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Lucius Ampelius

Lucius Ampelius, was possibly a tutor or schoolmaster, and author of an extremely concise summary--a kind of index--of universal history (Liber Memorialis) from the earliest times to the reign of Trajan.

Its object and scope are sufficiently indicated in the dedication to a certain Macrinus:

"Since you desire to know everything, I have written this 'book of notes,' that you may learn of what the universe and its elements consist, what the world contains, and what the human race has done."

It seems to have been intended as a text-book to be learnt by heart. The little work, in fifty chapters, gives a sketch of cosmography[?], geography, mythology (chaps i-x), and history (chap. x-end). The historical portion, dealing mainly with the republican period, is untrustworthy, and the text in many places corrupt; the earlier chapters are more valuable, and contain some interesting information.

In chap. viii (Miracula Mundi) occurs the only reference in an ancient writer to the famous sculptures of Pergamon, discovered in 1871, excavated in 1878, and now at Berlin:

"At Pergamum there is a great marble altar, 40 feet high, with colossal sculptures, representing a battle of the giants."

Nothing is known of the author or of the date at which he lived: the times of Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, the beginning of the 3rd century, and the age of Diocletian and Constantine have all been suggested. The Macrinus to whom the work is dedicated may have been the emperor who reigned 217-218, but the name is not uncommon, and it seems more likely that he was a young man with a thirst for universal knowledge, which the Liber Memorialis was compiled to satisfy.

There is no English edition or translation. The first edition of Ampelius was published in 1638 by Salmasius (Saumaise) from the Dijon MS., now lost, together with the Epitome of Florus[?]; the latest edition is by Wölfflin (1854), based on Salmasius's copy of the lost codex.

See Glaser, Rheinisches Museum, ii. (1843); Zink, Eos, ii (1866); Wölfflin, De L. Ampelii Libro Memoriali (1854).

Initial text from 1911 encyclopedia -- Please update as needed.

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