VALERIUS MAXIMUS, Latin writer, flourished in the reign of Tiberius. His family was poor, and he owed everything to Sextus Pompeius (consul A.D. proconsul of Asia and a kind of minor Maecenas, whom he accompanied to the East in 27. He intimates that his work is intended as a commonplace book of historical anecdotes for use in the schools of rhetoric. The stories are loosely and irregularly arranged, and are from Roman history, but each section includes extracts from the annals of other peo ples, principally the Greeks. The work reproduces the general feeling of the empire, that the Romans of the day are degenerate compared with their ancestors, but still vastly superior to the rest of the world.
The author's chief sources are Cicero, Livy, Sallust and Pona peius Trogus. In spite of his confusions, contradictions and anachronisms, the excerpts are apt illustrations. Valerius often used
sources now lost, and affords us some glimpses of the much debated and very imperfectly recorded reign of Tiberius. Mod ern criticism will hardly regard as flattery his description of Tiberius, once so misunderstood, as salutaris princeps. He reveals the transition from classical to silver Latin. It is an instructive lesson to compare minutely a passage of Valerius with its counter part in Cicero or Livy. The tenth book of the ms., the Liber de Praenominibus, is much later. The collection was used as a schoolbook, and was very popular in the middle ages.
One complete epitome, probably of the 4th or 5th century, bearing the name of Julius Paris, has come down to us; also a portion of another by Januarius Nepotianus. Editions by C. Halm (1865) and C. Kempf (i888), contain the epitomes of Paris and Nepotianus.