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Annius of Viterbo

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(Giovanni Nanni).

Archeologist and historian, born at Viterbo about 1432; died 13 November, 1502. He entered the Dominican Order early in life and won fame as a preacher and writer. He was highly esteemed by Sixtus IV and Alexander VI ; the latter made him Master of the Sacred Palace. He was skilled in the Oriental languages, and was so devoted a student of classical antiquity thathe changed his name to one that reminded him of Rome's Golden Age. Among his numerous writings may be mentioned: (1) "De futuris Christianorum triumphis in Turcos et Saracenosö; a commentary on the Apocalypse, dedicated to Sixtus IV, to Christian kings, princes, and governments (Genoa, 1480); "Tractatus de imperio Turcorumö (Genoa, 1480). He is best known, however, by his "Antiquitatum Variarumö, 17 vols. (Venice, 1499, et sæp ). In this work he published alleged writings and fragments of several pre-Christian Greek and Latin profane authors, destined to throw an entirely new light on ancient history. He claimed to have discovered them at Mantua. This work met at once both with believers in the genuineness of his sources, and with severe critics who accused him of willfulinterpolation, or even fabrication. The spurious character of these "historiansö of Annius, which he published both with and without commentaries, has long been admitted. It would appear that he was too credulous, and really believed the texts to be authentic. It may be recalled thatColbert left to the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris a manuscript of the thirteenth century, supposed to contain fragments of the writings of two of these writers, i.e. Berosus and Megasthenes. The more important of his unpublished works are: "Volumen libris septuaginta distinctum de antiquitatibus et gestis Etruscorumö; "De correctione typographica chronicorumö; "De dignitate officii Magistri Sacri Palatiiö, and lastly, his "Chronologia Novaö, wherein he undertakes to correct the anachronisms in the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea.

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