Talk:Avitus

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Untitled[edit]

From the article:

His grandson was the poet Avitus of Vienne.

I received Tuesday from Amazon the Schanzer & Wood translation, Avitus of Vienne: Letters and Selected Prose, & there is no mention of any such claim. The two scholars do provide proof that Avitus was related somehow to the Emperor Avitus' son-in-law, the aristocrat & poet Sidonius Apollinaris, & also mention published speculation that the younger Avitus' mother may have been Sidonius' sister.

In short, is there a source for this assertion? I'll be happy to tag it if no one has a source at hand & wait for an answer. -- llywrch 20:07, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Name of Avitus[edit]

A website is not a source. The names M. Maecilius and Flavius are not attested. See Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire and Consuls of the later Roman Empire. --Μίκυθος (talk) 07:18, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

Seven websites - and more, if you want -, specially numismatic and fundamented ones, ARE a source, ARE seven or more sources!... G.-M. Cupertino (talk) 15:03, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Reading books, no websites. Read Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire and Consuls of the later Roman Empire. Give me a historical source for the names M. Maecilius and Flavius. You will not find --Μίκυθος (talk) 06:22, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry for the error. Sadly the PLRE is no good as a resource here, giving only a referral to Rossi, I.795 (which I've no current access to). Mikythos, could you amend the footnote as well as just reverting my edit? At present, it gives that "M. Maecilius Flavius" is attested in literature. Note also that the error carries through even academia, viz: Brehier, L. (1930) Un empereur romain à Brioude, Flavius Eparchius Avitus. Almanach de Brioude pp.39-55.
Also, as I've lately been on a drive to standardise emperors' nomenclature. In doing this, I've listed only proper names (as well as Caesar and Augustus), without titles and honorific and victory cognomina ("imperator", "pius", felix", "invictus", "dominus noster", etc). This includes their pre-accession nomenclature as well as their ruling names. See Commodus for the best example. Hence can we lose the "Dominus Noster" from Avitus as well, to make it more in line with the other emperors? Many thanks.Catiline63 (talk) 18:11, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Dates around fall of Rome[edit]

This article gives the death of Petronius Maximus as 22 May. The article on Petronius Maximus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petronius_Maximus says 31 May. Neither article explains what source provides such specific dating evidence, so I have not ventured to correct them, but they can't both be right. Would be great if someone who does have this information could correct the entry that is wrong and cite the source. 82.71.104.222 (talk) 13:31, 4 January 2013 (UTC) Victoria

I've turned up references to a few dates online, but the cites to 31 May are more authoritative. I've seen a few references to Petronius ruling for 77 days (beginning March 17), which would be consistent with the 31st. The entry from the video series on the emperors produced by historian Adrian Murdoch points to the 31st: http://adrianmurdoch.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/04/63-petronius-maximus-emperors-of-rome.html ; and Encyclopedia Brittanica Online also cites the 31st: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/370593/Petronius-Maximus . Perhaps not definitive sources, but would seem to put the onus on whoever claims it was the 22nd. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 02:58, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Name revisited[edit]

Summary of actions taken so far
Reviewing the claim that "In older literature the names Marcus Maecilius Avitus and Flavius Eparchius Avitus were reported, but now only Eparchius Avitus is accepted", I find that there is no source cited, nor has there ever been since this change was made. I Googled for any matching statement in available literature, and failed to find anything along these lines. I therefore removed what appeared to be an unsourced statement in conflict with much existing literature back in July. Μίκυθος, who apparently initiated this change back in 2008, reverted this change yesterday, giving as his explanation, "what shoud that ! see notes". Unable to make head or tails of this, I undid the reversion, restating the original reason.

