, Hoshar marks the ones that expose author as a person with XV century world view and traditions" (ref 8 p 387-390). Hoshar enumerate numerous political, economical, religious, scientific and Litheraturical bloomers of pseudo-Tacitus; all of them can be found in ref 8. But even Amfiteatrov himself refuses to track in detail these shared and similar fragments in which Tacitus' text touches texts of other antique authors who were already known in times of Poggio Bracciolini. "They are known for a very long time already and can be easily found in any research about Tacitus. But the only difference in Ross and Hoshar's judgment of these touches on opposite to majority of other researchers is how meanwhile the rest see this coincidence as an evidence of precise facts and succession of historical knowledge those two stand their ground firmly: pseudo-Tacitus is a talented person who excellently explored Suetonius, Dio Cassius (especially) etc. and on top of their data by amplification he has wrote his own history not being afraid of - or against his own will, in an addicted mood - to turn it into a historical romance sometimes. It's clear how Dio Cassius had the biggest influence on pseudo-Tacitus. The ones of Cassius' books that were describing a period respective to "Annals" and "History" haven't come to us as originals but they only did in a reduction and fragments by Xiphilinus and Zonara. This text gave pseudo-Tacitus his canvas and synopsis of story... If you will, pseudo-Tacitus is a Dio Cassius who has grown in his talent hugely..." (ref 8 p 393).
The causes and history of the fraud
"All the preceding considerations were leading Hoshar towards his purpose of proving how our Tacitus is a forged Tacitus and how Poggio Bracciolini, so to speak, does it as a forged Tacitus.
Now let's inspect where could Poggio get desire and motivation for this strange forgery from?
He lived in London, greatly tricked in his hopes for Bothore's generosity and extremely displeased by him. He was much into looking for new occupations that would let him to leave his services for English prelate. And so in 1422 one of his Florence friends Pier Lamberteski offers him a project of some historical work that should be performed along the Greek sources and in a strict confidence within three years margin during which Poggio will be provided with a honorarium of 500 ducats.
"Let him give me 600 - and that'll be a deal! - Poggio writes entrusting Niccoli to seal this deal. - I like an occupation he's offering very much and I hope to produce a little thing worthy for people to read it."
Months later he's writing: "If I will see how promises of our friend Pier will move from words to deeds then I'll be glad to get not just to Sarmaths but even to Skiths for this work's sake... Keep in secret all the projects I inform you about. If I'll go to Hungary this should remain a mystery for everyone except a few friends". In June he's still in England and writes to Niccoli: "I'm just waiting for Pier's reply. You can be sure that if I'll be given time and leisure to write his acts (gesta) I will compose a thing you will be content with. I'm in a very peppy mood; don't know if I've got enough strength for such task; but labor omnia vincit improbus (a labor, when a person does not spare himself, overcomes everything)".
"When I compare myself to ancient historians, I'm scared. But when I compare myself to modern ones I believe in myself again. Engaging nicely I won't lose my face in anyone's eyes".
Several days later he's informing Niccoli again how he's ready for departure and only waiting for Lamberteski's letter.
Sailing from England Poggio appears in Keln, passing through. Where he was later is unknown. According to Korniani he really lived in Hungary for some reason. According to Tonelli he has come straight to Florence. Was his mysterious deal with Lamberteski sealed, we don't know too. Name of Lamberteski disappear from Poggio's correspondence and Hoshar explains it with a condition of Poggio himself being redactor in publishing of his letters and how he was releasing them with a very provident selection. But even if this deal wouldn't happen and a work would dissolve, what kind of precipitate remained on the bottom of this episode?
Well this one: Lamberteski was offering Poggio to perform some secret historical study. A secret was assumed to be so strict that Poggio had to work in Hungary - meanwhile people assumed him to still be in England. He had to study Greek authors (Dio Cassius?) for this work. During this work he was to compete with The Antique Historians and he wanted and feared it. And finally this entire secret these people demanded from him and that he was accepting shows how all this assumed deed even being Litheraturical and academic still was not of a beautiful kind.
