BMCR 2004.02.23

Justin and Trogus. A Study of the Language of Justin’s Epitome of Trogus. Phoenix Supplement 41

, Justin and Pompeius Trogus : a study of the language of Justin's Epitome of Trogus. Phoenix supplementary volume ; 41. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. 1 online resource (xvii, 284 pages).. ISBN 9781442676473 $95.00.

This study of Pompeius Trogus, Justin and his Epitome marks J. C. Y(ardley)’s third major contribution to our understanding of this important text and these two important literary figures. Previously Y. translated the Epitome and contributed to a commentary on Books Eleven and Twelve of it.1 Y.’s conclusions in Justin and Pompeius Trogus do not differ substantially from those he has proposed over the past decade. The significance of this latest contribution, however, is Y.’s demonstration that those conclusions are irrefutable: Justin epitomized Pompeius Trogus’ “Philippic History” around A.D. 200 and he did so primarily in his capacity as a teacher at a school of rhetoric. Previously scholars have dated the Epitome as early as the mid-second century A.D. and as late as ca. A.D. 400. Placement of the Epitome around A.D. 200 is the result of Y.’s thorough study of the language found within it, the complete results of which are presented here for the first time.2 On the basis of this analysis, Y. has persuasively shown that one can attribute certain words, phrases and expressions either to Trogus himself or to Justin his epitomator. Expressions found commonly in first century B.C. and Augustan authors (and not found later) that appear in the Epitome, Y. argues, are most likely those of Pompeius Trogus. The expressions and phrases that are found only in post-Augustan authors are more likely to be “Justinisms.” Y. conducted this careful analysis electronically by using the Packard Humanities Institute Latin disk as well as other resources (pp. ix-x, 5). On the basis of this analysis, Y. has demonstrated that the greatest influence upon Trogus was Livy. Justin’s language, on the other hand, has the greatest number of parallels with the Declamations of Pseudo-Quintillian.

The book is divided into two parts: the first deals with Pompeius Trogus and the second with Justin. In each part, Y. examines the phrases and expressions found in the Epitome that he believes are likely to be the work of each author respectively. Each chapter contains a brief introduction followed by a detailed catalogue of words and phrases in the Epitome, arranged by book and section, and a complete list of parallel uses in other authors. Only two passages within the Epitome, however, can be identified with absolute certainty as the work of one author or the other. Justin clearly wrote the Praefatio, and he informs us (38.3.11) that he included Trogus’ Speech of Mithridates (38.4-7) without altering it. For this reason, Y. places particular emphasis upon words and expressions found in one and absent in the other.

In Chapter 1, Y. explores the extent to which Sallust and Caesar exerted an influence upon Trogus, and he concludes that their influence was slight, as the number of passages he cites attests. Chapter 2, however, is the centerpiece of Y.’s analysis of the Trogan expressions in the Epitome. Livian influence upon Trogus’ work is beyond doubt, as Y. has demonstrated. Especially revealing are the six expressions from the Speech of Mithridates that Y. has shown reveal Livian influence (pp. 21-22). Also striking is Togus’ use of principio rerum at 1.1.1 (also at 2.1.4 and 7.6.3) of the Epitome. These opening words of the Epitome, as Y. notes, are paralleled three times in Livy.

The relationship between Trogus, Justin, and Cicero is explored in Chapter 3. Since both Trogus and Justin (as a teacher of rhetoric) certainly were familiar with Cicero, as Y. notes, this complicates matters for one attempting to discern Trogan expressions within the Epitome. As noted above, the only passages within the Epitome that are securely identifiable with Trogus and Justin are the Speech of Mithridates (38.4-7) and the Praefatio respectively. Ciceronian expressions appear in both, thus the conclusion is clear that the historian and the epitomator knew Cicero and that he influenced their work.

