Firmicus Maternus, Junius

, was an ancient Christian writer, and author of a piece entitled “De Er-> | rore Profanarum Religionum;” which he addressed to the emperors Constantius and Constans, the sons of Constantine. It is supposed to have been written after the death of Constantine, the eldest son of Constantine the Great, which happened in the year 340, and before that of Constans, who was slain by Magnentius in the year 350: being addressed to Constantius and Constans, there is reason to believe that Constantine their eldest brother was dead, and it is evident that Constans was then alive. It is remarkable, that no ancient writers have made any mention of Firmicus; so that we do not know what he was, of what country, or of what profession. Some moderns conjecture that he was by birth a Sicilian, and in the former part of his life an heathen. His treatise “Of the Errors of the Prophane Religions,” discovers great parts, great learning, and great zeal for Christianity, and has been often printed, sometimes separately, sometimes with other fathers. Among the separate editions are one printed at Strasbourg, in 1562, another at Heidelberg, 1599, and a third at Paris, 1610, all in 8vo; afterwards it was joined with Minucius Felix, and printed at Amsterdam, 1645, at Leyden, 1652, and again at Ley den, at the end of the same father, by James Gronovius, in 1709, 8vo. It is likewise to be found in the “Bibliotheca Patrum;” and at the end of Cyprian, printed at Paris in 1666.

There are “Eight Books of Astronomy, or Mathematics,” which bear the name of this author, and which have been several times printed, first at Venice in 1497, fol. and afterwards at Basil in 1551, at the end of the astronomical pieces of Ptolemy and some Arabians; but there is nothing in this work that relates to the real science of astronomy, the author amusing himself altogether with astrological calculations, after the manner of the Babylonians and Egyptians; on which account Baronius was of opinion, that it could not be written by so pious a man and so good a Christian as this Firmicus, who no doubt would have thought it very sinful to have dealt in such profane and impious speculations. Cave, however, supposed that he might have written these books in his unconverted state; for, though Baronius will have them to be written about the year 355, yet Labbaeus, as he tells us, affirms them to be between 334 and 337. There is not evidence enough, however, to determine the question. 1


Dupin.Cave,Moreri. Fabric, Bibl. Lat. and Bibl. Lat. Med. —Saxii Onomast.