If Lamberteski was really offering Poggio to engage in forging Tacitus then not only he has chosen a good artisan but also had a moral right to approach him with a doubtful offer. After all he was just asking Poggio to continue what he has begun his career with. Several years ago at Niccoli's publishing have released young Poggio's "K. Asconius Pedianus' commentary to some speeches of M. Tullius Cicero". K. Asconius Pedianus is an orator mentioned by Quintilian (also found by Poggio - Auth). Nobody and never seen an origin this commentary was published from and Niccoli was rewriting all the copies from a copy as well that Poggio has sent him from a city of Constance. The success was huge even if Poggio, blushing, has sung his first song and the scientific world have quickly understood that things just aren't right here. (isn't is still considered genuine? - tr) But it looks like Poggio isn't even concerned much about hiding his forgery. Discussing Lamberteski's offer with Niccoli in 1422 he's frankly hinting among his other concerns:
"It's been four years already as I haven't practicing Latin eloquence but in the shortest period of time I hope to makeup leeway so much that I'll be able to write no worse than before". If he wanted then in conditions of his era he had a right to be so, as we would say, cynical. Success of forged Asconius Pedianus has caused an entire series of other forgeries written from a name of the same fantastical author but all of them were too rough and were exposed immediately. Poggio Bracciolini just turned up to be cleverer than the others. But even then Francois Homan who was a scientist and a publisher of printed Asconius in 1644 has rightly spoken out about Poggio's study:
"If it weren't studies of modern scientists who has calculated Asconius' mistakes and infelicities he wouldn't deserve any attention and his study would serve no purpose".
We can rather think how a deal with Lamberteski never happened but its idea has stuck in a Poggio's mind starting to develop in it along various ways of the same type. Before starting his affair with Tacitus he will try to pre-sell some magnificent exemplar of Titus Livius to Cosmos Medici and Leonello d'Este - and again, doing this in a mysterious atmosphere: onstage is a distant monastery on an island in The Northern Sea, Swedish monks etc. The case here most likely wasn't a forgery of a composition (but actually why not? - Auth) but quite possibly was a forgery of an exemplar. It's known how Poggio's skill of The Lombardian Handwriting was perfect and this is an exact kind of manuscript he was tempting named princes with. But he has failed this one here and then the precious exemplar disappears to somewhere without a trace not leaving any sound or smell of itself. How so? Maybe because he didn't exist at all - Poggio was just checking a soil for an order. Maybe because people at Florence and Ferrara's courts could figure out a genuine value of a thing. Leonello d'Este was not easy to trick. This educated prince was barely not the first to claim apocryphality for The Middle Ages' such a famous and sensational correspondence of apostle Pavel and Seneca.
It's notable how Poggio who was so prolific usually doesn't write anything his own and original in this period of his life. So except "On stinginess" tractate all his philosophical works are of late origin just like "The Florentine History", a study of his old age, performed when he was on top of his greatness already as a chancellor of The Florentine Republic. On the other hand he's educating himself infinitely much - and he's doing this systematically and unilaterally - which looks like he's taming himself for some responsibility-demanding study about Roman history of the emperors' period. Niccoli is barely fast enough to send him either Ammianus Marceline or Plutarch or "Geography" by Ptolemy etc.
Variously armed by these preparations in 1424 he throws the bait about Tacitus. How it was just a try becomes clear out of a red tape starting after Niccoli grabbed the bait and protracting for four years. Poggio have promised a study that in warm blood he was planning to finish quickly. But this work turned up being more complex, more serious and more painstaking than he was expecting. So he had to act cunning, wriggle out, come up with reasons to delay things month after month and in the end he possibly still had to confess to Niccoli: because he could read his cunning-minded friend like a book and he also was devoted into Lamberteski's mysterious deal. That's why Hoshar thinks how its only when Poggio has just started his forgery he was alone but there's no possible way he could trick Niccoli so this book publisher undoubtedly was his accomplice...
