Emilius, Paulus

, or Emili, a famous historian, was a native of Verona, and acquired so much reputation in Italy, that Stephen Poncher, bishop of Paris, advised king Lewis XII. to engage him to write in Latin a history of the kings of France. He was accordingly invited to Paris, and a canonry in the cathedral church was given him. He retired to the college of Navarre, to compose this work; yet after about thirty years of application to this his only employment, it was not completed at his death. The tenth book, which contained the beginning of the reign of Charles VIII. was left unfinished. But the history was continued by Arnoldus Feronius, who added nine books, which include the supplement to the former reign, and end at the death of Francis I. This continuation was published at Paris in 1650; but the best edition of the whole is that entitled “Emilii Pauli,‘de Gestis Francorum, libri decem, cum Arnoldi Feroni libris novem.Paris, 2 vols. fol.

He is said to have been very nice and scrupulous in regard to his works, having always some correction to make; hence Erasmus imputes the same fault to him that was objected to the painter Protogenes, who thought he had never finished his pieces; “That very learned man Paulus Emilius (says he) gave pretty much into this fault he was never satisfied with himself but, as often as he revised his own performances, he made such alterations, that one would not take them for the same pieces corrected, but for quite different ones; and this was his usual custom. This made him so slow, that elephants could bring forth sooner than he could produce a work; for he took above thirty years*


Mr. —Bayle thinks it was an error in Erasmus to assert that Emilius was thirty years about his history. "There is (says he) in the king of France’s library, an edition containing the first four books of Paulus Emilius, printed at Paris, without a date; but it must have been before 1520, and in the beginning of the reign of Francis I. this copy having been presented to him before he wore the close crown. Emilius was invited into France, in order to compose this work, by Lewis XII. Now the reign of this prince began but


in 1498 and had he sent for this author immediately after his accession to the crown, Emilius could not have em­ ployed above eighteen years at most in writing the history of France."

in writing his history.” Lipsius was much pleased | with this performance: “Paulus Emilius (says that author) is almost the only modern who has discovered the true and ancient way of writing history, and followed it very closely. His manner of writing is learned, nervous, and concise, inclining to points and conceits, and leaving a strong impression on the mind of a serious reader. He often intermixes maxims and sentiments not inferior to those of the ancients. A careful examiner, and impartial judge of facts; nor have J met with an author in our time, who has less prejudice or partiality. It is a disgrace to our age that so few are pleased with him; and that there are but few capable of relishing his beauties. Among so many perfections there are, however, a few blemishes, for his style is somewhat unconnected, and his periods too short. This is not suitable to serious subjects, especially annals, the style of which, according to Tacitus, should be grave and unaffected. He is also unequal, being sometimes too studied and correct, and thereby obscure; at other times (this however but seldom) he is loose and negligent. He affects also too much of the air of antiquity in the names of men and places, which he changes, and would reduce to the ancient form, often learnedly, sometimes vainly, and in my opinion always unbecomingly.” Emilius’s history is divided into ten books, and extends from Pharamond to the fifth year of Charles VIII. in 1438. The tenth book was found among his papers in a confused condition, so that the editor, Daniel Xavarisio, a native of Verona, and relation of Emilius, was obliged to collate a great number of papers full of rasures, before it could be published. He has been censured by several of the French writers, particularly by M. Sorel: “It does not avail (says this author) that his oratorical pieces are imitations of those of the Greeks, and Romans: all are not in their proper places; for he often makes barbarians to speak in a learned and eloquent manner. To give one remarkable circumstance: though our most authentic historians declare, that Hauler, or Hanier, the counsellor, who spoke an invective, in presence of king Lewis Hautin, against Enguerrand de Mar rigny, came off poorly, and said many silly things; yet Paulus Emilius, who changes even his name, calling him Annalis, makes him speak with an affected eloquence. He | also makes this Enguerrand pronounce a defence, though it is said he was not allowed to speak; so that what the historian wrote on this occasion was only to exercise his pen.” He has been also animadverted upon for not taking notice of the holy vial at Ilheims. “I shall not (says Claude de Verdier) pass over Paulus Emilius of Verona’s malicious silence, who omitted mentioning many things relating to the glory of the French nation. Nor can it be said he was ignorant of those things, upon which none were silent before himself; such as that oil which was sent from heaven for anointing our monarchs; and also the lilies. And even though he had not credited them himself, he ought to have declared the opinion of mankind.” Vossius, however, commends his silence in regard to these idle tales. Julius Scaliger mentions a book containing the history of the family of the Scaligers, as translated into elegant Latin by Paulus Emilius; and in his letter about the antiquity and splendour of the family, he has the following passage: “By the injury of time, the malice of enemies, and the ignorance of writers, a great number of memoirs relating to our family were lost; so that the name of Scaliger would have been altogether buried in obscurity, had it not been for Paulus Emilius of Verona, that most eloquent writer and preserver of ancient pedigrees; who having found in Bavaria very ancient annals of our family, written, as himself tells us, in a coarse style, polished and translated them into Latin. From this book my father extracted such particulars as seemed to reflect the” greatest honour on our family." Scaliger speaks also of it in the first edition of his Commentary on Catullus, in 1586, and in the second, in 1600, but in such a manner as differs somewhat from the passage above cited. Scioppius has severely attacked Scaliger on account of these variations: he observes, that no mention being made of the place where this manuscript was pretended to be found, nor the person who possessed it, and such authors as had searched the Bavarian libraries with the utmost care, having met with no such annals; he therefore asserts, that whatever the Scaligers advanced concerning this work, was all im posture. Emilius, as to his private life, was a man of exemplary conduct and untainted reputation. He died in 1529, and was buried in the cathedral at Paris. 1

Moreri.—Niceron, vol. XL,—Tiraboschi.—Gen. Dict.