Shortly thereafter, Μίκυθος reverted it again, stating: "look in the Secondary sources. PLRE; how stupid". This was the first indication of any kind of source, although without proper citation it would have been impossible to know that this was the basis for Μίκυθος' assertion (minus the "stupid"). PLRE volume II isn't widely available on-line, but I was able to find the pages cited through a Google preview. Although the names "Marcus Maecilius" and "Flavius" do not appear in this reference, neither does it state, as it should, that they are incorrect or "no longer accepted". PLRE does give a citation to Rossi for the name, but I have not yet identified or located a copy of this source to see what it has to say on the subject. Since PLRE doesn't state what Μίκυθος cited it for, I undid his reversion again, giving the lack of a corroborating statement in the source named as a reason. Subsequently, Μίκυθος reverted the change for the third time, giving as his reason, "nonsens", which to his credit is better than "how stupid".

Now Haploidavey has stepped in, undoing the reversion and calling upon Μίκυθος to provide something more concrete, but Μίκυθος continues to revert the change. I decided to bring this to the talk page so that the issue could be threshed out properly, instead of continuing in the form of an edit war with explanations required to fall within the Twitter character limit . . . I'm aware that Μίκυθος is a long-time contributor to classical articles and don't want to resort to calling for administrative action if this debate could be resolved peaceably.

Discussion of the underlying issue
So, what are we to make of the claim that "Marcus Maecilius Flavius Eparchius Avitus", as found in much literature, is "no longer accepted"? PLRE is a valuable and important source; there's no denying that. But should the use of a shorter or partial name by PLRE be interpreted as an explicit rejection of the longer one? Given that its subject is prosopography, that interpretation is possible, but I'm not sure that it can be considered definitively so.

A question of the full name of a late Roman figure is always uncertain, since there is abundant reason to believe that for most of Imperial history many Romans had much longer and more complex names than they used on a daily basis. More than three hundred years earlier it was common for Roman politicians to have names stringing together the various names of both paternal and maternal ancestors, often in non-traditional and counter-intuitive ways. By the time of Avitus, praenomina were frequently omitted or dropped, and it is difficult if not impossible in many cases to tell whether a particular name is a nomen gentilicium or some other name falling into the catch-all category of late Roman cognomina. Flavius was so widely used (due in part to the vast numbers of freedmen under the Flavian emperors) that it was treated a bit as an honorific that could be included or omitted at will.

At the heart of Μίκυθος' argument seems to be the assertion that the names "Marcus Maecilius" and "Flavius" are "no longer accepted" because PLRE does not contain them, and that they must therefore be proved by positive evidence of their use in ancient sources. This seems to invert the normal rule, which is that information found in reliable secondary sources (i.e. encyclopedias, modern historians) should not be rejected (even by footnoting) unless a reliable source demonstrates that it is in some form inaccurate. And we don't have that.

I see some German sources stating "Marcus Maecilius" and "Flavius Maecilius" are found on Avitus' coins, while "Flavius Eparchius" is attested from inscriptions. For instance, Ersch & Gruber, Allgemeine Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste, vol. Appellation – Arzilla, pp. 505–508 (Winterhalder). Absent a clear explanation for why these names should be rejected, their mere non-appearance in PLRE does not seem very persuasive.

A number of reliable secondary sources and recent publications continue to give "Marcus Maecilius Flavius Eparchius Avitus". His name appears in this form in J. B. Bury's History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I. to the Death of Justinian (1923), Michael Grant's The Roman Emperors (1985), Bunson's Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire (2002), Luttwak's The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire and Kiminas' The Ecumenical Patriarchate (2009), Sellars' The Monetary System of the Romans (2013), and Adkins' Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome (2014).

I realize that not all of these are of equal authority or value to this debate, but they do demonstrate an important point: namely, that "Marcus Maecilius Flavius Eparchius Avtius" continues in widespread use, at least insofar as sources attempting to give Avitus' full nomenclature are concerned. Given his limited importance in history, it's understandable that this is a relatively small number. For instance, the "Chronicle of the Roman Emperors" refers to him only as "Avitus", disposing of the successors of Valentinian III in two rather densely-packed pages. So the fact that the disputed names are still widely used in published sources seems to give the lie to the assertion that they're no longer accepted. Can anyone point to a scholarly source that actually says that these are wrongly attributed, and can explain why they should be rejected notwithstanding their appearance on coins and in inscriptions? P Aculeius (talk) 14:14, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

