Classics Appendix Vergiliana
Dorothee Gall
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 March 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0271


The so-called Appendix Vergiliana (the name goes back to Joseph Scaliger’s first edition from 1573) comprises poems of different genres, form, and theme. There is no reliable knowledge about their authors. Until the Neronian period, they seem to have been unknown. From then onward, there are rare references in Roman literature to some of the texts. Most of them are mentioned in a list of Vergil’s early poems in Donatus’s Vita Vergiliana (4th century CE), which is probably based on Sueton’s De poetis (early 2th century CE). In the 9th century CE, these poems and some others were considered as genuine poems of Vergil, as we learn from a fragment of a manuscript (Graz fragment) and a catalogue of the library of Murbach. The Appendix consists of the epyllia Ciris and Culex, the didactic poem Aetna, the Dirae/Lydia (curses being followed by a love elegy), the Maecenas (two elegies), the so-called Catalepton with three carmina Priapea and fifteen or sixteen epigrams, the Priapeum Quid hoc novi est, the Moretum, and the Copa. Included in some manuscripts and the modern editions (but not in Scaliger’s) are the carmina De institutione viri boni and De est et non, which belong to Ausonius (4th century CE), and De rosis nascentibus, ascribed by some to Ausonius as well. Most of the poems are characterized by numerous textual references to Vergil and later poets. The direction of the citation has been interpreted controversially. Since the 19th century, scholarship has tended to intermingle the questions of authorship and literary appreciation: if the poems were accepted as Vergilian, their poetic qualities had to be defended. When considered as fakes or poems from other (or minor) poets, they were judged as inferior. Modern research is still struggling to address questions of origin and authorship. For some of the poems, an interpretation as fake or parody has prevailed. In the early 21st century, most of them are respected as literary works with their own quality and intention.

General Overviews

Precise information about the textual tradition is given in Reeve 1976. Zogg 2016 scrutinizes ancient testimonies, and Rand 1919 and Fairclough 1922 provide an overview of the poems of the Appendix and their literary quality. Salvatore 1994 and Holzberg 2005 unite important studies about all the individual texts, while Bickel 1950 gives a catalogue of criteria for the examination of authenticity. Peirano 2012 tries to establish the Roman fake as a distinct literary type, and Stachon 2014 looks for the motifs of writing a fake or parody.

  • Bickel, Ernst. 1950. Syllabus indiciorum quibus Pseudovergiliana et Pseudo-ovidiana carmina definiantur: Symbolae ad Cirin, Culicem, Aetnan. Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 93.4: 289–324.

    The criteria are important and undisputable.

  • Fairclough, H. Rushton. 1922. The poems of the Appendix Vergiliana. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 53:5–34.

    DOI: 10.2307/282854

    Fairclough discusses Edward Kennard Rand’s and other scholars’ theses about the origin, authorship, and quality of the Appendix.

  • Holzberg, Niklas, ed. 2005. Die Appendix Vergiliana: Pseudepigraphen im literarischen Kontext. Classica Monacensia 30. Tübingen, Germany: Günter Narr.

    Holzberg’s basic thesis, that the poets of the Appendix write as Vergilii impersonati, adopting the literary style of Vergil, is tested by his coauthors from different points of view (see Aetna, Catalepton, Ciris, Copa, Culex, Dirae/Lydia, Maecenas, Moretum, and Priapea).

  • Peirano, Irene. 2012. The rhetoric of the Roman fake: Latin pseudepigrapha in context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511732331

    Basic, though not indisputable, considerations on the nature of fakes, followed by a close reading of the Catalepton, Ciris, and Maecenas.

  • Rand, Edward Kennard. 1919. Young Virgil’s poetry. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 30:103–185.

    DOI: 10.2307/310615

    Although Rand’s thesis of the Vergilian authorship may be considered as obsolete, his essay gives valuable information and interpretations: a stimulating first access to the Appendix.

  • Reeve, Michael D. 1976. The textual tradition of the Appendix Vergiliana. Maia 28.3: 233–254.

    Informative discussion of the manuscripts.

  • Salvatore, Armando. 1994. Virgilio e Pseudovirgilio: Studi su l’Appendix. Naples, Italy: Loffredo.

    Studies on main literary features and textual difficulties of Appendix.

  • Stachon, Markus. 2014. Tractavi monumentum aere perennius: Untersuchungen zu vergilischen und ovidischen Pseudepigraphen. Bochumer Alterumswissenschaftliches Colloquium 97. Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.

    Well-balanced explanations and interpretations of the Culex, Catalepton, and Dirae and the motifs of pseudepigraphy.

  • Zogg, Fabian. 2016. Die Appendix Vergiliana avant la lettre: Martial, Donat, Servius und der Murbach-Katalog zu Vergils angeblichen Jugendwerken. Antike und Abendland 62:74–85.

    DOI: 10.1515/anab-2016-0107

    The most-important ancient testimonies regard juvenile poems ascribed to Vergil as a supplement to his major works.

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