The Latin Anthology is a collection of Latin verse, from the age of Ennius to about 1000, formed by Pieter Burmann the Younger. Nothing corresponding to the Greek Anthology is known to have existed among the Romans, though professional epigrammatists like Martial published their volumes on their own account, and detached sayings were excerpted from authors like Ennius and Publius Syrus, while the Priapeïa were probably but one among many collections on special subjects.
The first general collection of scattered pieces made by a modern scholar was Scaliger's Catalecta veterum Poetarum (1573), succeeded by the more ample one of Pithoeus, Epigrammata et Poemata e Codicibus et Lapidibus collecta (1590). Numerous additions, principally from inscriptions, continued to be made, and in 1759-1773 Burmann digested the whole into his Anthologia veterum Latinorum Epigrammatum et Poematum. This, occasionally reprinted, was the standard edition until 1869, when Alexander Riese commenced a new and more critical recension, from which many pieces improperly inserted by Burmann are rejected, and his classified arrangement is discarded for one according to the sources whence the poems have been derived. The first volume contains those found in MSS., in the order of the importance of these documents; those furnished by inscriptions following. The first volume (in two parts) appeared in 1869-1870, a second edition of the first part in 1894, and the second volume, Carmina Epigraphica (in two parts), in 1895-1897, edited by F. Bücheler. An Anthologiae Latinae Supplementa, in the same series, followed. Having been formed by scholars actuated by no aesthetic principles of selection, but solely intent on preserving everything they could find, the Latin anthology is much more heterogeneous than the Greek, and unspeakably inferior. The really beautiful poems of Petronius and Apuleius are more properly inserted in the collected editions of their writings, and more than half the remainder consists of the frigid conceits of pedantic professional exercises of grammarians of a very late period of the empire, relieved by an occasional gem, such as the apostrophe of the dying Hadrian to his spirit, or the epithalamium of Gallienus. The collection is also, for the most part, too recent in date, and too exclusively literary in character, to add much to our knowledge of classical antiquity. The epitaphs are interesting, but the genuineness of many of them is very questionable.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.