, or according to his epitaph, which Bayle follows, Nannius (John), commonly called Annius of Viterbo, where he was born about 1432, was a Dominican friar, and highly respected among his brethren for his extensive knowledge of Greek, Latin, and the oriental languages. He was also a zealous preacher, and his reputation having reached Rome, he was invited thither, and received with great respect by the members of the sacred college, and the popes Sixtus IV. and Alexander VI. This last conferred upon him in 1499, the honourable situation of master of the sacred palace, vacant by the promotion of Paul Moneglia to the bishopric of Chios. Annius, however, had some difficulty in preserving the favour of characters so profligate as Alexander, and his son Caesar Borgia; but the duchess de Valentinois, wife to Caesar, and as virtuous as he was abandoned, rendered Annius every service in her power. Her husband, probably on this account, and tired with the advice and remonstrances presented to him either by her or by Annius, determined to get rid of the latter, and, it is thought, procured him to be poisoned. Whatever may be in this report, Annius died Nov. 13, 1502, in his seventieth year.

Annius left a great many works, two of which were thought valuable; the one, “A treatise on the Empire of the Turks,” and the other, “De futuris Christianorum triumphis in Turcas et Saracenos, at Xystum IV. et omnes principes Christianos,” Genes, 1430, 4to, a commentary on the book of the Revelations, part of which had been the subject of some, sermons he preached in 1471. He | published also “Super mutuo Judaico et civili et divino,1492, 4to, without place or printer’s name; and the Harleian catalogue ascribes to him a commentary on Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, Paris, 1604. But the work which has rendered him best known in the literary world, is the collection of antiquities which he published at Rome in 1498, entitled “Antiquitatum variarum voluminaXVU. cum commentariis fr. Joannis Annii Viterbensis,” fol. reprinted the same year at Venice, and afterwards several times at Paris, Basil, Antwerp, Lyons, &c. sometimes with, and sometimes without his commentaries. In this collection Annius pretends to give the original works of several historians of the highest antiquity, as: “Archilochi de temponbus Epitome lib. I. Xenophontis de Æquivocis lib. I. Berosi Babylonici de Antiquitatibus Italian ac totius orbis lib. V. Manethonis JEgyptii supplementa ad Berosum lib. I. Metasthenis Persae, de judicio temporum, & Annalibus Persarum lib. I. Philonis Hebraei de temporibus lib. II. Joannis Annii de primis temporibus, & quatuor ac viginti regibus Hispanice, & ejus antiquitate lib. I. Ejusdem de antiquitate & rebus Ethruriae lib. I. Ejusdem Commentariorum in Propertium de Vertumno sive Jano lib. I. Q. Fabii Pictoris de aureo saeculo, & origine urbis Romse lib. II. Myrsili Lesbii de origine Italiae, ac Turrhenioe lib. I. M. Catonis fragmenta de originibus lib. I. Antonini Pii Csesaris August! Itinerarium lib. I. C. Sempronii de chorographia sive descriptione Italian lib. I. Joannis Annii de Ethrusca simul & Italica Chronographia lib. I. Ejusdem Quoestiones de Thuscia lib. I. Cl. Marii Aretii, Patricii Syracusani, de situ insulue Sicilian lib. I. Ejusdem Dialogus in quo Hispania describitur.” The author dedicated these books to Ferdinand and Isabella, because they had been found when their majesties were conquering the kingdom of Granada. He pretends, that he met with them at Mantua, whilst he was there with his patron Paul de Campo Fulgoso, cardinal of St. Sixtus. But they had not been published long, before doubts began to be entertained of their authenticity. This provoked a controversy, in the course of which it was very clearly proved that they are entitled to little credit, but the precise share Annius had in the imposture was a point long undetermined. The contending writers on the subject may be divided into four classes. The one of opinion that Annius really got | pospossession of certain fragments of the ancient authors, but that he added to these a number of fables and tra-litions. Another class think that the whole collection is a forgery, but that Annius was himself deceived, and published what he really thought to be genuine. A third class are believers in the authenticity of the whole, and some of these were themselves men of credit and reputation, as Bernardino Baldi, William Postel, Albert Krantz, Sigonius, Leancler Alberti, (see vol. I. p. 320), and some others. Alberti is said to have discovered his error, and to have deeply regretted that he admitted into his description of Italy, the tables which he found in Annius. A fourth class of critics on this work attribute the whole to the imagination of the editor; and among these we find the names of Anthony Agostini, or Augustine, Isaac Casaubon, Mariana, in his Spanish history, Ferrari, Martin Hanckius, Fabricius, Fontanini, &c. The learned Italians, also, who were contemporaries with Annius, were the first to detect the fraud; as Marcus Antonius Sabellicus, Peter Crinitus, Volterre, &c.; and Pignoria and MafTei were of the same opinion. In the sixteenth century, Mazza, a dominican, revived the dispute, by publishing at Verona, in 1623, fol. a work entitled “Apologia pro fratre Giovanni Annio Viterbese.” His chief design is to prove, that if there be any fraud, Annius must not be charged with it. But he goes farther, and asserts, that these works are genuine, and endeavours to answer all the objections urged against them. This apology having been censured, father Macedo rose against the censurer, not indeed with a design to assert that the Berosus, &c. published by Annius was the genuine Berosus, but to shew that Annius did not forge those manuscripts, A more modern apologist pretends both. He calls himself Didimus Rapaligerus Livianus. He published at Verona in the year 1678, a work in folio, entitled “I Gothi illustrati, overo Istoria de i Gothi antichi,” in which he brings together all the arguments he can think of, to shew that the writings published by Annius are genuine; and that this dominican did not forge them. The question is now universally given against Annius, while we are left to wonder at the perseverance which conducted him through a fraud of such magnitude. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Ginguene Hist. Litteraire d’Italie, vol. III. p. 405. Biog. Universelle. —Saxii Onomasticon.