Anastasius Bibliothecarius

, so called because he was librarian of the church of Rome, was a native of Greece, and one of the most learned men of his age. He flourished about the middle of the ninth century, and was abbot of St. Mary’s trans Tiberim. His chief work, the “Liber Pontincalis,” or the lives of the Popes from St. Peter to Nicholas I. is of a doubtful character: Blondel and Salmasius bestow great encomiums on it, while Hailing, a Roman catholic writer of note, depreciates it as much. To the last edition of this book is joined Ciampinius’s examination of the validity of the facts therein mentioned; and from this we learn that he wrote only the lives of Gregory IV. Sergius II. Leo IV. Benedict III. and Nicholas I. and that the lives of the other popes in that book were done by different authors. Anastasius is said to have assisted at the eighth general council held at Constantinople in the year 869, of which he translated the acts and canons from Greek into Latin. The time of his death is a disputed point, as indeed are many particulars relating to him. Bayle has a very elaborate article on his history, which Cave had previously examined, and Blondel, in his “Familier eclaircissement,” and Boeder in his “Bibl. critica,” have likewise entered deeply into the controversy. He wrote a great number of translations, more valued for their fidelity than elegance, yet they have all been admitted into the popish collections of ecclesiastical memoirs and antiquities. The first edition of the “Liber Pontincalis” was printed at Mentz, 1602, 4to, and two more editions appeared in the last century, one in four vols. fol. by Francis and Joseph | Bianchini, 1718—1735, and the other in three vols. 4to, by the abbé Vignoli, 1724—1753, besides an edition by Muratori, in his collection of Italian writers, enlarged by learned dissertations, from which it would appear that Anastafcius was rather the translator, or compiler of those lives, and that he took them from the ancient catalogues of the popes, the acts of the martyrs, and other documents preserved among the archives of the Roman church. The Vatican library then consisted of little else, although it appears that there was before his time a person honoured with the title of librarian. 1


Gen. Dict. Biog. Universelle. Glnguene Hist. Litt. d’ltalie, vol. I. p. 97—100. Saxii Onomasticon.