Hallo Acueius, what coins are you talking about? From the fake coins as a drawing in the Allgemeine Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste? oh no. I just say: I want to be a proof of the name. As source, inscription or papyrus. Not from old books. If the names were real, he would have been in the PLRE. --Μίκυθος (talk) 14:44, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
I didn't mention any drawings, nor were any shown in the article. Did you look at it? It's easily available through Google Books. Do you have any basis for asserting that coins mentioned in this source are "fake"? The article and work in which it appears seem to be appropriate scholarly material. Is there any reason to doubt its accuracy other than that it is an "old book"? You appear to be repeating the assertion that if a name doesn't appear in PLRE, then it must be unattested/erroneous. What is the basis for this assertion? Can you point to some scholarly source that says, "any name not appearing in PLRE is rejected by modern classical scholarship"? P Aculeius (talk) 14:56, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Roman Imperial Coinage volume 10. not Maecilius, nor Flavius. Where should I take the sources when there are no sources? Only Eparchius is attested. How often? --Μίκυθος (talk) 15:26, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Are you saying that volume 10 of RIC includes all known inscriptions, and that therefore anything not appearing in it is wrong? That doesn't seem like a reasonable interpretation. Do you have any reliable scholarly sources that make such an assertion? P Aculeius (talk) 20:01, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Ric is the standard work of Roman coins. If there were coins with "Maecilius", they would stand there. If what is this? Are you kidding me? --Μίκυθος (talk) 05:44, 24 October 2016 (UTC)
The article you linked about RIC says that it's a British catalogue. While it claims (without citation) that it's "the standard work", it nowhere claims to be thoroughly exhaustive, nor have you said that it makes an assertion about Avitus' nomenclature, beyond stating what appears on coins included in that catalogue. There have been quite a lot of works written on Roman coinage over the last five centuries, most of which weren't in English. Are all of them completely incorporated in RIC, except to the extent that mistakes have been corrected? There's no way to judge from the article. Being a "standard" work doesn't necessarily mean that it includes all known coins of whatever type from all published collections.
We have a scholarly source stating that the disputed names are found on coins and in inscriptions. These names are still included in modern scholarly works and common reference sources. There are no scholarly sources that state that such coins or inscriptions do not exist, or that the names are not found in any source and therefore must be rejected. The fact that some sources do not include all parts of a disputed nomenclature, without any explanation or discussion of that nomenclature, is insufficient to give rise to the inference that the names in question are unsupported by any evidence or that they are rejected by modern scholarship. Your claim is that they are no longer accepted, but their continued use shows that they are. In order to justify removing them from the lead and making any statement to the effect that they are not accepted, you need a positive assertion in some published scholarly work that these names are wrong, imaginary, unsubstantiated, or otherwise unreliable. The mere absence of the names in some sources, without any clear and precise explanation, fails to meet that burden. P Aculeius (talk) 13:08, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

Sigh. To begin with, this particular edit has been made & reverted FOUR times in 24 hours. Mikythos, you are now formally warned: revert this edit one more time & you will be blocked from editing the English Wikipedia.

Okay, I took a look at a couple of authoritative sources online. First, Martin Heinzelmann, "Gallische Prosopographie (260–527)", Francia, 10(1982), which is a more up to date prosopography of Late Roman Gaul than the PLRE. Its article on the Emperor provides the name "Eparchius Avitus" with no note of alternative versions, nor any discussion of the name. Second, Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, another authoritative source, is available on de.wikisource, & its article on Avitus also calls him "Eparchius Avitus", but with a note that "die Münze, welche ihn M. Maecilius Avithus nennt, ist nur durch Banduri beglaubigt und vielleicht nicht echt, Eckhel VIII 193. Cohen VIII² 222" (auf Englisch, "the coin which calls him M. Maecilius Avithus was authenticated only by Banduri, and perhaps not genuine, Eckhel VIII 193. Cohen VIII² 222"). So it appears that at the time the article was written (1896), one primary source for the name M. Maecilius Eparchius Avitus was considered suspicious.