Poggio's slowness was just coming from the very fact of him being not some vulgar Litheraturical fraudster but a great scientist and an artiste: he could understand immenseness of pretension he took responsibility of better than anybody else, so many times when the book was ready for release he would stop in indecision if he can release it and then he was re-reading, redacting, correcting again.
With a multiplicity of proofs even if all of them being indirect, with exegesis, Hoshar manages to shake our confidence in Tacitus' authenticity - for one of two copies at least. But there are two of them. They are sharply different in handwriting and format and they are found in a distance of good 60 years from each other. And since tone and language of the same author is undoubtedly kept in both copies then admitting Poggio Bracciolini's authorship for The Second Medicean Copy, of course we also open a door to The First Copy for this hypothesis. But how Bracciolini didn't find it necessary to falsify Tacitus if he has already falsified it - with an entire solid exemplar of uniformed kind at once?
Hoshar gives an answer:
-Because "finding" two manuscripts of different format and handwriting like it was an excerpts of two manuscripts from different centuries, Poggio had wanted to cover a signs of a forgery and confuse scientific criticism.
And also because (and this may be the main thing - Auth) separating his forgery into two "findings" he was stripping two skins from one ox. Imagine late units of "Chronicle" and early ones of "History" appearing. There is a huge interest, excitation in a scientific world. Poggio and Niccoli earn huge money - this is a first skin from an ox. Then there is a common regret how this find lacks its head. If only the head was found! When this scientific appetite for a lost head of a Tacitus (Beroalde's expression) will grow - Poggio and Niccoli will find it and will strip a skin number two.
But how Poggio haven't released first books of "Chronicle" during his life?
Hoshar gives an answer:
-Because in 30s his life went uphill, he has become rich and hasn't needed to earn his living in such a doubtful way. He has already become famous and rich with a compositions signed by his own name. He has become the individual.
It fits among other considerations. At young age when penury awaits a writer and he's thrusting his way, scientific mystification is easier for a person of course and it troubles his still small voice less, but an old and deserved scientist... calmed down by his life is unlikely to get his hands into such thing.
(On the other hand a list of studies "found" by Poggio is quite vast even without it. Except an authors already listed above Poggio in his youth has found the following classics: complete Quintilian, two tractates by Cicero and seven of his speeches, compositions by Lucretius, Petronius, Plaut, Tertullian, some works by Ammiane Marceline, by Calpurnius Secule etc. Complete list of authors that came out of Poggio's workshop is unknown. There is also no complete information about other similar workshops of that time. - Auth)
...But besides purely moral considerations there are also practical ones. If Tacitus is a Bracciolini's forgery then its first half, in other words second finding, The First Medicean Copy - is clearly an unfinished work... Creative tension with that Poggio Bracciolini has created his gigantic study could leave author after he's significantly depleted his strength writing a tale of Tiberius' reign - undoubtedly the best and the most global part of "Chronicle"... Poggio could... temporarily put his difficult work aside - more so that it wasn't in a hurry. Because finding second half of Tacitus just now and then discovering the first one at the distance that was too short - would be much too suspicious happiness. Manuscript... was laying meanwhile a writer got involved into other works, more stinging than a Litheraturical masquerade that tired him. Poggio has grown up; he has become a celebrity, a statesman. Why would a chancellor of The Florentine Republic return to a work of his stormy youth and also was it even decent for him considering a nature of this work? Niccolo Niccoli, who could possibly insist on a forgery continuation and could encourage Poggio, has died in 1437. Unfinished work was left to lay in an archive because its author didn't need it, it wasn't sold and it wasn't destroyed because - what kind of master can easily lay a hand on his mastery... There could've been one more cause: a fear of competition (and exposure - Auth). In 1455 Jew Enoch d'Ascoli has found "Dialogue about orators", "Agricola's biography" and "Germany" by Tacitus (for example see ref 48 - Auth) in some Danish monastery (And again a monastery, and again its at north) whose language and nature are known to significantly differ from "History" and "Annals" and bear bright signs of ciceronianism. (By the way deep investigation of all the circumstances of this "finding" wasn't done yet. - Auth) "Facetiae" have appeared on a marked, it was ascribed to Tacitus and it wasn't soon until a forgery was exposed. Searching manuscripts was becoming more and more doubtful occupation. Experts were spawning day by day and educated rogues or mystificators like Poggio himself even staying at their own market were to meet big educated landlords (?-tr) who could themselves teach them lessons about their own product - both real and a shady one. Thomas The Sarzanian (pope Nicolas V, 1447-1455), Perotti, archbishop of Sipont who discovered (1450) Fedr's concoction (or falsified it - Auth), Pomponia Leth (1425-1497) who discovered (or falsified) a famous will of Lucius Cuspidus etc. The market was corrupted...
