(fl. Rome[?] first half of the third century a.d.),
grammar, collection of knowledge.
Censorinus wrote two works. The one entitled De accentibus, which dealt with grammatical questions and was praised by Flavius Magnus Cassiodorus Senator and Priscian, has been lost. The second, De die natali, which is extant, is dedicated as a birthday present to a little-known patron, Quintus Caerellius; according to Censorinus’s own statements (ch. 18, sec. 12; ch. 21, sec. 6), it was written in 238. The content of this comprehensive work can be divided into three parts: a general introduction (chs. 1–3), one part on the life of man (chs, 4–15), and one on time and its divisions (chs. 16–24). The first part, which is based on the Roman savant Varro, deals chiefly with human procreation and pregnancy, with excursuses on the influence of the stars and on music. In the second part, which is based on a lost work by Varro, Censorinus treats the different divisions of time (age, year, month, day, etc.). As in the first part, he mentions the doctrines of Greek philosophers.
Not all of De die natali has survived; the manuscript of the conclusion has been lost, and thus the beginning of the next treatise is unknown, as are its author and title. This work, now entitled Fragmentum Censorini, is more important for the history of science than is De die natali. It contains a series of short tractates from an encyclopedic work on astronomy, geometry, music, and metrics. The chapter on geometry, which deals with the definitions, postulates, and axioms of book I of Euclid’s Elements, differs greatly from the other known translations of Euclid. The chapters on metrics are very detailed. This part contains the oldest known information on Roman metrics and may be based on a work by Varro. Thus De die natali and Fragmentum Censorini enrich our view of Greek and Roman science in some respects and increase our knowledge of treatises by Varro.
I. Original Works. The source of the various editions of De die natali and Fragmentum Censorini is a Cologne MS of the seventh century now in Cologne’s Dombibliothek, MS 166. All other codices and MS Vatican us 4929, which was treated by Hultsch as an independent source, are based on it. L. Carrion was the first to use it (Parts, 1583). A much more complete edition is that of O, Jahn (Berlin, 1845). Some details were corrected and supplemented in the edition by F. Hultsch (Leipzig, 1867).
II. Secondary Literature. Censorinus or his work is discussed by M, Schanz and C. Hosius, in Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 3rd ed.. III (Munich, 1922), 219–222: W. Teuffel, in Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 6th ed., III (Leipzig, 1913), 150–152; L. Urlichs, “Zur Krilik des Censorinus,” in Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, 22 (1867), 465–476; and G. Wissowa, in Pauly-Wissowa, III (1899), cols. 1908– 1910.