Other historians from the first century A.D. (Valerius Maximus, Velleius Paterculus, Frontinus, and Q. Curtius Rufus) who are known to have used Trogus are examined in Chapter 4. Among these historians, Y.’s discussion concerning Curtius will be of value to those interested in the Epitome as one of the extant versions of the Alexander vulgate tradition.3

Part Two centers on Justin and identification of expressions that are very likely his within the Epitome. The post-Augustan authors whose influence is most deeply felt within the Epitome include Apuleius, Aulus Gellius, Suetonius, and the Declamations attributed to Quintillian. Y. also considers the influence of Tacitus on the Epitome, which has long been a matter of some controversy. The difficulty lies in determining whether or not Justin used the Tacitean expressions detectable within the Epitome or if they are the result of Tacitus’ knowledge of Trogus. Y. shows caution on this point, as he does with many other controversial issues concerning the Epitome, but his inclination is that Justin knew Tacitus and he has thus included these expressions among the Justinisms.

Chapter 5 contains the bulk of Y.’s analysis of expressions that are almost certainly those of Justin. Y. discusses six expressions from the Praefatio that have been cited often to illustrate what others have called Justin’s “sloppy methodology.” These six examples, which contain repetition of words within a brief span, Y. claims, are intentional and thus we can identify this as a characteristic feature of Justin’s work.

Y. next explores the relationship between Justin and the Declamations of Pseudo-Quintillian. It comes as no surprise that similarities exist and that Y. has concluded that the relationship between the Epitome and the Declamations is closer than any other work. Particularly striking are the number of parallel expressions Y. has collected from Justin’s own Praefatio (collected in Chapter 5). This demonstration certainly strengthens Y.’s suggestion (noted above) that Justin was a teacher of rhetoric. The similarities between the two works is so remarkable that Y. even goes so far as to suggest tentatively that Justin himself may have been “the author of a number of” the Pseudo-Quintillian Declamations (181). Y. addresses the influence of poetry within the Epitome in Chapter 7. He demonstrates that this influence is pervasive and that Virgil had the greatest impact on it. Like the discussion concerning Cicero, analysis of Virgilian phrases in the Epitome presents difficulties in determining whether or not the influence was upon Trogus or Justin. Most scholars have argued that detectable Virgilian influence was upon Trogus, but Y. notes that in many cases, these Virgilian expressions may also be Justinisms, especially since no Virgilian expressions are present within the Speech of Mithridates, the one extended Trogan passage in the Epitome.

The final chapter treats the law and its relation to Trogus and Justin. Again, on account of Y.’s claim that Justin was a teacher of rhetoric, he argues that prevalent legal terminology in the Epitome is derived primarily from Justin’s hand, while some may also be Trogan. Included at the end of the book are three useful indices.

Throughout Justin and Pompeius Trogus Y. cautions the reader about many of the expressions he has identified as either Trogan or Justinisms. The basis for the caveat is the loss of so much of Latin literature that was available to one or both authors. This is especially true of passages identified as Justinisms on the basis of their appearance in later authors. Undoubtedly some of these expressions may have been present in authors such as Livy, the greater part of whose work is no longer extant. One must also use caution concerning conclusions reached on the basis of an expression’s presence in either the Praefatio or Speech of Mithridates and its absence in the other. Y. rightly uses these two extended passages as controls, but the relative brevity of the two passages with respect to the whole of the Epitome makes some conclusions surrounding them subjective. Overall, Y.’s analysis of Justin’s Epitome and his conclusions are very persuasive. Y.’s Justin and Pompeius Trogus goes far in demonstrating that Justin’s talents went beyond “cutting and pasting” and that the Epitome is a valuable source that deserves far greater attention than it has received previously.


1. See J. C. Yardley and R. Develin, Justin. Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus (Atlanta 1994) and J. C. Yardley and W. Heckel, Justin. Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Volume 1. Books 11-12: Alexander the Great (Oxford 1997). A second volume of this work covering Books 13-15 is still anxiously awaited.

2. Y. has presented an analysis of the language of Trogus and Justin similar to that presented here for Books 11 and 12 in Yardley and Heckel, Justin. Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Volume 1, Appendix V, pp. 333-343.

3. For more on the relationship between Pompeius Trogus and Curtius, see J. E. Atkinson, A Commentary on Quintus Curtius Rufus’ Historiae Alexandri Magni Volume 1 (Amsterdam 1980), pp. 59-61 (cited by Y.) and E. Baynham, Alexander the Great. The Unique History of Quintus Curtius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1998), pp. 30-35 (not cited by Y.).