If Poggio didn't want to publish first books of "Chronicle" in his life how his descendants haven't published it and how these books remained unknown so long after a death of an old scientist (1459)?
Hoshar gives an answer:
-Because there was nobody among his descendants to engage in this. After he has married lately (55 years old) Poggio was fast enough to produce five sons among whom the junior one, Giacomo has quite inherited talents of his father but he has died early executed as a Pacci conspiracy participant (1480). The rest have entered holy orders. Three have died relatively young. Giovanni Francesco was the only one to live till the old ages and this way he has united in his hands all the remains of parents' capital again. The latter was in eclipse... While there was something to squander, Poggio's descendants weren't interested in chests with his signature. The wealth have dried up - the last descendant, checking his inventory, have stumbled upon this ancient resource too. It's price have decreased very much in a course of 60 years. Development of typography has killed a manuscript. Everything that was rewritten even if it was with a hand of the great Poggio had its price decreased next to rapidly growing competition from a printed book. Only originals were truly valuable. And then Giovanni Francesco finds an original of Tacitus - a truly precious one. That very original that Poggio was writing to Niccoli about with a forged date of December 28, 1427: "I've read that you people in Florence have an exemplar performed with antique letters - let you send it to me!"
It seemed like the most natural further behavior on Giovanni Francesco's side - to carry a find to a patron of sciences and arts Lion X and get from him those 500 sequins that pope later paid either to Archimboldi or with his mediation to some mysterious seller. But Hoshar consider that Giovani Francesco couldn't do this. Viperous "songs" that Niccolo Niccoli used to complain about and out of fear of which Poggio was hiding his Tacitus so long weren't forgotten in a scientific world. Everyone knew a story about Asconius Pedianus. Reputation of manuscripts being released from Bracciolini's house was stained this way. Lion X (because he was a Florentine, Medici and knew good what kind of birds he's dealing with) could possibly not take Tacitus out of hands of Poggio's son absolutely the same way how Leonello d'Este didn't took Titus Livius from a father Poggio himself. We have to comment by the way: it looks like that at the same time this accursed Titus Livius has risen too again out of somewhere to a surface of the market. Now people have allegedly found it on an island of Giene (one of The Hebrides) that was renowned in a first half of The Middle Ages with an influential and educated monastery of saint Colomban where Scottish kings were entombed. A copy was carried out of a Rome by Fergus The King of Scotland during The Rome's rout by Alaric and then hidden in Giena out of fear of Danes' raids! Familiar situation again: the north, the island, the monastery, the Danes. Exemplar was offered to the French king Francisco the Ist but even this passionate purchaser of rarities has suspected a forgery and declined. So it turns up it really was more convenient for Giovanni Francesca to prefer a curved, bypassing way to a straight one even if he haven't suspected his parent's forgery and was selling his Tacitus "bona fide". And if he did then it he was even more likely to. However but a story behind a find in Corvei strikingly resemble a story of a find in Herzfeld. And this is giving me an idea how Giovanni Francesco didn't know how he's selling a forged document. Otherwise he would care about coming up with more new and complex environment. It's not a good recommendation for a product - selling it in the same suspicious circumstances in which a poor quality product was once given from one's hands. Giovanni Francesco was rescuing his father's product from a bad name of "songs being sung about Tacitus" but he himself believed anyway both in the new Tacitus and the old one - so he considered a repetition of situation in which the first Tacitus was found to be the most convenient for a proof of authenticity and value of the new one" (ref 8, p 393-406).
