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Onofrio Panvinio, O.S.A.

One of the earliest scholars of the Roman Republic and Empire was Onofrio Panvinio.

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Two of his most important works have been digitized and are available in the Contributions from Augustinian Theologians and Scholars Collection: his work on the Roman triumph and the magistrates of the republic and empire, the Fasti et triumphi Rom. a Romulo rege usque ad Carolum V. Caes. Aug. and his work on the Roman games, De ludis circensibus.

Along with being a historian and compiler of data from the ruins of the Roman secular world, Panvinio also compiled one of the first histories of the Augustinian Order as well as other related chronicles of the church and the early papacy. Indeed his explorations to forage for inscriptions, illustrations, and documents were authorized by Pope Pius IV.

Many of his works have never been published as books and remain only available as manuscripts, so much work still remains to bring greater attention to these important materials. Living only to the age of 38, dying in Palermo in 1568 A.D., Panvinio’s contributions to later ecclesiastical and classical historians show that great scholarly effort can come from even a short life. Father Gersbach notes: “his descriptions of Roman churches remain valuable for art historians. His indefatigable labors in unearthing and organizing vast amounts of historical material have merited the admiration of later scholars.”

Indeed, the eminent historian Mary Beard in her 2007 work, The Roman Triumph, said:”so efficient and accurate were they that Onofrio Panvinio’s study of the triumph in his Fastorum Libri V first published in the 1550s – an analytical list of Roman office holders from Romulus to Charles V in the sixteenth century – remains even today one of the most comprehensive collections of evidence for the ceremony.”

Several images from his now digitized Roman histories follow including: an image of the Emperor Claudius, the procession of the Roman Triumph, the ceremonies preparatory to a Roman game, and lists of consuls and magistrates.

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Mary Beard. The Roman Triumph. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007, pp. 54-54.

K.A. Gersbach. “Panvinio, Onofrio”. New Catholic Encyclopedia. pp. 828-829.

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Last Modified: April 3, 2009