As for the name element "Flavius", I'm skeptical that Avitus adopted it: by the mid-5th century, except for the few people who claimed ancestry from the gens Flavia it had become a title indicating its bearer was previously a general or officeholder in the Imperial bureaucracy. I can't imagine an Emperor incorporating it into his style any better than an English noble being known as "Mr. the Earl Nigel Smith." But if it was in the original draft of this article, it should not be removed without some kind of investigation that it was never used; burden of proof for changes like that fall on the editor. And besides, we are not under a deadline to finish articles.

However, P Aculeius has found several secondary sources that use the "M. Maecilius" form, so it is still accepted by some authorities, likely for other reasons than a problematic coin. (If J.B. Bury accepted it, his authority is sufficient to entertain suspicion there might be other evidence out there; the others he mentions are not experts in that period.) Thus we have an instance where there is more than one opinion, & our duty as Wikipedians is to report all reasonable opinions in those cases. Stating that only one is right, then expecting other editors to do your research that confirms your edit is not how Wikipedia works. Further, my own experience has shown that identifying & obtaining either secondary & primary sources for 5th C Roman history is a challenge, so it's a disservice to ones fellow Wikipedians to make changes without providing proper citations.

I've mentioned this problem to you, Mikythos, before: You are obviously knowledgeable about this period, but you need to provide proper citations for your changes. Once upon a time, one could make changes to articles as you have without too much worry about citations, but that time has long passed. Unless you learn to provide a source for your facts, you will find contributing to Wikipedia an unrewarding hobby. -- llywrch (talk) 22:29, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

Based on the above discussion and sources, I've attempted to implement a compromise, returning to the former full nomenclature, but with an extensive note discussing the various names, attributions, doubts, etc. with sources and both internal and external links, so that anyone wanting to research the name can go to those sources and make up their own minds. Won't you take a look at it, and tell me what you think? P Aculeius (talk) 14:50, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
That's more like it. Though I've nothing at all to contribute on prosopographical issues here or elsewhere, your note (or is it a booklet?) is much appreciated. It seems clear, accurate, unobtrusive and a reasonable compromise. Haploidavey (talk) 15:25, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
I made a few tweaks to your note, P Aculeius, most notably removing the quotation of an inscription because its relevance was not explained, & superfluous to your note. The other changes was to improve the citation of Pauly-Wissowa's Real Encyclopädie. FWIW, there is a second reference to the "M. Maecilius Flavius" version to his name being used in the scholarly literature on the talk page above which someone might want to add, but your edit stands either way. On that far-off day, when I have both time & access to the proper references I may re-write that note into a proper discussion of his name & place it in the article, but until then this should do. -- llywrch (talk) 19:56, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
The inscription you mentioned wasn't part of the note, it was a reference for the name, although it probably is superfluous. It was there when I started, and I didn't see any benefit to removing it without a clearer idea of its relevance, so I left it in case another editor wanted to keep it there or use it someplace else. I didn't link PLRE since it's linked elsewhere in the article, and wasn't sure which version of Pauly to cite to, so thanks for adding that. No complaints on my part. P Aculeius (talk) 22:17, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
The fictional names "M. Maecilius Flavius" should not be written in fat. Some people do not read footnotes. Keep the name for true. I would write fictitious names in the footnotes. --Μίκυθος (talk) 05:12, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Mikythos, those name elements are not fictional; it is some expert's opinion that they are part of his name. As mentioned above, J.B Bury & L. Brehier believed it so. Unless you are willing to take the time to carefully research this issue and provide your findings with sources, I suggest you let this issue go. There are over five million articles on the English Wikipedia, & at least 16 thousand of which related to Classical studies: there are far more important things needing done than arguing over this. -- llywrch (talk) 05:49, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Back to the 19th century. I'm done here. In the English Wikipedia is running something wrong. --Μίκυθος (talk) 08:05, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Requiring adequate citations is wrong? -- llywrch (talk) 16:20, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm done here. If you are more familiar with books from the 19th century than books from the 20th century, I am wrong here --Μίκυθος (talk) 16:32, 26 October 2016 (UTC)