Novel or history?
Hoshar and Ross also examined a question is this history or a novel lying in front of us with a "Tacitus" name. Numerous references to this being a novel indeed were even shown by Walter back then. "...He has put a series of considerations on display that by a common sense were undermining our trust in a Tacitus' story of Agrippina's death. If a legend could harmlessly stand (this was even before Hoshar and Ross - Auth) a hit of such a skillful and sure-shot hand then absolutely not a weakness of accusatory logic in Walter's evidences is to blame but a might of talent in Tacitus' story. In a tragic pages of his chronicle he usually fascinate reader so much that one almost stops caring how things really were and instead he wants them to be the way Tacitus commands him to believe. He's pressing you with an impression like a Shakespeare, Lev Tolstoy, Balzac so not only you have to find a big courage of "your own opinion" within themselves but also a significant proportion of healthy reasoned dryness so you can walk through a enchanted forest of his charms without succumbing to its beauties but variously armed with a doubt and an analysis" (ref 8 p 324). And after this enchantment is overshadowed, countless strangnesses rise from the depths of text instantly, asserting persistently how this is still a historical novel in front of us.
Hoshar and Ross list a huge number of these strangenesses, we will not dwell on it intentionally and will send an interested reader to studies of these specialist historians instead (also see ref 8 p 325-350). We will only bring up a summary for one of fragments - Agrippina's death described not only by Tacitus by the way but also Suetonius and Dio Cassius; so a suspicion of how we are dealing with a novel can be expanded on these studies too.
"So a series of doubtful and sometimes downright inconsistent details surrounding Agrippina's death in stories of three basic historians but mostly Tacitus is giving us a right to agree with conviction with opinions of scepticists attributing these legendary pages to an area of not documental history but historical novel. Fascination with an artistic beauty and intense language of Tacitus have led to how an artificial linkage of facts that were far from irreproachable even in terms of an artistic concept was covered from an aesthetical minds and minds of people addicted to ethical didactics and parables masked as facts. After all the only thing a historian can precisely and definitely assert about Agrippina's death - is that very thing that Walter has said even 150 years ago: "Horrified I acknowledge how Nero has given consent for a murder of his mother but I don't believe a single word in that story about the galley"... In our century of telegraph, telephone, quick publishing and wide publicity, after every death of a major political activist we still appear witnesses or readers to a swarm of legends surrounding it and quite frequently gaining such durability that even the most indubitable documental historical evidences cannot refute it later on... legend gets absorbed by a public opinion... where no documents and graphical facts present but only an instinct of public opinion whispering something... history inevitably becomes a neighbor to philistine gossip. Imagine how much stronger and more influential this process of "legend being created" should have been in a course of centuries when public opinion haven't had other instrument of its own forming except rumor and gossip..." (ref 8 p 350-351).
Hoshar has mentioned extremely strong similarity in language and tone of Poggio Bracciolini's own Latin pieces and compositions of Tacitus which is also interesting. In this connection we're getting quite curious (see ref 8 p 407) about Lanfane's (1661-1728) apologistical characterization of Poggio as a historian: "When you're reading him you can't avoid recognizing Titus Livius, Sallustius and the best Roman historians in his face". You can't say it any better!
Historians' treatment of Ross and Hoshar's conclusions
First time for Hoshar to suspect Tacitus' text in being amplified was after he has proven how famous fragment 15:44 in "Annals" by Tacitus appear to be a forgery. But only after several years Hoshar has finally understood how things are much more important here and this is not a matter of a single fragment but of an entire study.
Conclusions of Hoshar and Ross have naturally caused a storm of resentment in historians' camp but found a support too. Arthur Drews was one of people who were researching this matter for a long time. Not entirely sharing a basic statement of a forgery of an entire composition he has completely supported Hoshar on the matter of 15:44's forgery (we will remind you how this fragment tells about Christians and their mutual relations with Nero). But on the matter of Poggio Bracciolini's authorship Drews has took a cautious position not rejecting such possibility but also not rejecting how Bracciolini could create this remarkable amplification. (?-tr)
Amfiteatrov's reaction was quite characteristic. Not being able to counter Hoshar's arguments with anything weighty he's writing:
"But more than anything and more powerful than anything - like a shield - five century old habit to Tacitus' authority, love and respect for strict and almost fearsome figure of Roman artist historian rises between us and Hoshar's theory..." (ref 8 p 409). Still understanding a handicap of this kind of declamation Amfiteatrov is offering his own theory for origin of manuscripts of Tacitus that does consider basic if not all the points of Hoshar's criticism. According to his opinion (see ref 8 p 413-423) clearly coming purely from his desire of "saving" Tacitus at any cost, both Medicean Copies appear to be Poggio's forgery who was still basing his work on a certain badly preserved exemplar of "genuine" Tacitus, Poggio has just (!) amplified and enlarged it also additionally composing many things into it. Amfiteatrov can't see how his attempt of reconciling both extreme viewpoints, just like it usually happens, doesn't actually solve anything. If Amfiteatrov is right then how can one determine what was additionally written by Poggio and what is a criteria for reliability of information "proto-Tacitus" contain? Who can guarantee that this "proto-Tacitus" assumed by Amfiteatrov wasn't composed by some dashing craftsman, so to speak, "proto-Poggio"?
That's why Amfiteatrov's viewpoint wasn't largely spread. Historians have preferred to ignore Hoshar and Ross's work even though, as we would like to emphasize, nobody has interposed any serious objections to Hoshar and Ross.
This is how Drews has described a situation formed after a work of these authors have appeared: "...we can see how a majority of theologists swear about authenticity of Tacitus' evidence and that's why they also brand my suspicion about this authenticity as a trespass of "historical science" and as a peak of unscientific" (ref 36 p 27).
Professor Weise was especially irritated. How Drews reports "...at Mannheim's meeting of protest he was stating how that Frenchman Hoshar that I was referring to, among other things, "has made his position in science impossible" with how he has considered an entire "excellent" composition of Tacitus to be a forgery of XV-XVI century. After this Weise exclaims pathetically: "You all can see what kind of authorities Drews is following!" (ref 36 p 29). We can see how all these "protests" boil down to just a bare statements how "this is impossible" which is of course first and natural psychological reaction. But a priori negative treatment of Hoshar's vast and minutely argumented theory still causes surprise. Drews rightly writes:
"I'm unable to comprehend how can they without reading Hoshar still have a courage to express this kind of judgment about him. Even if I would know about Hoshar's sharply critical treatment of Tacitus, still I wouldn't consider myself to have a right to write off his research on a matter of explored fragment like his educated German critics do. I would consider Hoshar... expressing such a sharp consideration about Tacitus to obviously have his own grounds to do this. Talking about German critics of Hoshar who don't know him and look to this foreign scientist top down so superciliously, I could only give them an advice of engaging into studying his pieces immediately because they can learn much useful for themselves from it" (ref 36 p 30).
"...Anyway those German scientists whose suspicion about authenticity of this place in Tacitus (about fragment 15:44 - Auth) haven't appeared yet doesn't have a slightest right to shrug with a look expressing regret and compassion for this "frivolous" Frenchman. So when Hoshar's select and possibly controversial statements were standing out of the picture during a fight around "The Myth of Christ" and then supplied with notes discrediting them they were sent to press to put a public to sleep so this way negligibility and low value of Hoshar's argumentation could be illustrated, then this is still not a "Fair play" at all and ways of fighting like this are straight indecent. Otherwise where can one find such a scientific study whose value couldn't be dropped this way in the eyes of masses unable for independent judgment? And who can say that until now as well as in this case just like it was more than once, "the science" wasn't dwelling in power of hypnosis strengthened by a habit if this science have considered Tacitus' story authentic without any critical check? Let the people also not forget how tightly this story is connected with an entire Christianic understanding of history and how much first and foremost religious education and The Church were interested in any doubt about it not appearing. That passionate temper these bidden and unbidden ones have shown when they have stood up for Tacitus during last year wasn't coming from a pure historical interest anyway but rather from interest of belief" (ref 36 p 45). (so church was actually interested in pagan manuscripts? - Translator)
Interesting thing about Drews' analysis is its demonstration of causes leading to all the statements similar to Hoshar and Ross' statements' a priori "in arms" perception - religious education of majority of the scientists of that period have led to a situation of everything contradicting the church's tradition was causing an instinctive aversion for any argumentation. Because even as long ago as Herman Schiller was pointing out strange contradictions in text of Tacitus.
"...it looks like in a course of an entire The Middle Ages nobody was interested in this fragment by the roman historiographer, a fragment that was highly important for history and glory of the church; but there's more, people were just making a guesses of its existence until they have finally read it in the only exemplar of Tacitus back then, so-called The Second Medicean Copy printed in Venice around 1470 by brothers Johannes and Wendeline Speyer after which all the rest of manuscripts appear to be a simple copies of it" (ref 36 p 45-46).
"The Chronicle" by Sulpicius Sever (allegedly died in 408 AD) also says of persecution of Christians during Nero. So a question how this "chronicle" have come to the attention of history is interesting. It turns out there is only one manuscript of this "chronicle" exist, attributed by historians to XI century AD and currently kept in Vatican.
"So in a course of an entire The Middle Ages this composition was almost unknown and nobody suspected a roman persecution of the Christians mentioned in it. It looks like just thankfully to some kind of a good fortune this was the exact manuscript that have got in Poggio's hands so he could read it" (ref 36 p 261).
Further on Drews makes a comment "how Tacitus is absolutely not a "excellent" historiographer in a sense of an objective reporter but with his sharply pronounced personality addicted to a gloomy conception of life he appear as highly subjective storyteller achieving for strong, vivid effects and gloomy mood and whose depiction, especially in a case of The Roman Emperors can only be taken with a great caution - all the historians agree about this and this is also not unknown for theologists. But when he's reporting something in their favor then they sing hymns of praise to an "excellence" of this Roman historiographer" (ref 36 p 258).
After Hoshar's works have appeared, historians who have risen in their arms against him were also accusing him how because of his ignorance he was the first to have a doubt in authenticity of Tacitus' books. This is how Drews has commented this:
"...So this is just not true that everyone keeps triumphantly stating how no philologist have ever challenged an authenticity of Tacitus' excerpt. I pity German philologists though because for example American mathematician Smith in his book of "Esse Deus" has brought up an entire series of purely philological considerations against authenticity of this excerpt..." (ref 36 p 258).
Of course conclusions of Ross and Hoshar don't have and can't possibly have an indisputability of, say, mathematical evidence. Still strange how it was actually completely ignored by subsequent historians who haven't interposed - we repeat this once more - not even a single worthy objection.
However considerations of Ross and Hoshar anyway lay a heavy shadow of suspicion on an authenticity of Tacitus and ancient authors he's connected with by reciprocal references. Doubts of authenticity for other ancient authors "found" by Poggio also appear.
How did it happen that Poggio's forgery wasn't exposed immediately?
To sort this out it wouldn't be redundant to previously familiarize yourself - at least in short - with a history of an entirety of all the Litheraturical forgeries (and forgeries of "historical documents" at the same time).